Live video is officially where social media is going. It started with Twitter's acquisition of Periscope last year, which has grown to over 200 million broadcasts. Now Facebook has gone all in on the idea.
On Wednesday Facebook introduced a slew of new features to enhance its live video capabilities, turning itself into what can only be described as a live video hub.
Here's what's new:
Users can now broadcast live videos to Facebook Groups and Events. With Groups, they can broadcast just to the people in those groups; with Events, they can send videos while the event is happening, or schedule a live Q&A session.
Live Reactions, which let users show how they feel about a broadcast in real-time, using the same Reactions that the company launched in February. They disappear right away, but let the broadcaster know how their viewers feel about what they're seeing.
Live Filters, which will let users draw or doodle on your video while live. These are coming soon.
The ability to send an invitation to a friend to watch live video with you.
Facebook Live Map on desktop, so users can see what live videos are trending all around the world.
Most importantly, live video has made its way onto the Facebook homescreen: there is now a live video tab where the old Messenger tab used to be, dead center in the middle of the app. (Replacing the now defunct Messenger tab was inevitable, and I'm kind of glad they got rid of it. I was sick of being asked to download the separate app).
A TV channel for everyone!
So what does this all mean? Basically, that Facebook is turning itself into a television station, one where everyone can have a channel dedicated solely to themselves. Basically now everyone can be a Kardashian.
I remember when YouTube first made its way into our lives back in 2005. At first it seemed like a cool way for people to express themselves creatively, and to find clips of old TV shows I hadn't thought of for 15 years. And it was awesome!
It soon became apparent, though, that while those things still held true, we were also creating "celebrities" out of people with no talent. Remember Tay Zonday, aka the Chocolate Rain guy? What about Chris Crocker, who got famous for this "leave Britney alone!" rant? There are countless others who I have tried my best to forget. Everyone started getting their 15 minutes, whether they deserved them or not. That is the monster YouTube unleashed.
As terrible as some of those videos were, though. at least there was a performance aspect to them. The videos had to be shot and edited, and some amount of thought went into what was uploaded. Live video, on the other hand, is going to be YouTube on steroids. It's going to be these same people but completely unfiltered, saying whatever comes into their heads at that moment. This could get really ugly, really fast. But hey, at least it might be entertaining, in a trainwreck sort of way.
In a way, there is something egalitarian about this idea that everyone has the right to be seen and heard, but that same idea has led to the rise of reality TV and people like the Kardashians. Will we find that diamond in the rough? I'm sure we will. Don't forget that Justin Beiber was discovered on YouTube and he's gone on to become one of the biggest stars in the world. That's a one in a million story, though. You're much more likely to find the next Rebecca Black.
We are currently looking at the future of social media, and it is everyone having their own television show. If you thought that social media brought out our more narcissistic tendencies before, you ain't seen nothing yet!
(Image source: newsroom.fb.com)