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How Chrome learns when to autoplay video or block it

The newest version of Google's browser squelches autoplay on many websites but adapts to your own behavior.

Google Chrome lapel pin
Stephen Shankland/CNET

When Google released Chrome 66 in April, it clamped down on lots of websites that tried to play video and audio automatically. But the browser doesn't always block autoplay, and on Thursday, Google detailed how Chrome learns which sites to squelch.

Chrome begins with a list of more than a thousand sites where Google found that the browser's users typically played audio or video with sound. Then, as you browse the web, Chrome updates that list as it learns where you play media and where you don't.

"As you teach Chrome, you may find that you need to click 'play' every now and then, but overall the new policy blocks about half of unwanted autoplays, so you will have fewer surprises and less unwanted noise when you first arrive at a website," John Pallett, a Chrome product manager, said in a blog post.

The autoplay blocking is an example of how browsers are getting more assertive on behalf of users faced with pushy websites. The result is a web that should be less annoying -- but also one where advertising-funded sites have a harder time with their businesses.

There are several other examples of browsers stepping in on behalf of users. This year, Chrome also began blocking ads on some websites if Google judges the sites to be using too many. Last year, Apple's Safari started blocking most autoplay videos if they used sound. The Brave browser blocks all ads and web software that tracks your online behavior, and Firefox has made it easier to block trackers, too.

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