back to article Google Chrome calculates your autoplay settings so you don't have to - others disagree

Google's rules for when its Chrome browser allows and blocks the automatic playback of web audio and video have come under fire following a company developer's decision not to address objections to the removal of autoplay blocking controls from Chrome for Android. Earlier this year, a user of the mobile version of Chrome on …

  1. Chris Gray 1

    Not a chance

    Ok, that makes it not a chance that I will use Chrome anywhere - desktop or mobile. Especially mobile. The data limit on my mobile plan is very small (300 MB) - I don't want *any* video playing, ever, unless I'm on WiFi. And, I don't have WiFi on unless I'm safely at home and can connect to my home router.

    I make an exception for El Reg's blocky bouncing vulture - that's been cached for ages.

    1. Dinanziame Silver badge

      Re: Not a chance

      Well, as noted the article, this might well mean you'll end up downloading a 10 MB GIF animation every time — because some web sites are that shitty.

      That said, Google should implement a slider with five settings: autoplay everything; only autoplay muted; only autoplay muted on whitelisted sites; no video autoplay; no animation whatever gif included.

      1. ThatOne Silver badge

        Re: Not a chance

        > you'll end up downloading a 10 MB GIF animation

        Any website doing this to me won't do it twice.

        Why would I want to have any interaction with a site who's owners show that clearly they're unscrupulous greedy scum?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not a chance

        > Well, as noted the article, this might well mean you'll end up downloading a 10 MB GIF animation every time — because some web sites are that shitty.

        Chrome could refuse to auto-play those as well.

        1. rd232

          Re: Not a chance

          They'll need to get their top guns on the job to figure out how to ... er, identify massive files of certain filetypes that are normally small and give the user the option not to process these...

        2. ThatOne Silver badge

          Re: Not a chance

          > every time — because some web sites

          If some sites do it, I'll just have to avoid those. I'm pretty confident most sites won't jump through hoops to shove some video down peoples' throats. Why would (for instance) some honest online shop want to force-feed you a video? They're selling stuff, you're clearly there to buy stuff, so their best bet is to leave you do it.

          The only people likely to feel tempted to do so are marketing people, so blocking anything ad-related will IMHO take care of the problem.

    2. Dave K

      Re: Not a chance

      On my mobile and home PC, it's easy to avoid this stupid decision by Google by simply not using Chrome. On my work PC, I'm stuck with either ancient IE11, or Chrome. It's bloody annoying visiting a site only to have a stupid video burst into action without any warning. Sod both Google, and any web developers who insist on this annoying and idiotic practice.

  2. Ozzard
    Black Helicopters

    Repeat after me: Firefox, NoScript, a good ad blocker, Decentraleyes, Containerise, Facebook Container, HTTPS Everywhere, Privacy Badger.

    1. sqlrob

      Do all those work on mobile firefox?

      1. IGotOut Silver badge

        Nothing works in bloody Firefox now.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Big Brother

        It doesn't support containers (yet?) but the rest are currently available.

      3. big_D Silver badge

        NoScript still works - although after the last updated, Firefox changed its default to allow all. I turned it back to disallow all allow whitelist and it works properly, as far as I can see.

      4. MrRtd

        I use Firefox Beta on Android, and uBlock Origin works.

    2. Mike 137 Silver badge

      Repeat after me...

      and images disabled except for selected web sites (thanks to dumb web devs increasingly including full resolution 20MB images on pages, downsampled by the browser to 640x480 or even less). That also fixes the "GIF videos".

  3. Shadow Systems

    Google, you suck arse.

    As a totaly blind user of a screen reader, having ANYTHING auto play is an excellent way to make me want to smack you upside the head with a nail-festooned cricket bat.

    I can't pause the video because I can't hear my 'reader trying to read the page. I can't simply close the browser because Youtube seems to lock my system until the auto play is finished. And any ad that involves audio is an instant fail since I may not be able to figure out how to skip it due to those same 'reader limitations.

    You want to allow auto play crap, I want to actualy use my computer. You insist on allowing it, I'll stop visiting any/every site that involves it.

    1. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

      Re: Google, you suck arse.

      Doesn't that - in the UK - violate the Disability Discrimination Act? Perhaps your local Saul Goodman would care to act on your behalf in this matter...

      1. Shadow Systems

        Re: Google, you suck arse.

        Unfortunately I'm on the wrong side of ThePond. The "Good Ol' USA" is completely arse-backwards when it comes to protecting We The People from our undeserving Corporate Overloards.

        If I complain about $Site1, they invariably claim the content that was the culprit came from $Site2 & I should go hound them instead. $Site2 claims not to be the source & points to $Site3. Round & round & round, the monkey chases the weasel, the weasel thinks it's all in fun until the monkey resorts to an orbitally delivered TotalExtinctionEvent class meteore strike.


        Damn my fantasies...

  4. nxnwest

    You pay the postage

    "sometimes users want content to autoplay... " is actually a euphemism for "WE want to force advertisement filled content to autoplay"

    No one ever wants ads to autoplay. At least with junk-snail-mail, the advertiser has to bear the cost of delivery (postage). With autoplayed content, the user is forced to pay the delivery cost of the unwanted ads, especially on mobile. And that, dear audience, is why I do not support any broad band datacaps. At least there, cost does not factor in. Yet.

  5. Woodnag

    Actually, just need to prevent detection of autoplay disable

    If website can't detect autoplay disable, it can't do a workaround.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google is left with no choice here

    Ad business is no longer as profitable as before since advertisers' money is split among several "ecosystems" aka walled gardens. Since Google has to report significant growth every year in order to satisfy Wall Street, they're getting increasingly desperate. This is why we're now seeing 2 to 3 ads one after another during YouTube videos and (not so subtle) attempts to subvert the browser to remove any control a user might have and thoroughly hoover every bit of personal information. Especially browsing the Internet on an Android phone is a lost cause for user choice or privacy/

    I've seen the future and it doesn't look good.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Do not believe Google!

    There are much bigger reasons why Chrome on Android will not block autoplaying videos.....

    *Browser Fingeprinting for one

    A large and growing percentage of websites have started to use HTML5 to fingerprint user's devices, many for nefarious purposes

    like wateringhole attacks where a user's device is fingerprinted first to decide which browser is vulnerable to exploits.

    *Fullscreen interstitial Vast video ads that vibrate the phone and scare novice Android users into installing bogus "cleaner" apps with fake virus pop-ups.

    I know one app developer in particular who's entire advertising campaign depends on this fraudulent activity:

  8. heyrick Silver badge

    Google, you suck donkey balls

    This is, logically, the same dick waving rubbish that has Google Play Services update when it wants, including on mobile data when you've told it to only update on WiFi.

    You know, some people pay for their data allocation. So disabling autoplay makes sense, and as for that pitiful excuse about animated GIF, sorry but if you actually cared about users, you'd have an option to simply not fetch media content that is over X kilobytes (say about 256 or 360?) unless the user taps its placeholder.

    Clearly pandering to advertisers is more important than a safe, stable, reliable user experience.

    1. sw guy

      Re: Google, you suck donkey balls

      Oh, I remember times where there was an browser option to load images on demand only

      1. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: Google, you suck donkey balls

        Firefox on Android (am older one that, like, works) and UBlock Origin. Drops placeholders for every image over 256K. Works with fancy JavaScript image manipulation too.

        Sure, it breaks some sites (like online shopping) but there's an option to allow images for that site upon my discretion.

        So there's absolutely no technical reason why it can't be done. Simply a matter of an advertising company creating a browser that makes it easier to provide intrusive adverting. Duh, whodathunkit?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Piss. Off. Google

    You evil, evil bastards

  10. lglethal Silver badge

    Consumer friendly options

    1) No Autoplay EVER.

    2) Fetch video content only when it is clicked on.

    3) images/Gifs etc limited to a few hundred kb each. Anything larger than this is only fetched once clicked on.

    See how easy that was? But of course google is not interested in what the consumer wants. We're not the ones paying them, that's the advertisers. So the advertisers get what they want and we, the consumers, get screwed. Vote with you're feet people, thats the only option... (yes I'm well aware that I'm preaching to the choir on El Reg. It doesnt change the message though...)

    1. fpx
      Thumb Up

      Re: Consumer friendly options

      I would also like to add:

      4) Play animated gifs only when clicked on.

      5) Ignore Javascript attempts to replace image content.

      Now is there a browser that lets me do all of that?

  11. poohbear

    What worries me about all this (and similar-but different stunts from Mozilla) is that browsing becomes increasingly risky and unpleasant, especially on mobile.

    And then people just surf less.. and my websites get less traffic and my income goes down (again).

    I'm already seeing Adsense put two ads one right after the other on my sites ... which is the sort of thing that drives people to adblockers...

    Netcraft August survey:

    In the August 2020 survey we received responses from 1,230,576,586 sites across 261,821,287 unique domains and 10,349,486 web-facing computers. This represents a loss of 3.65 million sites, but a gain of 1.16 million domains and 128,000 computers.

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Hmm. I don't make any "income" from my website. I have a job that pays the bills. Stuff on my site is, well, it's a hobby. It's what I do for fun. I have no obligations, I don't have to make arbitrary quotas, and a sure as hell wouldn't ever pollute it with random unknown third party crap trying to hawk other people's wares.

      So please, adblock the hell out of me. It won't change much, nor will I care. In fact, I'd salute your efforts in trying to curb the amount of utter dross that gets included with content these days...

  12. Anonymous Coward

    100MB GIFS

    The real problem here is that Chrome doesn't auto-block any webpage more than 10 KBytes.

    Introducing that as a limit would make the web a much nicer place. :-)

  13. nintendoeats Silver badge

    It's almost like...

    the same people who create large parts of the internet...

    and who fund larger parts of the internet...

    and are funded BY large parts of the internet...

    should not also be running your gateway to the internet.

    I have never understood why somebody would choose to use chrome. It's like hiring a burglar to install your locks.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @nintendoeats - Remember those times

      when the big E icon on the desktop was known to users as the Internet ? Now you understand ?

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