Facebook’s Autoplay has led to a 60% jump in traffic on mobile networks

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Facebook’s Autoplay feature, which starts playing videos automatically in your feed, could jack up your wireless bill. Now data from web monitoring firm Sandvine offers an inkling of how much might be at stake — for your pocketbook and the ever-increasing traffic load on the web.

Sandvine has noticed that in the previous year, Facebook traffic increased by 60 percent on one mobile network, and by over 200 percent on one fixed wireline network, driven by people’s Facebook feeds’ video auto plays. Facebook started rolling out the feature last September. The problem with Autoplay has been noticed before, but the theory is that a glut of ice bucket challenge videos has led to a marked rise in video content that might be playing, and thus, a rise in data usage.

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But it isn’t just Facebook. When Instagram added video to its service in June 2013, Sandvine data showed a corresponding spike in global network usage as well. This makes complete sense given the amount of data in a video, as the Sandvine blog points out:

That may sound shocking, but if you think back to the time pre-autoplay, your Facebook page would have been mainly text and images. Add in video, which is essentially 24-30 photos being displayed in your feed each second, and you can see how the data quickly adds up.

So not only is your Facebook habit now sucking up more of your mobile (and wireline) bandwidth if you leave the feature on, the overall trend in social sites is about making sure you see these videos and they can engage you without you ever having to make the choice to click. That’s good for Facebook’s engagement, but not great for your data caps.

For those who are worried, check here to see how to turn Facebook’s Autoplay feature off.

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