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Tuesday Tip: 3 Ways to Limit Facebook Data Usage

Cell phone with Facebook on the screen and rolling images of a play button, settings icon, and wifi icon

Overage charges. Like parking tickets and Sean Hannity, they’re one of those annoyances in life that we try to avoid. One way you can avoid overage charges on your bill is to limit data usage by apps like Facebook, which is one of the hungriest apps on your phone.

Normal use of the Facebook app—browsing your News Feed and looking at photos—consumes about 1.5MB per minute. Watching videos on Facebook uses around 2.6MB per minute. Spend 45 minutes a day on the Facebook app and it’ll cost you over 2GB of data in a month, which does not include the data the app drains while it runs in the background.

Here’s how to see exactly how much data the Facebook app is using on your phone. On your Android device, open Settings and select Data usage. You’ll see a graph that shows your monthly data usage and, below the graph, data usage by Facebook and other apps. On your iPhone or iPad, open Settings and select Cellular. Scroll down to view your data usage and scroll down a bit more to see data usage by Facebook and other apps.

If you’d like to limit the data your Facebook app uses, here are three steps you can take.


1. Stop videos from playing automatically in your News Feed

You can adjust your Facebook app’s autoplay settings to On, WiFi only or Off. If you choose WiFi only or Off, you’ll use less data.

To adjust the autoplay settings on your Android device:

  1. Open your Facebook app 
  2. Tap the menu icon
  3. Scroll down and tap App settings 
  4. Tap Autoplay  
  5. Choose the option you prefer.

(If you don’t see the Autoplay setting on your Android device, log out of the Facebook app. When you log back in, Autoplay should be visible in App settings.)

To adjust the autoplay settings on your Apple device:

  1. Open your Facebook app
  2. Tap the menu icon
  3. Scroll down and tap Settings
    1. (you may need to tap “Settings & Privacy to expand the menu first)
  4. Tap Videos and photos
    1. (If you don’t see Videos and photos in your iPhone or iPad’s Facebook app settings, try updating your Facebook app.)
  5. Tap Autoplay. Choose the option you prefer.

2. Use the Facebook Lite app

Facebook Lite is a slimmed-down app developed to provide a more data-efficient Facebook experience. It uses over 90% less space on your phone, as well as less RAM and less CPU. It also uses considerably less data than the full-fledged app—yet it offers almost all the same features. The primary difference is the simplified interface.

You can download Facebook Lite to your Android device from the Google Play Store. There is not yet a version for iPhone or iPad.

3. Use WiFi whenever possible

This advice applies to all the apps on your phone. Using WiFi instead of mobile data will, obviously, save you a lot of data. Just go to Settings, tap WiFi and turn it on.


7 Comments on “Tuesday Tip: 3 Ways to Limit Facebook Data Usage

  1. Great! Thanks! Can you also share tips for safely deleting Facebook pages and downloading your content to keep it from being used by Facebook or others?

  2. 3 questions
    #1-do I uninstall the regular facebook app after I install the facebook lite?
    #2-will this delete my settings so I have to re-enter them?
    #3- I could not find the app setting on my andriod (I did logout & login) and look for autoplay. Caan you send more info. about that? Perhaps with a photo?
    Thank you

  3. Here are three other possibilities for limiting Facebook data use:

    (1) Close Facebook and go read a book, preferably one printed on paper.

    (2) Shut down Facebook, get out of the house, and go talk to a friend, family member, or stranger.

    (3) Go out into Nature (e.g., take a walk, putter in the garden, wade in the ocean) without an electronic device on your person.

  4. In the Facebook settings on my iPhone, the only options under Video and Photo are to “Upload HD” in both. Am I supposed to disable those? It’s the latest FB version.

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