You’re scrolling through your Facebook or Twitter feed, minding everyone else’s business, when suddenly a video starts playing on its own. Most of the time, these videos are distracting, or perhaps annoying, but as we’ve learned in recent events, they could show something gruesome, like a murder. To ensure that you have control over what you see, here’s how to disable those auto-playing videos on at least Facebook and Twitter.
Google+ doesn’t seem to have such a setting, but I didn’t see any videos that played automatically there either. If you’re an aficionado of Instagram or Vine, you’re more or less out of luck.
Facebook -- On the Facebook desktop Web site, click the arrow in the upper-right, and then click Settings in the menu that appears. On the Settings screen, select Videos in the left sidebar, and then set Auto-Play Videos to Off.
To play videos on the Facebook Web site in the future, you will need to click the play button in the center of the video.
However, the Facebook iOS app will continue to auto-play videos in your feed. To disable that, tap More in the lower right, scroll down, tap Settings, and then tap Account Settings. Tap Videos and Photos, tap Auto-Play, disable Smart Auto-Play, and then select Never Play Videos Automatically.
Twitter -- Thankfully, most Twitter clients don’t do auto-play videos. However, Twitter’s Web site and iOS app do. Here’s how to disable them on both.
On Twitter’s Web site, click your avatar in the top right and choose Settings. Under Account, uncheck Video Autoplay, and click Save Changes (you’ll likely have to enter your password to confirm). Again, to play videos in the future, you’ll have to click a play button manually.
As with Facebook, Twitter’s iOS app will continue to auto-play videos even if they’re disabled on the Twitter Web site. In the app, tap Me in the toolbar, tap the gear, and tap Settings. Tap Video Autoplay, and then tap Never Play Videos Automatically.
Instagram and Vine -- Unfortunately, Instagram removed the option to disable video auto-play in 2013. However, you can block users who post offensive videos. To do so, open a person’s profile, tap the
… button, and then tap Block User.
Likewise, Vine, which is based almost entirely on auto-play videos, doesn’t offer an option to disable them. If you don’t want to see auto-play videos on Vine, your best bet is to avoid the service altogether.
Thankfully, Web browser makers are starting to acknowledge the problem. The Google Chrome team is working on a feature that will prevent videos from playing unless they’re in the active tab. It’s a start, and a feature we look forward both to having and seeing mimicked in other Web browsers.