Why can I view some Facebook videos and not others? [ASK MR. NOOBIE]

QUESTION: Hello. I hope you can help me understand what is happening. I use an iPad most of the time. I prefer the web version of Facebook instead of the app. Since iPad doesn’t support FLASH, I normally have to go to the FB app to see videos people post. Last week one day I was able to see the videos in the web version of FB and was so excited. Then the next day it was back to not being able to see them. Then yesterday I was able to see them again and can still see today. Do you have any idea what changed and if this change will continue. I love not having to flip back and forth from web to app in order to view videos. I’ve tried to find any info about this online and haven’t found anything. Hope you can help. I’m the type person who likes to know the whys and details. Thanks. – Susan H. from Milledgeville, Georgia

Facebook app iPadANSWER” I used to be exactly like you, Susan. I hated the Facebook app on my iPad and used the web version in its place. I even went as far as to create a shortcut to the Facebook website on my iPad so I would trick myself into thinking I was still using an app.

But over time, the app kept getting more and more useful and I can honestly say the Facebook app is now better than the web version. So if you haven’t given the app a real run-through lately, I would encourage you to give it another shot.

As for the videos, I don’t have 100% of the information I need to answer your question but I’ll do my best. What I would have liked to have known was if a specific video played correctly in the web version but not in the app or vice versa.

It’s all about the encoding

Either way, it all comes down to something called encoding which is a process a video goes through when it is uploaded to Facebook such that the video is playable on both Facebook’s website and in the app.

As you already know, the iPad doesn’t (and never will) support Flash. The fact that some of the videos you encountered played correctly really has nothing to do with Flash suddenly working or not working. Like I said, it will never work. Rather, the video was encoded into a format that is playable on your iPad. The newer HTML5 format is an example of a format that allows videos to play just fine on your iPad.

So my answer to your question is that the reason a video does or doesn’t play on your iPad (regardless of whether you are using the web version or the app) is how the video is encoded.

Most of the videos I see on Facebook these days all play fine on my iPad. It’s been quite a while since I received the message telling me my iPad didn’t support the video format.

Want to unplug for a bit?

While I may not have answered your question about a specific video, I hope this explanation at least clears things up a bit. Thanks for writing!

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  1. Susan H.

    Thanks so much for answering my question. I find the FB app seems to not pick up as much in Newsfeed…maybe it is just my thinking. Anyway. Right after I sent this, FB released the FB videos for their 10 yr anniversary. These are the ones that show when you joined, top posts and photos. I’m thinking they had to make some change to allow videos to play. I could never watch videos on the web version and now I can. Seems the only thing that happened during the same time is the FB videos they put out. I’m going to say that caused the change. I’m just glad I can now see them without having to switch back and forth. Just hope it stays that way. Thanks for addressing my question. Had no idea you would pick mine to post. Have a great day.

    • Susan H.

      Oh…and I have a FB shortcut to web version on my iPad too…just like you did. :)

  2. Dorothy

    I always use the web version of FB with my iPad 2. I can see any YouTube video on FB but lots of the homemade videos are flash and I can’t see them unless I go to the desktop or laptop. Occasionally it will show me one that I didn’t expect to work. I never know why.

    One thing I’ve noticed lately is videos playing without sound on my newsfeed and that is without clicking the start button. I just scroll down and there is a video in action. As long as the sound is off it’s pretty cool. Can’t imagine them running automatically with sound.

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