Earlier this week another bomb was dropped on the aging Flash platform when Mozilla announced that playback of Flash video is now disabled by default in the Firefox browser due to (yet another) security vulnerability. Google quickly followed suit by blocking Flash by default in Chrome and others, including Facebook, have joined the conversation to plea for the demise of Flash once and for all. While I’m tempted to poke fun at Flash with an image like this one…

…the reality is that this represents a very serious problem for many businesses that are relying on video content to connect with customers on their website. Why the concern? Because some Online Video Platforms that are used to stream video content are dependent on Flash for playback, and if a potential buyer visits your website and sees something like this…

Flash Video

…or a security warning that the website is attempting to run an insecure application. It’s not just a nuisance, it’s a horrible brand experience and quite possibly a lost opportunity.

Is Your Brand at Risk?

If you’re hosting your video content using YouTube or Vidyard, you’re safe, as both platforms make an intelligent decision based on the browser, leveraging Flash or HTML5, to best display the content for that browser. Proceed to cheer, rejoice, and join the Flash bashing! If, on the other hand, you’re using a different Online Video Platform or a custom video player you may be at risk of having online audiences unable to access your videos. Even platforms like Brightcove often rely on Flash for video playback.

To verify if your brand is at risk of blocked video content, the first step is to review the source code for your web pages to look for “.swf”. Additionally you may want to test various pages with video content using the Firefox and Chrome browsers (which represent approximately 60% of all browser users) to verify the actual user experience. The exact end-user experience depends on the version of the viewer’s browser, their privacy settings, and the version of Flash they have installed, but you’ll want to run some quick tests of your own and be on the lookout for videos and thumbnails that don’t load properly as well as security alerts forcing you to allow, or upgrade, Flash.

Oh No, I’ve Got a Flash-Based Video Player, What Do I Do?!?

Don’t panic. Rally your smart web people and talk to them about this issue to better understand what it means and what the likely experience is for end-users. Now panic, but just a bit. Whether you do it today or tomorrow, you need a plan to get onto an HTML5 video player ASAP to better service your users today and protect yourself in the future.

Where Can I Learn More About #FlashGate

Okay, we made up that hashtag, but below are a few recent articles that shed some light on the issue or simply search online for “firefox chrome blocks flash”:

Tyler Lessard