Social networks told to rethink video autoplay strategy by MPs

A group of MPs have told Facebook and Twitter to reconsider the autoplay function after many users accidentally viewed a video of a murder.

Earlier this week, video footage of two US journalists being shot dead by a former colleague appeared on various social networking sites across the Internet.

Many social media websites, including Facebook and Twitter, have an autoplay function for video content meaning many viewers were exposed to graphic content without their full consent.

The Parliamentary Internet, Communications and Technology Forum (Pictfor) has said such companies should ensure appropriate warnings are put in place before potentially upsetting content is played.

“Facebook, Google, Microsoft and others have already worked together with government and regulators to prevent people being exposed to illegal, extremist content, using both automatic and manual techniques to identify footage,” Pictfor chair Matt Warman told the BBC.

“Social media, just like traditional media, should consider how shocking other content can be and make sure consumers are warned appropriately,” he added.

Rethink Default Settings

Although both Facebook and Twitter have the option to turn autoplay off, autoplay is the default setting and Warman believes that social media companies need to be aware that one size does not fit all.

“For victims, friends and families it’s important to make sure that in an online world without a watershed users know what they’re about to see and have a reasonable opportunity to stop it,” the Boston and Skegness MP said.

“Many people who are ordinarily happy that videos play will have seen shocking footage by accident, without warning of its graphic nature,” he added.

A number of social media users used their accounts to complain about the graphic material appearing on their timelines and feeds.

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