By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
How to prevent Facebook from draining your data plan
Placeholder Image

Videos might be great to watch on Facebook, but they could chew up your data plan. By default, every video will automatically play as you scroll through your feed.

This isn’t new. But what has changed is how Facebook processes those videos.

“They’ve changed their algorithm so videos show up a lot more frequently,” said Alex Lawrence, a Weber State University tech correspondent.

Lawrence said Facebook wants those videos to play automatically because they’re money makers.

“If you’re seeing parts of the videos, that shows their video advertisers metrics that they’re looking for to pay for more video promotion,” he explained.

The problem for smartphone users: those videos use a lot of data. So much so that it could easily push users over a monthly data limit, if their carrier has one.

The good news is, Facebook’s auto play feature can easily be turned off.

“Go into settings, find the Facebook app, and change the auto play to ‘off’ or to ‘play on Wi-Fi only,’ “ he said.

It’s probably not the only setting chewing up data -- music can do it too. Users might want to limit how much streaming music they get through apps like Pandora or Spotify.

Some apps allow users to download songs onto their phone through their home’s Wi-Fi so they don’t have to stream them later.

“Some settings say, ‘This is only available offline.’ If it’s only available offline, that means it won’t go online to get it,” Lawrence said.

He said think about lightweight browsers, such as Opera Mini. They’ll compress a website into a fraction of its size before sending it to a phone.

“You’re looking at the same stuff, but the amount of data that it’s using to grab from the Internet is smaller than other browsers,” he said.

For those who worry about going over their monthly allowance, another strategy is to shop around for a plan with unlimited data.

“There are a few carriers that are actually offering legitimate unlimited, unfiltered, unthrottled data for a reasonable price. I think you’re going to see that get more and more competitive,” he said.