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Google Says Chrome Blocks 'About Half' of Unwanted Autoplays (venturebeat.com) 102

When Google released Chrome 66 just over two weeks ago, it received lots of attention and praise for introducing the ability to mute autoplaying videos with sound until you press play. Today, Chrome product manager John Pallett revealed that "the new policy blocks about half of unwanted autoplays." VentureBeat reports: Pallett also shared that "a significant number" of autoplays are paused, muted, or have their tab closed within six seconds by Chrome users. He didn't say how many exactly, as the number varies significantly from site to site. But that shouldn't surprise anyone, given how much work Google put into this latest feature. Chrome decides which autoplaying content to stop in its tracks by learning your preferences and ranking each website according to your past behavior. If you don't have browsing history with a site, Chrome allows autoplay for over 1,000 sites where Google says the highest percentage of visitors play media with sound (sites where media is the main point of visiting the site). As you browse the web, Chrome updates that list by enabling autoplay on sites where you play media with sound during most of your visits, and disables it on sites where you don't.
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Google Says Chrome Blocks 'About Half' of Unwanted Autoplays

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  • by sinij ( 911942 ) on Thursday May 03, 2018 @08:52PM (#56551304)
    While this is a good feature I don't trust Google's motives. They have done this to drive more business toward AdWords, that would never get blocked.
    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      While this is a good feature I don't trust Google's motives. They have done this to drive more business toward AdWords, that would never get blocked

      Is AdWords even a thing anymore? I don't think I've seen one of those in a LONG time.

      You have to remember Google is more than AdWords. AdWords is probably a tiny part of their business, given they bought out the big ad networks like DoubleClick, AdMob and many others a long time ago. Enough so that all those flashy pop-up ads that annoy you on relatively legitim

      • Imagine the reputation hit that would ensue should Alphabet/Google get known for bringing about a massive malware attack because someone snuck something through.

        Perhaps you might argue the meaning of "massive" but it has [malwarebytes.com] already [fox-it.com] happened [sucuri.net] and there was almost no reputation hit.

    • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Friday May 04, 2018 @07:48AM (#56552948)

      While this is a good feature I don't trust Google's motives. hey have done this to drive more business toward AdWords, that would never get blocked.

      AdWords, the internet's least offensive form of advertising. Sometimes the motives of a for profit organisation actually align just fine with the desires of users.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 03, 2018 @09:14PM (#56551376)

    Autoplay video like the "mind-blowingly inconsiderate, rude, and completely unaware co-worker" of the web. There has literally never, ever been an instance where some video started playing and I was all like "Oh, wow, I am so fucking grateful I didn't have to click a button to make that happen." There are dozens of instances per day where I'm clicking to make it stop (well, before some of the browsers started clamping down).

    Autoplay is just obnoxious and rude. Sites that use it are obnoxious and rude. People who develop and implement it are obnoxious and rude. Fuck them all in the ass with a nuclear weapon.

  • by EmperorOfCanada ( 1332175 ) on Thursday May 03, 2018 @09:29PM (#56551418)
    I would throw out a guess that I don't want to see over 95% of non youtube vidoes that try to play on web pages. Even youtube's going onto the next video would fall under this 95%. Pretty much, unless your video is on youtube, I don't want to see it. That 3D animation your company paid $30k for that resulted in mathematically perfect workers kind of forward moon walking while carrying your product is at the bottom of my list. I came to your site for a price or contact info. The news article that won't shut up and has the video follow me down the page while I read the article is at the bottom of my list.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    If your video autoplays, your site is now muted. Permanently.

  • Hey Google! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Snotnose ( 212196 ) on Thursday May 03, 2018 @10:02PM (#56551532)
    Point your browser at the Chicken Noodle Network (cnn.com). They not only have an autoplay video, they make the damned thing follow you down as you read the page. Please block that.
    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      Point your browser at the Chicken Noodle Network (cnn.com). They not only have an autoplay video, they make the damned thing follow you down as you read the page. Please block that.

      Just about every newspaper's website that isn't the BBC in the UK does the same thing. FFS, Get Reading does it and Reading is a town of 160,000 people. Annoying as fuck. So much so that most sites I don't bother to visit any more.

    • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )
      I added uBlock after noscript became too troublesome/possible? to configure and clicktoscript no longer worked on HTML5. Because when the ad companies figured out how to get around autoplay blockers I had, it took me less than 2 days to find an alternative that effectively stopped that annoying nonsense. As a bonus, pages load faster too.
    • I wasn't able to reliably kill that with uBlock, so I just stopped going to CNN. Apparently the number of people who put up with that shit dwarfs the number of us who don't.

  • by markdavis ( 642305 ) on Thursday May 03, 2018 @10:28PM (#56551596)

    >"Google Says Chrome Blocks 'About Half' of Unwanted Autoplays""

    Sorry, but simply muting is not "blocking" autoplaying videos. If the video is playing, it is still using bandwidth, using CPU, using power, and is visually extremely annoying.

    Fail.

    Let us know you when you *actually* block autoplay and when you can do it more like 80+% of the time, like I can do in Firefox right now with the "Disable HTML5 Autoplay" addon.

    https://addons.mozilla.org/en-... [mozilla.org]

    Far from perfect, but much better (IMHO) than what Chrome does.

    • There's lots of Chrome extensions that turn off html5 autoplay too.

      • by green1 ( 322787 )

        If only Chrome extensions worked on mobile.... You know, the place where you most care of some greedy, slimy, site is abusing your very limited and very expensive bandwidth.

        • I have autoplay blocked on Chrome for Android.
          I never set it, so I assume it's the default.

          • by green1 ( 322787 )

            autoplay blocked? or just muted? muted still takes the same amount of bandwidth as if it were playing at full volume.

            • Blocked. There is an option to enable autoplay for muted videos.
              Chrome 66 for Android

              • by green1 ( 322787 )

                I'm on Chrome 66 for Android and I see autoplay videos (muted) many times every day on a variety of different sites. If there's a way to prevent it I'm all ears! (On my laptop I have an extension that prevents it, but no such luck on my phone)

        • Firefox extensions work on firefox mobile, I have adblock, autoplay block and a few others.
          • Yes, I use Firefox Mobile for this exact reason. It's a shame though, because Firefox Mobile is absolute, unmitigated garbage compared with Chrome or even that Samsung browser thing on Android.

            It will leave my phone hot too the touch on heavier websites that Chrome will barely break a sweat on. And text entry... my god is that broken. To the point where many sites, touching where in the text box you want your cursor causes it to be placed in a completely different spot, or the whole page to scroll away. The

        • by tepples ( 727027 )

          Would you prefer that websites fall back from muted autoplaying WebM to muted autoplaying GIF animation, which requires a higher bitrate than WebM?

          • by green1 ( 322787 )

            I would prefer that Browsers treated the owner of the computer as being in charge, rather than the idiot web "designer".
            Let users decide if they want to waste all their bandwidth downloading video.

            Years ago when connections were slower, all major browsers gave you the option whether or not to load images from websites automatically. Now obviously that's not what people are clamoring for now, but video is the new image, and the choice as to whether or not to download them should rest with the person paying f

            • by tepples ( 727027 )

              Let users decide if they want to waste all their bandwidth downloading video.

              With the numerous ways to animate something in the web platform, good luck detecting "video" before it's downloaded.

              • by green1 ( 322787 )

                I disagree, If you can't tell if it's video or not, you also wouldn't be able to play it. The fact that you can play it means you know what it is, and can also block it.

                Browser coders aren't as completely incompetent as you make them out to be.

                • by tepples ( 727027 )

                  If you can't tell if it's video or not, you also wouldn't be able to play it

                  JavaScript code downloads a file, runs an algorithm on its bytes [github.com], and updates the pixel content of a <canvas> element. Is that video? How would a browser be able to tell?

                  JavaScript code downloads a bunch of JPEG or PNG images and displays them in sequence on an <img> element. Is that video? How would a browser be able to tell?

                  An element has a JPEG background image whose position within its container is advanced by steps using a CSS animation [pineight.com]. Is that video? How would a browser be able to tell?

                  • by green1 ( 322787 )

                    Well to start with it's not nearly as complicated as you make it out to be because nobody is trying to use such sneaky tactics, but beyond that, it's still easy, does the image change on a frequent basis with no user input? then it's a video. Done.

                    You are WAY over complicating matters. This isn't rocket science, there are dozens of extensions that are able to accomplish this feat with near 100% success, there's no reason why it can't also be done on a mobile phone.

          • Then we block *.gif.

            • by tepples ( 727027 )

              When you've blocked muted autoplaying WebM or GIF, would you prefer that websites fall back to a sequence of JPEG or PNG images rotated by script? Or storing frames in a JPEG and using CSS animation to cycle among them?

    • I'm using firefox with uMatrix and I haven't seen an autoplay video in years.

      One time I thought it was broken but I'd accidentally clicked the youtube slider.

    • Sorry, but simply muting is not "blocking" autoplaying videos. If the video is playing, it is still using bandwidth, using CPU, using power, and is visually extremely annoying.

      Fail.

      You don't understand how the feature works. Autoplaying videos ARE blocked if they contain sound. Muted autoplay is still allowed. Additionally autoplay is allowed if you bookmarked the site or interact with the site regularly and you can control that with the mute option. e.g. if you tick mute on the domain level then video autoplay is blocked for any video that doesn't have sound.

      The entire purpose of this is to kill off background sound in tabs. I.e. you open a link in the background, if it has sound it

      • by tepples ( 727027 )

        The few things you mention slip through on some unobnoxious videos, and are mild compared to the effect of having audio suddenly playing.

        It's not "mild" when you get the data use overage bill at the end of the month.

      • >"Autoplaying videos ARE blocked if they contain sound. Muted autoplay is still allowed."

        Then that is not "blocking autoplay" it is "blocking some autoplay", which to me, is nowhere good enough.

        The video is just as annoying to me as the audio, especially when it "follows me down the page" all the time while I am trying to read something. I don't want the web to be turned into TV, or even muted TV.

    • Let us know you when you *actually* block autoplay and when you can do it more like 80+% of the time, like I can do in Firefox right now with the "Disable HTML5 Autoplay" addon.

      Does your autoplay blocker also block motion JPEG implemented in pure CSS [pineight.com]?

      • >Does your autoplay blocker also block motion JPEG implemented in pure CSS?

        Unfortunately, no. I have to manually use "Nuke Anything" to stop it.

    • by Mousit ( 646085 )

      Let us know you when you *actually* block autoplay and when you can do it more like 80+% of the time, like I can do in Firefox right now with the "Disable HTML5 Autoplay" addon.

      You may not need that plug-in anymore. Firefox also has built-in autoplay blocking, and has had it for quite a number of versions now. It is however still an experimental, hidden feature. It can be turned on in about:config by toggling "media.autoplay.enabled" to false.

      I forget exactly when I found that setting and started using it, but it's been years now. While it's not perfect, and getting videos that you WANT to see to actually play can occasionally be a little finicky (Twitter takes a few clicks

      • >"You may not need that plug-in anymore. Firefox also has built-in autoplay blocking, and has had it for quite a number of versions now. It is however still an experimental, hidden feature. It can be turned on in about:config by toggling "media.autoplay.enabled" to false."

        I am aware of their feature tried it for years, and it is, unfortunately, quite broken. There are lots of bug reports on it. Many sites can't be made to play video at all with it set to false. The add-on I mentioned works much better

        • by q4Fry ( 1322209 )

          Last I checked, Firefox was looking at changing to what Chrome does, which will make it even WORSE, because it is not about muting audio, it is about not having autoplaying anything.

          You mean what Chrome does with chrome://flags/#autoplay-policy [chrome]? Or the "Media Interaction" voodoo that TFA talks about?

  • it's unwanted (keep up Google).

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Friday May 04, 2018 @03:43AM (#56552372)

    Chrome is now about half as useful as the average adblocker.

  • what about all? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sad_ ( 7868 ) on Friday May 04, 2018 @06:50AM (#56552836) Homepage

    Just block them all!
    Then you will have a 100% success rate, and when you actually want it to play, just press the play button, it's doesn't require much effort.

  • by CHK6 ( 583097 ) on Friday May 04, 2018 @08:46AM (#56553128)
    Firefox blocks 100% unwanted autoplays. Granted you have to know about the media.autoplay.enabled setting in Firefox, but once you do it's all good.

    Keep up the good work Google, you'll get there one day.
  • I cannot imagine when any user would want auto-playing video and sound on a web site. I use Chrome and I have not noticed any decline in the number of these irritating auto-playing and pop-up videos. I particularly hate the news sites where the video will pop up on the right hand side of the screen if you stop it at the top of the page -- and no close button is provided in the pop-up window.

    • by tepples ( 727027 )

      Say you're playing a web-based video game. Every time something happens in the game, a sound effect plays. Do you want to have to click play 20 times for 20 sound effects?

      • Yes, that would be great. Then I could just add that specific site to a whitelist. Much better hit rate that way than the 50/50 Google has apparently achieved.

  • by Holi ( 250190 ) on Friday May 04, 2018 @10:15AM (#56553560)
    Seriously does anyone want auto playing videos besides crappy advertisers? And they want a pat on the back for what, allowing 1/2 to get through? They have the power the stop them all, and they should be tarred and feathered for not using it.
  • We do not want for you to do any analysis on what we are or are not interested in preventing from autoplaying. We are interested in a feature that will prevent EVERYTHING from autoplaying, except for those sites that we explicitly whitelist. This is FAR easier to implement than the ridiculous mumbo-jumbo that you are pushing. Which you are doing for one of two reasons - either you guys are stupid and can't see it, or else you are doing so because you want the autoplay feature untouched for some specific sit

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