If you analyze the brain activity of a Facebooker while they are Facebooking, the fMRI results look identical to a gamer. The advent of the video autoplay as a default setting in 2014 forever changed your world. Allow me to present you with the evidence.

Prior to autoplay, you had to make a conscious decision. Do I hit the play button? Yes or No? You were taught by Youtube to:

  • search
  • locate
  • play

Starting in 2014, Facebook took a different approach:

Videos just showed up in my news feed without my permission and started playing automatically. 

For three years I underwent a brain wash of sorts. So did you. Evidence in the form of billions of dollars verifies that autoplay has transformed my behavior and subsequent actions.

Gamers are human algorithms.

Gamers are forever in pursuit of the optimal solution. They desire to “level up”. They subconsciously eliminate all sub optimum paths to their desired outcomes through the process of making mistakes. A selfish motive of “leveling up” drives this pursuit of optimal selection. Humans are NOT as predictable as electricity. However, just as electricity ALWAYS chooses the path of least resistance, a human Facebooker will “play” Facebook in a way that gets them to their desired outcome, whatever that may be, with the least amount of friction (aka optimum).

Note: Unlike other gamers which typically can only “level up” by one standard, Facebookers have the luxury of multiple scoring systems. How you play Facebook can be quite different than how I play Facebook. 

Thousands of minutes of viewing time given freely to content creators that otherwise would have gone unnoticed.

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The autoplay default setting saves you from yourself. It makes that gigantic decision for you. Do I hit the play button? Yes or No? The elimination of the play button gave thousands of videos thousands of minutes of viewing time to thousands of Facebookers. The autoplay did this by eliminating the decision tree:

Do I hit the play button? Yes or No?

This small change to a default setting changed the world. It has profound consequences that you live with every day rather you understand those consequences or not. Rather you agree or disagree with this change to your default settings is irrelevant. This small change gave birth to a new behavioral standard that makes a difference in your ability to engage with Facebookers. Asking an optimizing Facebooker to click on your Youtube link is analogous to asking me to fax you my print out.

You are an optimizing gamer (aka Facebooker) that is driven by a desire to level up.

Given the choice:

  1. TWO CLICK OPTION: click on a Youtube link, leave Facebook and hit play
  2. ZERO CLICK OPTION: watch the video

You will simply watch the video on Facebook! This option helps you “level up” with less energy and greater comfort. Hence, the autoplay has forever changed your world.

Written by John Rector

John Rector is the President at Social Media Target, LLC. He is the co-founder of E2OPEN. His original works (videos, images and blog posts) are seen by millions of social media users daily. At IBM, he implemented Supply Chain Management (SCM) solutions at the top 50 electronics companies in Asia, The Americas and Europe. He is the winner of six Golden Circles.

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