If you use Twitter on an iPad or iPhone, check your settings now, as its new 'autoplay' default video setting could eat into your data allowance and leave you with a big bill. And for Android users, it's 'coming soon'.
The social media giant this week rolled out the 'feature' on its apps for Apple's iOS for iPhone and iPad, as well as for desktop users. It tries to sell autoplay as a positive, despite it being annoying to many users and a potential money pit. Fortunately, you can turn it off.
As its name suggests, autoplay causes videos, including advertising, to play automatically as you scroll down your screen. It does the same with Vines (short, looped videos) and animated GIFs. Previously (and still on Android, although that will change soon) the default was that you needed to tap a video to play it.
Those using Twitter via 3G or 4G mobile data can get stung, as playing videos eats up your data allowance. (See our Cheap Mobile Broadband guide for how to cut the cost of data on the move). We're urging users to change their settings – for how, see below.
Last year Facebook users were hit by a similar issue, with MoneySavers complaining they faced hefty charges after the social network launched video autoplay. See our Facebook app user? Beware big bills MSE news story for more on this as well as help turning off this setting on Facebook on your device.
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Many users have told Twitter, via Twitter, that they despise autoplay:
- @TheBezza77: "Looks like #twitter is going from a social network to an advertising network #Autoplay videos – no thanks."
- @AndyM_N3: "We all know #autoplay sucks. Please don't go there @twitter."
- @StevenBrust: Well, yeah. I mean, given that I HAVE NEVER MET A SINGLE PERSON IN MY LIFE WHO LIKES AUTOPLAY, that makes sense.
- @adrianMulholla1: "Don't want or need autoplay."
- @mennake: "#Twitter to roll out the most undisputed, universal #socialmedia site nuisance, #autoplay."
How to turn off Twitter autoplay
Twitter says those with high data rates or low bandwidth on their devices will be opted out of autoplay to avoid unexpected charges or poor performance, but it hasn't said what counts as a 'high' data rate or specified how this will work in practice.
- iPhone: Go to your profile in the Twitter app > tap the gear icon (the small wheel at the top of your profile) > select 'Settings' > tap 'Video autoplay'. Select 'Never play videos automatically'.
- Desktop via Twitter.com: Click your profile icon > select 'Settings' from the dropdown menu > in the 'Account' section next to 'Video Tweets', uncheck 'Autoplay videos'.
- iPad: In the Twitter app, tap 'Settings' > scroll to 'Video autoplay' > select 'Never play videos automatically'.
- Android: Twitter says the autoplay function will be coming to Android soon, so watch out for this happening and change your settings when it does (we checked both the handset and Twitter app settings on Android phones to see if we could turn off autoplay now but we could not see any settings relating to video autoplay).
I've been hit with unfair charges. Whom do I complain to?
You can use our online complaints tool Resolver to make a complaint to your provider or you can contact your mobile provider directly to tell it why you think the charges are unfair and ask it to refund the money.
If this doesn't work, you can take your complaint to the Communications and Internet Services Adjudication Scheme (CISAS) or to the Ombudsman Services depending on which one your provider is signed up to.