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Chrome 66 Arrives With Autoplaying Content Blocked By Default (venturebeat.com) 88

An anonymous reader quotes a report from VentureBeat: Google today launched Chrome 66 for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. The desktop release includes autoplaying content muted by default, security improvements, and new developer features. You can update to the latest version now using the browser's built-in silent updater or download it directly from google.com/chrome. In our tests, autoplaying content that is muted still plays automatically. Autoplaying content with sound, whether it has visible controls or not, and whether it is set to play on loop or not, simply does not start playing. Note that this is all encompassing -- even autoplaying content you are expecting or is the main focus of the page does not play. YouTube videos, for example, no longer start playing automatically. And in case that's not enough, or if a page somehow circumvents the autoplaying block, you can still mute whole websites.
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Chrome 66 Arrives With Autoplaying Content Blocked By Default

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  • by sbrown123 ( 229895 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2018 @09:04AM (#56457437) Homepage

    So many sites playing audio and video ads nowadays. And they work more diligently than the best ad blockers at getting in your face.

    • Just last night, I was looking up some information, I still head headphones plugged in to my laptop, but I didn't have them in my ears. I went back to working in an other program, then I heard faint voices to my left. I first I thought the neighbors were talking, but it kept on having the voices, and that wasn't the pattern of someone loudly talking. being that the earbuds had fallen in the couch, to my left the most advanced piece of technology was an end-table lamp with a Compact Florescent bulb. My wif

      • by sinij ( 911942 )
        You found your way to /. so you are not a technological troglodyte. From your story it is obvious that they bothered you. So why are you not blocking these ads?
        • It got past the Ad Blocker. Hence why it bothered me so. It was just so unexpected.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          You call others technological troglodytes and yet you seem to think ad blockers are magical devices that block 100% of ads.

          • by sinij ( 911942 )
            They do for me.

            I use Pale Moon with No Script configured to only allow white list and I back that up with a host file redirecting to 127.0.0.1 a large known list of bad actors.
            About the only part I have to intervene is when a site uses cloud, in such cases I have to temporarily enable various domains to get it to load.
    • by sycodon ( 149926 )

      In the heyday of Newspapers, fortunes were made with little more than static ads on the same pages of the news and in the back of the paper.

      But for some reason the Ad Industry now believes that they have to actually block content with their ad in order for it to be effective, shout at you, and nag you.

      I have never clicked on, let alone purchased a product contained in one of these intrusive ads.

      I have clicked on and purchased a product in ads by Northern Tools and Harbor Freight, which were simply static ad

      • Those fortunes relied on things like half-page and full-page ads, in some ways analogous to the same thing we have now in that the content could have been one page forward but to get to the content, you have to go through the ad. The same is only barely tolerated now online, but that tolerance is declining as they become more frequent.

        What made them tolerable in the newspaper era was that most entities couldn't afford those ads, so they were less common. Someone doing that had something that probably intere

      • Re:About time (Score:5, Insightful)

        by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2018 @11:10AM (#56458101) Homepage Journal
        It's not just advertisers. Who else is fed up with clicking on a news link only for it to start playing a 720P autoplaying video version of the same article that's already written below it? The web isn't a fucking television you stupid fuckers. Offer people a video if they want one, but don't shove this bandwidth sucking loud piece of shit I never asked for, that takes longer to consume than the writing below it, on me. Assholes.
        • Preach it! I don't watch news for a reason. And I don't go to a news article I want to read to have it read to me.
        • by sycodon ( 149926 )

          A-Fucking-Men!

        • Most of the time I go to read an article and have to get ready to pause the auto-playing video of something that's got absolutely nothing to do with the article itself. Why is there a need to play a video about something completely irrelevant?! Often times they don't even play an ad first, they're just wasting bandwidth for no good reason. It's no wonder most of these sites are failing. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

      • Perhaps you should click on the ads and then avoid purchasing anything from the company.

        If more people did that, ads would cost more and return less value.

    • by imidan ( 559239 )

      And they work more diligently than the best ad blockers

      And that's really weird to me. Outside of intrusive ads, all I should need is a browser setting queryable from JS that means "I don't want auto-playing media content." Then when I go to CNN or somewhere, they should check that value and not play their video because I've told them I don't want it.

      Instead, I have a browser extension whose entire purpose is to stop autoplaying media, and sites like CNN seem to keep finding ways to work around the extension

  • by DontBeAMoran ( 4843879 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2018 @09:06AM (#56457443)

    I'm tired of websites wasting my bandwidth with videos I never wanted to watch in the first place.

    Now can we do something about those awful video-converted-to-animated-GIF monstrosities?

    • I could care less about the bandwidth - not on dial up and my cell phone data plan works great - but they annoy the heck out of me. Especially when I go to news articles.

      Worst is when they have a delay and don't start playing until after a few seconds (after I have already scrolled past it.) It can be embarrassing at work and annoying to my family at home

      • by tepples ( 727027 )

        my cell phone data plan works great

        Until you reach the monthly quota that your cellular ISP imposes. After that point, enjoy paying $10 per gigabyte (on some plans) or getting throttled back to 0.1 Mbps on 2G (on other plans).

    • When you're on a cable modem with caps, this can be a real problem. I've dozed off watching a YouTube video after a long day at work. Woke up 5 hours later to find it streaming out videos as fast as it can. The next you know, you've busted your cap.
  • by Jay Maynard ( 54798 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2018 @09:19AM (#56457509) Homepage

    I just updated to Chrome 66. By far my biggest autoplay annoyance is CNN; they autoplay video on every story page that has video. I'm there to read, dammit, not to watch.

    Unfortunately, this new feature in Chrome isn't helping, there: CNN still autoplays, with sound. I checked, and my media engagement index there is 0.02.

    Guess it's time to turn the hard HTML5 media block back on.

    And why not give us an option to stop autoplay on videos, whether sound is present or not?

    • by sinij ( 911942 )
      Primary motivation for rolling HTML5 media was that Flash was too easy to auto-block.
      • Primary motivation for HTML5 media was that it didn't work on iPhones and iPads. Apple also stopped bundling Flash with Safari on macOS. Since Apple users are the ones with the money, the ads simply followed.

      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

        Primary motivation for rolling HTML5 media was that Flash was too easy to auto-block.

        HTML5 video is easy to auto block as well, because browsers don't have to load the media associated with the tag. Even better, they don't have to obey the autoplay property (and some browsers don't).

        Browsers also make it possible to avoid javascript toggling video playback - they can simply insist that a user click is required to start playback, not some piece of javascript "clicking" the button.

        This is a lot better control

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Even if you disable HTML5 video those fuckers will just send you an animated GIF, and if that fails to play a stream of JPEGs updated by Javascript.

      Fortunately some combination of Privacy Badger, uBlock Origin, uBlockOrigin Extra, CanvasFingerprintBlock, Video Autoplay Blocker and Disable WebGL seems to kill it. That lot is blocking at least 23 items on this Slashdot comment page...

      • by sinij ( 911942 )
        Fascinating. I browse with Pale Moon and whitelist NoScript backed up by host file blacklisting and they have not yet figured out a way to get to me.
      • I have been planning to work on a "Nuclear option" Firefox plug-in for a while, which would do this:

        1. It'd detect whether a video is trying to autoplay.
        2. If one is, it'd do some checks against a whitelist or something similar to see if the video is legit (ie "Well, he's on YouTube, of course he'd want to watch the video", "Well, in fairness the link that brought him to this page had the word "video" or "watch" in it", etc.)
        3. If there's no good reason to think the autoplay is legitimate, then, after

      • Does your combination kill a motion JPEG player written in pure CSS [pineight.com], without using any specific rules for the domain it's on?

    • I won't go to CNN anymore. When you pause it an scroll down, it opens a little window at the bottom of the browser playing again!

      Fox has started doing this as well.

      I don't mind them including the video, I just don't get why they set it to autoplay. I get it with ads. I don't like it but I at least understand why they would force it on us. I don't understand why they feel the need to force the video news's clip on a written article.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Even the BBC started doing auto-play videos, although at least they don't follow you down the page and pause the audio when you scroll past.

        I've been using Firefox on Android lately. It's scrolling isn't as smooth as Chrome but the fact that you can run ad-blocking plugins means it uses a hell of a lot less data. There are host based blocking solutions on Android like DNS66, but they are not nearly as good as uBlock Origin.

      • by houghi ( 78078 )

        The reason I imagine they do it is to captivate people to stay longer on their site. The monger they stay, the more they sell. What they are selling the user is ads.
        Bit like trying to keep people as long as possible in a brick and mortar store. The longer people are there, the more they buy (Ikea is great at that)
        This will drive some people away. The thing is that it is a numbers game. If they have 10 visitors who, as a total, bring in an income of 1.00 USD and they lose 1 customer while the income goes to

    • i use firefox along the about:config option to disable autoplay. It usually meant broken sites in the past, but now it seems to be working fine

  • Why can’t we do the same with auto play, gifs, and everything else that fights for our attention?

    My gueriila suggestion: just start clicking on all ads that annoy you. Make the advertisers pay. And mess up their “valuable” tracking metrics in the process.

    -Chris

    • Because clicks on an ad are taken as positive feedback.

      Not to mention that they'll track you and start showing you more ads for that seller...

      • Exactly why a click campaign may work. At some point, advertising budgets have to be justified. While initially the clicks will be seen as a positive, after a quarter or two of no uptick in revenue relative to ad spend, those ad budgets will start to get questioned.

        Procter and Gamble is continuing to cut online ad spend due to the ineffectiveness of their ads. They're on the leading edge here, it's just up to the community to help move everyone else down that path (http://www.adweek.com/brand-marketing/when

    • or just browse the internet with Lynx. Who needs fancy schmancy looking symbols & signs these days?
    • That's a little how I handle spam phone calls now. Previously I only answered when the number was listed in my contacts (or I was expecting an important call from someone not in my contacts.) Now I answer every call and immediately touch the mute button. Then I just listen. My rationale is that it ties up one of their outbound lines until their system hangs up. Usually these calls remain silent and disconnect in a few seconds. One remained connected for 5 minutes. I wonder if I should say something in order

  • Feudal (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jbmartin6 ( 1232050 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2018 @09:20AM (#56457517)
    I had a moment of fun fitting this news into Bruce Shneier's notion of electronic feudalism. As serfs on the Google plantation, we look to Google to protect us from various raiding barbarians. We pay for this protection by allowing ourselves to be farmed by the Google ad machine.
    • by sinij ( 911942 )
      Well, wait until they start amputating your digital middle fingers so you are not able to protect yourself from raiding barbarians and have to rely on Google for protection.
  • I always thought they were a supreme waste of bandwidth and energy overall. Hopefully it will block any of those cryptocurrency engines some websites were using.
  • by DrXym ( 126579 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2018 @09:30AM (#56457589)
    Autoplay videos are intensely annoying, especially on many news websites that play a video and then continue playing *other* videos when the first one ends. Not only that, but they make the video follow you down the page when presumably you're just reading the article the video summarises. It is profoundly annoying.

    Browsers should by default not play any video but allow users to whitelist sites that they're okay about autoplay - streaming services and so on. It can be done discretely such as when the user first clicks to play some content that was set to autoplay.

  • Instead of muting, how about blocking even the downloading of media content by default? I can't believe how long it's taking to get there, but how useful a feature that would be for those of us that are sometimes forced to work on metered connections.

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Check out uMatrix in Firefox. It'll do just that.

    • by ledow ( 319597 )

      Yep... click-to-play was in the default Opera install since... god knows... 2009 or something ludicrous.

      We STILL haven't properly replicated it, even with all kinds of extensions and plug-ins.

      Life on the web was so much quieter and less disruptive with that browser. Such a shame all its "successors" are just poor Chrome-clones with none of the features that even a 15-year-old browser had.

    • OTOH, on a crappy but unmetered connection downloading but NOT playing is useful to prefetch more than the play would naturally buffer.

  • by nmb3000 ( 741169 ) <nmb3000@that-google-mail-site.com> on Wednesday April 18, 2018 @11:00AM (#56458021) Journal

    Why is there not a way to whitelist sites to allow automatic video playback? When I open a YouTube link, it's because I want to watch the video. That seems drastically different than autoplay ads or the garbage CNN forcibly shoves down your throat.

    On desktop, Chrome has a Media Engagement Index (MEI), which measures the propensity to consume media for each site you visit. You can check your MEI for each site by navigating to the chrome://media-engagement internal page. The MEI is determined by a ratio of visits to significant media playback events per origin, with these four factors taken into account:

    Oh, because Google wants to control what gets auto-played and what doesn't. Of course, how silly of me to expect them to grant lowly users this power.

    We received mixed results with YouTube videos, however — sometimes they played automatically and other times they did not.

    That famed Google quality.

    • Someone already mentioned uMatrix for blocking videos but it is essentially the white list you are asking for. It gives fine grained control of what should be allowed to load at what site.

      It is basically a matrix with data types (cookies, css, script, etc) as columns and the source url as rows (hence the name). Any row, column or cell can be allowed or blocked. The grid is then represented as very nice and understandable rules like this (they seem to be parsed from most general rule to least general rule):

    • by DeVilla ( 4563 )
      Often I'll open one (or more) youtube links in other tabs. I then have to go to each of them and stop them, then pick the one I want to watch first. I'd like this if I were a chrome user. I'd like it more if it would cripple the autoplay of the next random video once the current video finishes. Ok maybe not cripple it. Just don't make it the default. Let me turn it off and leave it off. Unless I've selected a playlist (and sometimes even if I have selected a playlist) I never want to skip to some ran
  • Blocking audio is nice, but I'd really like to see controls on videos. Although ... maybe not. If you've gone out of your way to make sure I can neither fast-forward your video nor even see how long it is, you've pretty much told me it's a waste of my time.

  • Wait, so YouTube, owned by Google, is defaulted to auto-play. Chrome, also owned by Google, is defaulted to block auto-play. Is it not incredibly obvious that Google is conflicted as to whether it should exploit users via auto-play, or cater to their needs by blocking said auto-play?

    This is what happens when companies get too big. There are a thousand tentacles, none of which know what the others are doing. They might as well be separate companies... so they really should be separate companies.

  • Google will elevate sites in search results if there is an associated video on the page. Once people twigged onto this, every site out there (especially news sites) started putting tangentially related videos at the top of their pages. These videos almost never match the actual content of the page in question. It's a big problem, but if you want your site to rank in Google, you have to play along (so to speak).

    So now everyone is going to cheer Google for making the web more friendly via Chrome...??

  • ...just a muted release party.
  • If you're on OSX, Safari has multiple ways to disable video autoplay. There is the easy way [apple.com], or the bullet proof method [macreports.com] which also stops autoplay from social media like Facebook. Never needed a blocker app.

I've got a bad feeling about this.

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