Chrome 66 blocks autoplay videos with sound by default

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It’s 2018 and there are still many websites that believe in forcing users to watch autoplay videos. That’s right, we’re looking at you CNN and Fox News.

Chrome 66 which recently went live, addresses this major problem by automatically blocking autoplay videos that have sound enabled. This comes in handy if you’re browsing news site (among others) that has video players that suddenly pop up with unexpected audio.

The browser however may choose to bypass this measure if it determines you consume a lot of content from a particular website (e.g. YouTube may be white-listed if you watch a lot of videos from that domain).

The decision to block autoplay videos is based on the following criteria.

  • Muted autoplay is always allowed.
  • Autoplay with sound is allowed if:
    • User has interacted with the domain (click, tap, etc.).
    • On desktop, the user’s Media Engagement Index (MEI) threshold has been crossed, meaning the user has previously play video with sound.
    • On mobile, the user has added the site to his or her home screen.
  • Top frames can delegate autoplay permission to their iframes to allow autoplay with sound.

It calculates a system local personal MEI score depending on your viewing habits, based on the following criteria.

  • Consumption of the media (audio/video) must be greater than 7 seconds.
  • Audio must be present and unmuted.
  • Tab with video is active.
  • Size of the video (in px) must be greater than 200×140.

You can check your MEI score by pasting and navigating to chrome://media-engagement

In almost all cases, the autoplay blocking feature should work as advertised, but video-based websites like YouTube may end up being quickly white-listed given that we actually go there with the intention of watching videos.

For sites that somehow make it past the block, there is always the option to permanently mute them by domain.

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