Mike Isaac

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Reminder: You Can’t Stop Instagram Videos From Auto-Playing Anymore

instagram3_systrom1Consider this your PSA for the day.

Two weeks ago, Instagram quietly updated its iOS and Android apps. It seemed incremental, but one important detail was mostly glossed over: There’s no longer a way to keep every video in your Instagram stream from automatically playing as you swipe through your feed.

Instagram replaced the switch that lets you turn off autoplay with two buttons: One that controls the audio, and another that makes auto-play either always on, or occur only when you’re connected to Wi-Fi. The off switch is gone altogether.

That’s noteworthy now more than ever, considering Instagram is on the verge of introducing paid advertisements to user feeds for the first time — a delicate topic for which the company has taken heat in the past.

The way Instagram sees it, it is a move to let users “more clearly control sound and data usage for videos on Instagram.” Your mileage may vary on whether you consider that reasonable.

But as for why you aren’t able to opt out of autoplay altogether, Instagram didn’t give me any sort of clear-cut answer at all. Quoth the spokeswoman:

“Now that we have addressed the primary concerns — audio and data controls — we think having video work consistently across platforms is best long term. We made the change in our last update to address this,” she said. In other words, it’s that way because Instagram says so.

I’m certainly not here to moralize whether or not a service should stick ads inside. It’s a free app! If you don’t like how it runs itself, don’t download it.

If anything, this is more of a reminder to not be too surprised when a sepia-soaked Burberry ad starts rolling before your very eyes.

You didn’t think Instagram would be ad-free forever, did you?


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik