Facebook has recently changed its video behavior. When you click on a playing video, the video is taken to fullscreen.

On the fullscreen mode related videos are also shown so, I think the intention behind this behavior change is to increase the number of videos played in facebook.

But, this breaks the usability heuristics of Consistency and standards. The Expected/standard behavior is video should pause. This behavior is only for the facebook video player, rest of players(youtube,vimeo) which is inside the feed follow the standard behavior. Now the user has to keep in mind of the 2 different behaviors!

Did Facebook intentionally do this?

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    No, nothing should go full screen without the user's consent. Yes, Facebook likely intentionally did that. – DA01 Dec 18 '15 at 21:02
  • I hate it!!!! That's why I'm here... looking for some reason to the madness! Please, some hacker, fix it for us! UX-hacks-for-cash.com? – Lance Dec 20 '17 at 1:20
  • I want to throw my laptop in the wall everytime I click a video to stop it, and it maximises instead. So I would agree that something is wrong with the Facebook implementation :-) – Henrik Ekblom May 23 '18 at 9:37
  • I think it should, for mobile. As long as it is easy to go back. And yes, in the name of consistency, clicking on the maximized video should minimize it back. Unless you are clicking on a control (play, pause, etc.) For desktops, it would be a bit annoying, I agree. Usually clicking brings up the controls, so it does introduce problems and puzzles. However like I said, if you're on mobile, where everything is so small, it makes sense to click on the video thumbnail and then you can watch it "full screen" on your small screen. – Rolf Nov 2 '18 at 12:15
  • Also it should not be auto-played minimized. So the only situation where this makes sense is on mobile where the video would be too small to watch, so the only thing a user would want to do is tap on it so that it can be maximized and watched (so it always play AFTER being maximized - the whole point is that it's too small to be played minimized). Also this would make it more consistent with the behavior for photos, which is a good thing. – Rolf Nov 2 '18 at 12:23

It's the inconsistency that bothers me. Click on video maximizes, then the behaviour changes so that click on video pauses/resumes. Forcing users to learn two different behaviours to achieve a similar mechanic is adding a step of complexity (and forcing them to manually use another UI control to minimize = added time and motion to complete a task) you don't have to. That's the wrong part here.

  • I totally agree with you – Anenth Aug 6 '16 at 4:50

Facebook UX staff are the only people who could answer this question with any kind of certainty. The rest of us can only express best guesses and opinions.

This would have to be a conscious choice on the part of the developer - I don't think it's possible to do this accidentally.

If I was employed by Facebook to look at video interactions I would probably want to see the data of what users are most trying to achieve when they click other than using Play/Pause. If most of them are using these additional clicks to take the video fullscreen then I would seriously consider making that easier to accomplish and that solution may well involve clicking the main area of the video outside the transport area.

I would also want to see that ways that users are playing and pausing the videos - I might find that most users employ their spacebar or some other keyboard shortcut to play and pause the videos.

In other words, my best guess is that Facebook did this in response to common user behaviours and the change was therefore intentional.

  • As far as I know, Facebook roles out such minor changes to a limited number of users (which in their case are still a lot of people) for a testing period and collects A/B data. If the OP is not one of the testees, i.e. the feature has gone live for everyone, let’s assume their analysis of that feedback has shown that the new behavior is beneficial for significantly more people than not. It’s not a proof it’s the better design in general, though. – Crissov Dec 16 '15 at 18:20
  • But bring a new behavior which is very different from other video player(eg. youtube) which can be played inside the facebook, will be annoying for the user right? User will have to keep in mind of 2 mental models, one for facebook video player and other for other video player. And if the user is used to facebook video play and then they uses youtube video player then they will expect the same behavior on youtube also right? – Anenth Dec 18 '15 at 1:41
  • Problem is, the player behaves differently when viewed on the wall compared to viewing videos on the post page. Post page videos retain the old behaviour. – bstst Dec 18 '15 at 15:16
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    @Anenth Yes, it'll annoy some users but things always evolve. Apple launched the first windows-based operating system in 1984 and within 10 years 99% of computers had a windows based GUI. Browsers initially had to go to a search page to do searches, then they had a dedicated search field and now most just allow searching within the URL field. If it makes sense, people will get used to it and move on. I haven't personally noticed this change on Facebook, but it actually makes sense. Most people know they can play/pause a video using the space bar, but many get confused about maximising them. – Monomeeth Feb 11 '16 at 21:47
  • God, I hate facebook for doing this.. I keep going to full screen mode when in fact I want to pause (read stop!) the video and scroll on... Instead I am taken to some semi-full screen mode - who on Earth decided that breaking one of the most established user interactions in software is a good idea.... – Petrunov Nov 23 '17 at 1:54

Following from their feature to autoplay videos, it seems they've moved their mobile functionality on to desktop as well, which is when you tap on a video, the video is brought to fullscreen, and the audio is turned on. In the case on desktop, additional functionality is added to not only display the video, but provide more content from the original poster.

It looks to me that this was done in two reasons I see right off the bat, 1) to make it easier for the user to jump right into watching the video, instead of having to fiddle around with the volume button, and go fullscreen if the window is too small, and 2) the opportunity to provide more content to the user if they found that video enjoyable, instead of having to go to the original poster's profile page and scrolling through all the videos, it's served directly to them. This also could be an attempt for advertisers to get their products in between videos when they are autoplaying, similar to Youtube, but my tests haven't shown any ads yet.

In assuring that users are aware of what the click behavior will do, they also added a short piece of text on hover that says "Click for more."

That is my evaluation, but I'm sure there is someone that has more research to backup their move.

  • this is not about the autoplay feature.( i have disabled it) – Anenth Dec 19 '15 at 1:58
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    If facebook wants the video to be played in fullscreen then why not make it fullscreen when the video starts playing? i guess that a better ux – Anenth Dec 19 '15 at 1:59

Usability suffers,

If by mistake you click on a facebook video, can you go back from full screen mode by clicking again ? No you can't, clicking again now works for Pausing/Restarting which is completely inconsistent. So you now have two different behaviours dependent on which kind of view you are (normal vs fullscreen).

It is utterly annoying. When you want to pause a video, the contrary action that you want to execute, is to view it maximized. It is frustrating.

  • they must be some morons employed at fb ux team or this is some greedy tactic to lure users into watching more videos.. or both – Petrunov Nov 23 '17 at 1:55

I think we need to give this a fair chance. Interaction patterns evolve over a period of time. There is no steadfast rule that clicking a video should make it play / pause as opposed to making it go full screen. It's just what we are used to so far. As long as the user indicates an intent to play the video, Facebook can make a choice as to how they want their video experience to be. Also important that they make sure users have control and freedom to close out of this video experience.

What if this is genuinely a better way to view videos or at the very least an equally good experience? For example, the mouse scrolls in a mac vs a PC are different solutions to the same problems and they are both equally competent ways to solve the problem.

The current established standard that you are referring to has just been around for longer. You can't really tell whether this experience is good or bad unless you give it a fair chance and allow people to look at it beyond the point where they just consider the friction – simply because it's new.

One thing I do agree with is the confusion that arises with 2 conflicting ways of interacting with the same kind of media. I think the end goal is to have all video content shared on FB playing on FB's video player. Since they can't make that change abruptly, they are easing people into the new video player, allowing the two experiences to co-exist, before they shift everything out to Fb's player.

  • WRONG pausing on click must be consistent the whole universe, stupid facebook won't change my interaction expectation when all other software works this way – Petrunov Nov 23 '17 at 1:56

I think this actually makes perfect sense for Facebook.

Facebook uses auto-play by default. As the video scrolls into view, it starts playing. When it scrolls out of view it stops.

If you actively interact with the video, you're almost certainly wanting to enhance the video experience (most screen, sound, and recommended videos). If you don't want the video, you keep scrolling and it goes away.

This is opposed to someplace like Youtube where you've navigated with the purpose of watching a video. Youtube users are far more likely [assumption] to actively pause a video (I want to watch this, but life is getting in the way). A quick, easy way to pause is far more useful in this context.

  • makes no sense at all - while scrolling I decide I want to check one of the many videos I scroll past - click on it but then I see it's not worth watching and want to pause it(read stop it) and keep scrolling - instead I am now taking to a crazy semi-full screen mode.. not only is this super inconsistent with how I've been watching videos my entire life - now I need to perform two more actions, to be able to keep scrolling (click back and stop the video), it's utter nonsense – Petrunov Nov 23 '17 at 2:00

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