For years, Facebook and YouTube have had a policy of taking down videos that are disturbing or violent. Things are different these days. Before either of these platforms realise something needs to be taken down, millions have streamed a live video and millions more have seen it.
Diamond Reynolds’ 10-minute Facebook on live stream on Thursday showed the world her boyfriend Philando Castile covered in blood on the driver’s seat of a car while a police officer pointed a gun into the vehicle and subsequent events as they unfolded.
By the time it had made it to the Facebook Newswire page, Castile was dead and a few million people had already seen and shared the shocking video. This is something the world should see; but what if the Islamic State used Facebook Live or YouTube to broadcast a terror attack or something even more brutal of which they are perfectly capable?
As if to preempt this debate, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a post: “While I hope we never have to see another video like Diamond’s, it reminds us why coming together to build a more open and connected world is so important — and how far we still have to go.” Today, the worst moments of the violent standoff in Dallas between the police and protesters in which six officers were killed, was up for the world to watch on Facebook Live again.
Videos in general and video streaming in particular have considerable potential and they are already disrupting at least a handful of industries but it is a medium where the unchecked will become the norm. That could put it in a tricky situation with many countries and governments.
Other issues could crop up too: this week Twitter tried its first live stream, that of a Wimbledon match, a testament to how technology can challenge established models, especially television channels. We already have multiple streams to choose from when it comes to big events like political rallies and concerts but what happens if someone walks into an IPL match with the intention of streaming the whole game? All that’s needed is a smartphone with a data connection.
We are just looking up the hill that is called video streaming. According to Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report for 2016, about 20 million live stories are viewed on Snapchat every day.
Facebook is even bigger. Candace Payne showed the world the real power of this new medium when her Chewbacca Mask Facebook Live garnered over 150 million views in a few hours. It helps that Facebook gives priority to these Live feeds. But how will you react if you end up watching a murder on your phone, LIVE?