Outside of publishers and advertisers, it’s not exactly clear who likes autoplaying videos. Consumers of web pages don’t seem to like them that much but somehow they’ve stuck around for a couple of years now.
This could soon change if a bill proposed in Congress gets passed. The Smart (Social Media Addiction Reduction Technology) Act which I’ll admit is terribly named might put an end to the following types of internet features which encourage addictive behaviours:
- Infinite scroll or auto-refill – You know when you open Twitter and new tweets instantly pop up. Yeah, that should stop according to the bill.
- Autoplay – when you finish watching a YouTube video on your laptop, pick up your phone for a second (not literally a second but yeah…) and the next thing you hear is another YouTube video playing (with no input from you). That’s got to go as well.
- Badges linked to usage – Snapchat had a streak system which encouraged repeated use. Out the window as well.
- Elimination of natural stopping points – ” a catch-all category for any website that loads more content than a typical user scrolls through in three minutes without the user expressly requesting that additional content. “
The senator who passed the bill -Josh Hawley- argues that tech companies have “embraced addiction as their business model” and if you’ve used apps such as Facebook, WhatsApp and smartphones and their incessant wave of notifications, it’s not necessarily false.