What's up with Facebook's auto-playing feature for videos on our News Feeds?

Besides eating up more data (even if just slightly) because videos are set to play by default on Facebook's app, it looks like that feature could also be the reason for unusual battery loss on iPhones.

After numerous reports from Facebook users complaining about massive hits on their battery from the Facebook app, the social media company has taken notice and released a statement.

"We have heard reports of some people experiencing battery issues with our iOS app. We're looking into this and hope to have a fix in place soon," a Facebook spokesperson commented online.

Firsthand reports and screenshots from agitated users show that the Facebook app accounts for at least 15 percent and as much as 39 percent of battery drain over a period of one week. Matt Galligan, co-founder of Circa, blogged that even though he disabled the app from refreshing in the background, the app doesn't "sleep" properly after pressing the home button so it continues to suck up battery life. By comparison, "even the resource hog Safari drained 3 percent less over the last week despite being on the screen for half an hour more," he further points out.

In its statement, Facebook doesn't reveal the cause of the battery-draining bug in its app, but many users online have hypothesized two major theories. The first, by Nick Heer, goes as far as to say that Facebook knowingly taking advantage of user's resources is "hostile." "Facebook is actively creating channels to continue refreshing their app in the background when the user has explicitly stated that they do not want it to," he says.

The second assertion spreading online puts the blame on the way Facebook is running auto-play videos on users' News Feeds. Another tech journalist online, Federico Viticci, asserts that the app needs the extra juice because it plays silent audio when users scroll past videos. Since most users leave the default auto-play feature on, Facebook could be keeping a muted audio track on as well.

Users can try it out for themselves and see if their batteries fare any better with the auto-play feature off. To do so, users can change Facebook's background usage settings on their iPhones by going to Settings > Facebook > Settings > Background App Refresh.

Photo: Bhupinder Nayyar | Flickr

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