Facebook blamed for high mobile data usage charges

Higher than normal mobile data usage wrecking havoc upon your budget?  Spending more time checking out the latest online frenzy in which millions of Facebook users have uploaded videos drenching themselves with a bucket of ice water to promote awareness of the amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) disorder? Or do you have a bunch of small children at home who cannot distinguish the difference between “mobile data usage” and “Wi-Fi?”

New research has found that the auto-play video function within the mobile Facebook application could be to blame. And unless you have adjusted your default settings, these videos will begin playing automatically, both on Wi-Fi and on 3G and 4G connections.

According to MoneySavingExpert.com – a consumer savings website with over 13 million users a month – recent mobile phone complaints trended toward increased mobile data usage charges.  After conducting an extensive survey, they learned that more and more social media users were actively engaged in viewing Facebook auto-playing videos.

“We’ve seen many complaints from people who have been stung with (mobile) data bills after exceeding their monthly allowance and who believe it to be because of Facebook autoplaying videos,” reported MoneySavingExpert.com.

Whether on a smartphone or tablet, videos consume substantial amounts of mobile data.  Users who spend a lot of time scrolling through and responding to posts on their Facebook newsfeed started noticing higher mobile data usage charges coinciding with the “Ice Bucket Challenge” in July and August.  As part of the ALS challenge, people were prodded by their family and friends to accept the challenge of drenching themselves on video, making a donation to an associated ALS charity, or doing both.

“I started receiving data usage notices from Verizon indicating a higher than average usage,” Gineen Bresso, Vice President of Special Projects and General Counsel of the Wasie Foundation, told Examiner.  “I immediately changed my settings so that the videos would play on Wi-Fi only.”

Potentially problematic for limited data users on a budget, if you have been saddled with high mobile data usage charges you deem to be unfair, contact your mobile provider.  Most providers will provide a “one-time” 2GB courtesy credit of data.

Smartphone and tablet users have an option to prevent videos from automatically playing on their device by changing the settings on Facebook.  A “Wi-Fi” only option also exists.  Here are the instructions:

Apple:  Go to your phone’s Settings > Click Facebook > Click Settings > Select ‘Auto-play only on Wi-fi’, or ‘Off’.

Android:  Facebook application functions can be controlled through the device or through the Facebook app itself.  Go to your Facebook account Settings > Click App Settings > Then within General Settings select ‘Auto-play only on Wi-Fi’, or ‘Off.’

Desktop/laptop:  On Facebook itself, go to Settings using the drop down menu > Click Videos > Click on the drop-down menu next to ‘Auto-Play Videos’ and select ‘Off.’

“As a military servicemember, I can ill afford the excessive data charges,” Remington Longstreth of Fort Benning told Examiner. “One call to AT&T and they explained how to update the settings on my smartphone.”

Topping over $110 million in worldwide donations from July 29 to August 29 – compared to $2.8 million during the same time period last year – the true power and might of social media became evident with the Ice Bucket Challenge.


Bill Lewis of Fort Lauderdale – Radio talk show host, Starbucks connoisseur, social media whiz, political consultant, identity theft expert, columnist, philanthropist and his kids Dad.

As a nationally recognized credit repair and ID theft expert, Bill Lewis is principal of William E. Lewis Jr. & Associates, a solutions based professional consulting firm specializing in the discriminating individual, business or governmental entity.

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