Chris Cox: Video on Facebook Was an Experiment That Worked

By David Cohen Comment


Facebook didn’t plan to “become a video juggernaut,” chief product officer Chris Cox told Erin Griffith of Fortune: It just worked out that way.

Griffith spoke with Cox as part of a detailed story on the advancement of video at Facebook in the magazine’s latest issue.

Cox told Griffith that Facebook engineers analyzing News Feed in late 2013 found that thumbnail images for videos on the social network were not compelling enough, and, more important, that videos took too long to load, bringing on what he called the “of course” moment: auto-play videos, with Cox saying, “News Feed clearly should be alive and move in your hands on smartphones.”

According to Cox, Facebook made auto-play videos silent until they were clicked on in order to avoid bombarding users with “a loud, distracting soundtrack.”

On the technical side, the social network’s engineers were able to cobble together a prototype in September 2013, handling the task of making pre-loaded videos accessible, particularly where Internet connections were poor.

Cox told Griffith the results were “completely rad,” singling out the success of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and noting that Facebook reached a milestone in April—4 billion video views per day, on par with YouTube.

Readers: How often do you view videos on Facebook?