Facebook Will Now Auto-Play Videos. Really.

You know, at this point, I’m genuinely starting to wonder if there are human beings operating Facebook. And if there are, I’m starting to wonder if they ever go on the Internet outside of Facebook, because they just announced the worst possible idea: If there’s a video in your feed, it’s just going to start playing.

Seriously. Facebook is just going to start playing videos. Linger on a page for more than a second and the video will just start rolling, thankfully without sound. Oh, did we mention this is also going to be on mobile apps?

Today we’re starting to test an easier way to watch videos on Facebook. Now when you see a video in News Feed, it comes to life and starts playing. Videos initially play silently, and if you want you can tap to play with sound in full screen. Scroll past if you don’t want to watch.

But don’t worry, it’s only for individuals, verified Pages, and bands. Facebook is basically waiting for the backlash to settle and then they’ll start offering it to advertisers.

Q. Will videos from advertisers start playing when I see them in News Feed?

A. At first, this feature will be limited to videos posted by individuals, musicians, and bands. We’re doing this to make sure we create the best possible experience. Over time, we’ll continue to explore how to bring this to marketers in the future.

It’s nice to know The Amazing Criswell has a job writing copy for Facebook. But aside from that, the pretense that this isn’t ultimately about Facebook auto-playing ads is a bit insulting. We can see how the stock price is doing, guys.

We’ve got to wonder how they think this is going to be received, especially on mobile. If Facebook becomes an enormous data suck, and it’s hard to see how it wouldn’t if it starts constantly streaming online video, it’s going to drive down whatever metric Facebook uses to track those users. Similarly, the more the site mutates into Ridley Scott’s idea of a magazine, the more likely it seems users will be driven away.

At this rate, a paid social network, or a “Facebook subscription”, is only a year or so away. Either that or we’ll all start finally using Google+.