4 Reasons Auto Play Videos on Most Websites Are Universally Hated

What exactly does a video about the Western Conference playoffs have to do with free agency next season?
What exactly does a video about the Western Conference playoffs have to do with free agency next season? Screengrab
There are plenty of annoyances associated with the internet, from trolls and fake news to hackers and spam. It's not all that surprising that the information superhighway is clogged with garbage after more than 20 years of operating unabated. It is why finding good, quality content is so rare and precious, it must not only be fostered, but protected from horrible website designs.

Chief among the issues facing readers is the auto play video. You see them on virtually every news website including this one. But the way smart companies—and we count ourselves among them—handle video content renders it, at worst, benign and, at best, helpful and informative. Do they swallow up your screen? Do they pop up even after you have scrolled? Most importantly, does the sound start blaring through your speakers?

Obtrusive video is one of the scourges of websites. And here's why everyone hates them.

We all consume information differently.

We've seen the metrics about how young people gobble up video content on YouTube like our dogs violently eat their food every morning. Problem is, when it comes to news in particular, video just isn't all that popular. The vast majority of people like to read their news because we can skim it. We don't have to sit through five minutes of video to get to the story. If you want to add it in addition to the text, great. By itself, hard pass.

Choice is a critical component of using the web.

One of the greatest features of the internet is its convenience. We can get it anywhere we go and view it through an increasingly diverse set of lenses that not only make it look different, but help us filter it appropriately. Auto play videos strip us of the choice of watching or not. And if there is one thing consumers of all things want, it is the ability to choose what they want to do, when they want to do it.

Auto play video invades your privacy.

Nothing breaks the silence of your day—literally and metaphorically—than stopping on a website and having a video blaring some horrible music and random chatter from your speakers. Maybe you are listening to music. Maybe you are sitting quietly at work trying to look busy instead of surfing a gossip website. Regardless, the noise is an intrusion and sometimes one that can cost you more than your sanity as you desperately seek the pause button.

They don't address your interests.

Perhaps nothing is more infuriating than a video playing in the background that has nothing to do with what you are reading. Advertisements are insidious, but even worse are news videos only semi-related to the content in front of you. Sports websites are often culprits here with roundtable discussions about the NBA at the top of a story about last night's game. And then there are the videos with no words, just photos layered with big words telling you the story you are looking at in dumbed down fashion with crappy stock music in the background. That might work on social media, but keep it off our news websites.
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke