I have a couple pet peeves to air today, which I will do in two posts.
The first: web sites that eat up valuable megabytes of my monthly Internet allowance by playing videos automatically.
My Internet plan — it costs me $100 a month — gives me 6 gigabytes per month, which is shared between my smartphone and my mobile Internet stick. I live in a remote area, so I don’t have access to Internet service over a phone line.
So there I was today browsing three sites in three separate windows on my laptop: ABC News for the John Kerry story, Twitter for reaction to the John Kerry story, and Facebook. I happened to glance at the Internet usage box that was ticking away in the corner of my screen like a taxi-cab meter and discovered it had racked up 100 megabytes in a matter of minutes.
Why so much?
Well, I discovered that each of the sites I had up were playing videos in less than prominent positions.
Yes, even the Twitter page had a video playing far down in the queue about Kerry, which somebody had uploaded. It was an 11-minute news report and it was playing.
It’s an issue for many people who don’t have unlimited Internet access. As a journalist who works on my paper’s website, I know that the print media are doing more and more video reporting. Most of them are pretty upfront about it: the videos are at the top of the report, so the reader can quickly close the window if you don’t want to spend your precious Internet resources on them. And not all of the videos play automatically: in many cases, you have to click on them to get them to start. Or you can stop them — after the ad at the beginning has played out.
But it’s the not-so-prominent videos that automatically play that really bug me: they are often placed deep on a page where you don’t see them right away.
One page I was one had about six videos in tiny windows that all played simultaneously.
Then there are the Facebook automatic videos that your friends put on their timelines. They are deep in the queue — you may not even know they are present, unless you see your Internet usage start spiking rapidly, as happened to me today.
What can be done about it? I’m not sure, and I’m hoping some tech-savvy people here can give me some tips. I use Firefox most of the time.