For many, Facebook Live will not be a new thing. The application, built into Facebook itself has been available, mainly for celebrities, and allows users to post live feeds directly from the Facebook app of whatever they happen to be doing.
Celebrities and public figures from Democratic Presidential Nominee Hilary Clinton to comedian Kevin Hart have used Facebook Live or Live on Facebook as it is also known to showcase aspects of their daily lives users might not ordinarily see.
With video content becoming more and more accessible and sought after it makes sense for Facebook to join the party with Twitter-owned Vine enjoying a large part of the market while YouTube which is owned by Google has helped to usher in something of a media revolution and is certainly here to stay.
Live Video in the palm of your hands
Live on Facebook went through an extended beta testing, but is now available on both Facebook’s iOS and Android apps as well as via its own Mentions app. The Live app has been popular among public figures for organising live question and answer sessions such as a recent one with Steven Spielberg while on set at the new BFG film. The chance for public figures to be connected in such a direct and engaging way rather than posting content in a pre-edited format is clearly a positive step.
The engagement factor is something that Facebook have been keen to improve with new features rolled out with the full launch such as the ability to invite friends in order to share these live experiences with them. Another great feature is the ‘Live Map’ which allows users to zone in on Facebook Live events as they happen around the globe.
And, of course, Live on Facebook is no longer for those in the public eye as Facebook’s Chief Product Officer Chris Cox was keen to stress in his own Live Question and Answer session. Some of the examples he gave were for parents to be able to share live events in the growth of their children such as first steps or general funny moments as and when they happen. He even mentioned a friend of his who shares his live daily experience of feeding his fish. It might not seem so farfetched that live antics of ordinary people draw in a crowd a la Truman Show – after all Big Brother is still on TV despite the coerced game show that it has become.
A statement on Facebook’s blog page states that: “We’ve been humbled by all the amazing and creative ways that people have used Facebook Live so far, and we’re committed to creating the best experience for everyone who wants to create, watch and interact with live videos on Facebook.” With features like filters and the ability to add graphics to ‘live shows’ the platform has a potential to be both playful and serious and genuinely has the potential to breathe new life into Facebook.
When Live is not okay
While the vast majority of users will use Live features to capture these moments or hold Q&A sessions or perform live events for their audiences there are a number of potential pitfalls for allowing global access to a live streaming format.
First of all, how will Facebook ‘vet’ these live streams? Especially if the platform takes off and there are a number of channels live at any one moment. What if users break copyright and show a concert or a football match for example? Or if some form of tragedy were to happen, you can assume that somebody will attempt to steam it live.
These are questions that will need to be answered by Facebook, hopefully before they need to be addressed in real time. That said, Facebook Live is a great idea and is a great movement forward for how the world is broadcast.