Double-check your autoplay settings for Facebook before you get that huge bill

Combination of app and OS updates may reset your setting to the defaults.
Written by David Chernicoff, Contributor

Back in September, an article on the website MoneySavingExpert.com caught the fact that the default Facebook setting to autoplay video could possibly cost consumers money, as the videos would use data that the consumer was paying for, possibly driving some users over their data caps -- resulting in extra charges on their bills. At the time, Facebook stated that their now biweekly app updates would not make any changes to user settings, so if users turned autoplay off, it would stay off.

However, with the combination of iOS updates and app updates, my personal experience with two iPhones on my business data plan is that both ended up going back to the default setting of autoplay on, at some point in the last two months. This might sound like it's not that big a deal, but consider this:

On one phone, where the user is what I would describe as an average Facebook user, with regular, daily interaction on Facebook, primarily for personal use, the average data use on the phone had gone from 3GB to 6 GB per month over the last two months, with no changes in usage patterns.

On the second and much more significant use case, a user who is an extreme Facebook consumer, both personally and for business reasons that require monitoring Facebook and interacting with customers, saw their monthly data usage go up by an average of 9 GB over the two month period. As I said earlier, both devices, which previously had autoplay turned off, were found to now have autoplay enabled.

While the second is clearly an extreme case, this clearly highlights the need for a reliable mobile device management solution for business-owned mobile devices. With only 10 devices (6 phones, 4 tablets) on my mobile data plan, I previously only casually managed data usage. Going forward, I plan to keep a much closer eye on usage, using the data alerts that I can set with my provider.

But if your responsibility includes dozens -- or possibly hundreds -- of mobile devices, you may find yourself in for a severe case of sticker shock if you don't have a way to monitor and manage apps and data on those devices for which you are responsible.

Also, while many people set autoplay to work only when devices are using WiFi, watch out for the gotcha of the backdoor. It is fairly common to use a mobile device as a wireless access point, and if other devices are within range and configured to auto-switch between WiFi and module data, they will use that access as if it was a WiFi connection, meaning that apps on that device will behave with the WiFi connection restrictions, not those you may have set on mobile data usage.

You can change the settings on the Facebook app in both iOS and Android to stop video autoplay. Keep in mind that there are other apps that will play automatically, as well, and it behooves you to disable their ability to autoplay, too.

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