The UK may require social networks to add warnings to autoplay videos

The Internet was left shaking yesterday after video showing a Virginia news crew being murdered on live television circulated on social media. What made matters even worse was that it started automatically playing on two major social networks without users’ consent resulting in anger.

British lawmakers want to change that.

Government officials are mulling a law requiring autoplay videos on websites, such as Facebook and Twitter, be embedded with a warning graphic before it plays, reports BBC News. They say that companies should be using “automatic and manual” techniques to identify controversial content.

“Social media, just like traditional media, should consider how shocking other content can be, and make sure consumers are warned appropriately,” Matt Warman, who heads up the Parliamentary Internet, Communications and Technology Forum, told the BBC.

He added: “For victims, friends and families it’s important to make sure that, in an online world without a watershed, users know what they’re about to see and have a reasonable opportunity to stop it.”

During the height of the video’s spread on Twitter yesterday, users were telling others how to turn off autoplay, which is hidden in the social network’s jungle of options. Warman blasted that saying that they “need to be aware that one size does not fit all.”

Digiday has reached out to Facebook and Twitter for comment, but we have not yet heard back.

Autoplay videos have become a staple on both social networks because of advertiser demands. But sifting through hours of content (Facebook garners 3 billion video views each day and growing) is a daunting task making this proposal seemingly implausible.

Paul Verna, an analyst at eMarketer told Digiday that it might not be possible to enact such a system.

“Our media is so rife with violent content, that it must be nearly impossible for filtering algorithms to distinguish between fictionalized violence and the real thing,” said Verna.

Photo via Shutterstock.

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