Facebook waves goodbye to Flash Video

Martin Brinkmann
Dec 21, 2015
Updated • Jan 4, 2018
Companies, Facebook

Facebook announced on December 18, 2015 that it made the decision to switch from a Flash-based video player on Facebook to a HTML5-based media player.

The company will use its HTML5 video player "for all Facebook web video surfaces" including videos on news feeds, pages, and in the Facebook embedded video player. Videos embedded directly from other sites, such as YouTube, use the HTML5 video player by default as well on Facebook.

The change won't affect games on the social media website however which means that Facebook users may still require the Flash Player if they play games on the site.

Facebook engineer Daniel Baulig lists three core benefits of the change to HTML5: development velocity, testability and accessibility.

Facebook HTML5 video benefits

HTML5 video allows Facebook to speed up the development process, not only because there is no need to recompile code, but also as it enables the company to make use of web tools such as jest or WebDriver.

facebook flash video

Another benefit of HTML5 video over Flash video is accessibility. Flash is only available for a limited number of platforms, and HTML5 enables Facebook to build a player that is "fully accessible to screen readers and keyboard input", and to leverage accessibility tools on top of that.

Facebook had to overcome challenges on its way to push the HTML5 video player out in the open on the site according to Beurig.

The company needed to get the logging right, to understand how people use the player and how it performs. In addition, it is being used to share data, for instance the view count.

Other challenges included was to take care of browser bugs in regards to HTML5 videos, performance issues in older browsers, and page load time regression.

Facebook noticed metric and user experience improvements already after launching the HTML5 video player. Beurig notes that videos start playing faster on Facebook, that users are reporting fewer bugs, and that interaction with videos has increased as well.

The company is just one of many which switched to HTML5 video already or plans to do so in the near future. It is likely that the switch is accelerated further in 2016 when more and more companies start to migrate away from Flash video to HTML5 video.

Now You: Do you still run Flash?

Facebook waves goodbye to Flash Video
Article Name
Facebook waves goodbye to Flash Video
Facebook announced a couple of days ago that it switched from the previously used Adobe Flash video player to HTML5 video on the site.

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  1. C= 64 said on December 23, 2015 at 5:07 pm

    I have not had flash installed on a pc in 6 + months, i contacted a few sites i visit regularly and asked them to stop using flash for videos nad in some other functionality the websites used flash and to my surprise they have (most not all).

  2. Nebulus said on December 22, 2015 at 9:39 am

    Hmm… I wonder, wouldn’t this move make video autorun harder to prevent on Facebook?

    1. LimboSlam said on December 23, 2015 at 11:22 am

      No, not for Pale Moon and Firefox users who have media.autoplay.enabled.

      **NOTE:** This functionality has improved in Pale Moon v26.0b4, set media.autoplay.allowscripted to false.

  3. TSJNachos said on December 22, 2015 at 3:11 am

    Another advantage to HTML5 is the fact that you can generally watch HTML5 videos using the TOR Browser Bundle. This is great news, as it allows you to access these videos privately and anonymously. Also, getting rid of one annoying piece of non-free/libre software. Of course, that doesn’t mean I’ll be on Facebook anytime soon, as Facebook is still an unjust surveillance engine.

  4. Tom Hawack said on December 21, 2015 at 9:03 pm

    Considering the number of “Facebookers” and the vulnerability of Adobe’s Flash, this is great news.
    I’ve removed Flash system-wide last August. Some sites, among which at least one I really care for, still require Flash for their videos, which is of course a counter-progress stubbornness. I believe such sites wait for all browsers to no longer support Flash to follow once forced to.

    1. Decent60 said on December 22, 2015 at 5:01 am

      Easier solution Tom, use Chrome for sites that require flash. Since Chrome has their own Flash plugin, it’s a bit more secure than the standard one provided by Adobe.
      Use it when you need to and close it when you don’t, tho that might not be as productive as you like, it does simplify things tho.

  5. Lord_Blizzard said on December 21, 2015 at 6:55 pm

    How Facebook is stealing millions of views: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t7tA3NNKF0Q

  6. Tomaku said on December 21, 2015 at 6:44 pm

    I really really and really wish that Spotify will follow Facebook. Spotify is still stuck with Flash Player. :\

  7. R Warder said on December 21, 2015 at 6:34 pm

    This is great. Now there is no major need for Flash in a browser. HTML5 is more secure and faster.

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