Mike Isaac

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Facebook Tests Auto-Play News Feed Videos on Mobile

facebook_ios_appCurious to see what Facebook’s in-stream video ads will look like? Some of you will get a hint of it today — sort of.

No, Facebook isn’t rolling out its long-awaited, oft-delayed in-stream video ad product. The company is, however, rolling out a small test on Thursday, where some users will begin to see auto-playing in-stream videos.

Some caveats: For those in the test group, they’ll only see those auto-play videos from other users — not advertisers or brands — who upload video directly to Facebook or through Instagram or a handful of other apps. The videos won’t have audio as you scroll through the News Feed, playing with sound only if you tap them to go full-screen. And for now, it’s a mobile-only test for Android and iPhone users.

It’s an easy way to test how people will react to seeing auto-playing videos show up in their streams without fully ticking them off with more noticeable advertisements. Concern about the user experience is why we haven’t seen auto-play video ads show up, according to AdAge. Gauge how folks respond to regular old user-generated content first, then stick the ads in later.

I don’t particularly care for the idea of auto-play videos — much less auto-play ads — so I can only imagine the general public won’t love it either. Still, I played around with the test version earlier this week, and it wasn’t awful. We’ll see whether that belief prevails.

Don’t expect a wide roll-out, as only a percentage of Facebook’s billion-plus user network will see it.

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus