Facebook has launched free automatic subtitling for page videos using the English language in the U.S. The service was first revealed in February 2016, and it provides auto-subtitles for video ads when audio is not an option.

Facebook auto subtitling

How accurate is Facebook’s subtitling?

Being powered by voice recognition software means that it takes the hassle out of manual transcription. However, seeing as it is done completely by computers, there will inevitably be some mistakes. Fortunately, Facebook made the subtitles easy to edit, and when corrected, the tool is expected to learn from those corrections.

In fact, the social network has admitted that it sees this kind of tool and video as the future. It has even gone as far as predicting that by 2021, video will make up 70% of its traffic.

Video with the sound off

In 2013 when Facebook rolled out subtitling for video ads, it predicted that the move would force video makers to create content which made sense with no audio. Now thanks to the likes of YouTube, which hasn’t embraced audio-off video, Facebook sees the potential to grow and even possibly increase the amount of user-uploaded videos.

Helping Pages and users

Apart from the fact that more videos mean more video revenue for the network, it also wants to help page administrators adapt to this new silent video format. Additionally, it seeks to solve a problem for watchers of video content. For example, when a user doesn’t have headphones, listening to the audio can be quite awkward.

The intention of automatic subtitling is to give the watcher/listener an instant idea of what the content is about, which will enable he/she to decide whether to continue watching or not.

Using the new feature

Now that advertisers are not the sole beneficiaries of auto-captioning professionals, and non-professionals can take advantage of this video tool, doing so is easy, as when uploaded, a “generate” button appears in the video editor. However, it can also be above the clip feed, and when pressed, it auto-generates subtitles.

When generated, the subtitle captions get broken down so that they can be viewed and manually edited alongside the video. This is great for page admins, as now they can pass on their message without audio and provide quality content.

Facebook seeks more revenue

Auto-subtitling could attract more non-advertising users who want to get their message across to Facebook’s massive user base. With this tool, the social network and Instagram are actively trying to lure them away from YouTube and Snapchat. However, its ultimate goal with this new feature is to generate more space for advertising, which means it can increase its revenues from the potentially huge number of new videos created.

So ultimately, this seems to be about Facebook’s bottom line and not about what is good for the user.