Your Facebook Messenger may soon get autoplaying video ads

Come on, Facebook.

Marrian Zhou Staff Reporter
Marrian Zhou is a Beijing-born Californian living in New York City. She joined CNET as a staff reporter upon graduation from Columbia Journalism School. When Marrian is not reporting, she is probably binge watching, playing saxophone or eating hot pot.
Marrian Zhou
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The autoplaying video ads will appear in the "sponsored" section.


Facebook Messenger ads just got more invasive.

The company confirmed on Tuesday that it has started placing autoplaying video ads in the Messenger chat app. The news was first reported by Quartz. They're meant to catch your eyes when you scroll through the messages.

Facebook rolled out ads on Messenger last July. The integration reportedly uses the same user-targeting strategies found on Facebook and Instagram.

Only a small group of users will see the ads at first, according to a Facebook spokeswoman. Autoplaying videos have long been a selling point for the social media platform in the advertising market. It seems now they've recognized the potential of Messenger users.

"Across eight markets surveyed globally, 80 percent of adults message daily," Facebook said in a blog post that offers audience insights to businesses. "Messenger and WhatsApp are the most widely used messaging apps worldwide in terms of monthly active user."

The addition of autoplaying video ads is another reminder that Facebook's users aren't the customers -- they're the product. It's a theme that cropped up again and again when CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress in April. The Cambridge Analytica data scandal put renewed scrutiny over how Facebook uses our data to craft targeted ads.  

Facebook said last week that it will regulate targeted advertising on its social platform starting July 2 and users will be able to choose to stop seeing certain ads -- a decision prompted by the grilling Zuckerberg received over its business practices.

The same features will apply to Messenger ads. You can click on "Why am I seeing this Ad" and manage your ad preference. Though you can't get rid of the ads altogether.

"We will be rolling out video ads gradually and thoughtfully," a Facebook spokeswoman said in an emailed statement. "People that use Messenger each month are our top priority and they will remain in control of their experience."

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