Tag Archives: Facebook Live

Facebook introduces ‘one strike’ policy to combat abuse of its live-streaming service

Facebook is cracking down on its live streaming service after it was used to broadcast the shocking mass shootings that left 50 dead at two Christchurch mosques in New Zealand in March. The social network said today that it is implementing a ‘one strike’ rule that will prevent users who break its rules from using the Facebook Live service.

“From now on, anyone who violates our most serious policies will be restricted from using Live for set periods of time — for example 30 days — starting on their first offense. For instance, someone who shares a link to a statement from a terrorist group with no context will now be immediately blocked from using Live for a set period of time,” Facebook VP of integrity Guy Rosen wrote.

The company said it plans to implement additional restrictions for these people, which will include limiting their ability to take out ads on the social network. Those who violate Facebook’s policy against “dangerous individuals and organizations” — a new introduction that it used to ban a number of right-wing figures earlier this month — will be restricted from using Live, although Facebook isn’t being specific on the duration of the bans or what it would take to trigger a permanent bar from live-streaming.

Facebook is increasingly using AI to detect and counter violent and dangerous content on its platform, but that approach simply isn’t working.

Beyond the challenge of non-English languages — Facebook’s AI detection system has failed in Myanmar, for example, despite what CEO Mark Zuckerberg had claimedthe detection system wasn’t robust in dealing with the aftermath of Christchurch.

The stream itself was not reported to Facebook until 12 minutes after it had ended, while Facebook failed to block 20 percent of the videos of the live stream that were later uploaded to its site. Indeed, TechCrunch found several videos still on Facebook more than 12 hours after the attack despite the social network’s efforts to cherry pick ‘vanity stats’ that appeared to show its AI and human teams had things under control.

Acknowledging that failure indirectly, Facebook said it will invest $7.5 million in “new research partnerships with leading academics from three universities, designed to improve image and video analysis technology.”

Early partners in this initiative include The University of Maryland, Cornell University and The University of California, Berkeley, which it said will assist with techniques to detect manipulated images, video and audio. Another objective is to use technology to identify the difference between those who deliberately manipulate media, and those who so “unwittingly.”

Facebook said it hopes to add other research partners to the initiative, which is also focused on combating deepfakes.

“Although we deployed a number of techniques to eventually find these variants, including video and audio matching technology, we realized that this is an area where we need to invest in further research,” Rosen conceded in the blog post.

Facebook’s announcement comes less than one day after a collection of world leaders, including New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, called on tech companies to sign a pledge to increase their efforts to combat toxic content.

According to people working for the French Economy Ministry, the Christchurch Call doesn’t contain any specific recommendations for new regulation. Rather, countries can decide what they mean by violent and extremist content.

“For now, it’s a focus on an event in particular that caused an issue for multiple countries,” French Digital Minister Cédric O said in a briefing with journalists.

Facebook allows videos with copyrighted music, tests Lip Sync Live

Facebook users will no longer have their uploaded videos with copyrighted background music taken down thanks to a slew of deals with all the major record labels plus many indies.

Facebook is also starting to test a feature designed to steal users from teen sensation app Musically.  Facebook’s new Lip Sync Live lets users pick a popular song to pretend to sing on a Facebook Live broadcast. Hundreds of songs will be available to start, including “Havana” by Camila Cabello, “Welcome to The Jungle” by Guns N Roses, and “God’s Plan” by Drake.

When users upload videos with music with the new rules in effect, they’ll be quickly notified if that song is allowed via the deals and fine to share, or if their video will be muted unless they submit a dispute to the copyright holder who then okays it through Facebook’s Rights Manager tool. Facebook will compensate artists and labels whose music is used, but it wouldn’t disclose the rates or whether they’re calculated by upload or video view.

The launch is separate from the Sound Collection feature Facebook announced in December that only lets users add sound effects or no-name music to their videos. Facebook won’t be offering a tool, at least not yet, that lets users select popular copyrighted music to add to their videos — a feature TechCrunch has been calling for and that was recently prototyped for Instagram.

That’s unfortunate, as most users don’t have the editing tools to add music before uploading a video, especially not from their phones. But at least if there’s a song playing on a stereo in the background, users won’t get their videos blocked like before. Luckily, Facebook says in the coming months it plans to “start testing options for adding the music you love to Facebook Stories.” That could use the same design as the Instagram feature we reported.

Instagram’s unlaunched music stickers prototype lets users add popular songs to their Stories.

Today’s announcement is a big step in right direction for Facebook as it seeks ways to encourage original sharing. A shaky, off-the-cuff video from a friend can be tough to watch in the feed, particularly if it’s longer than the 15 second clips people now add to their Stories. But with the right soundtrack, a boring clip becomes epic, or a nice one becomes truly sentimental. Music-equipped videos could boost watch time and engagement on Facebook without relying on viral pap the company has demoted in service of users’ mental well-being.

Facebook vs. Musical.ly

Facebook has had a tough time keeping teens on its social network, as evidenced by declines in popularity amongst the demographic according Pew’s survey data. Though teens trying to look cool might say they use Facebook less than they actually do, the responses reveal a downward trend for the app amongst the youth.

One app that’s had no problem recruiting them is lip syncing app Musical.ly . It’s rife with concerning, possibly Child Online Protection Act-violating videos of tween girls dancing to risqué pop songs. But the opportunity to perform without necessarily having singing talent and the easy to grasp content prompts have grown the app to 200 million registered and 60 million monthly active users.

Facebook wants to hook those kids as soon as they’re 13 so they become lucrative lifetime users. So Facebook is now testing Lip Sync Live in several markets. Users first go to broadcast Live, select the Lip Sync Live option, select a song, mouth the words while adding filters and effects during the stream, and then can permanently share the resulting video. The Live With feature for co-streaming with a friend lets people duet on their favorite jam. Viewers can tap on titling for the song and artist to follow that musician on Facebook, though I think there should be a way to tap through to hear the song on Spotify, Apple Music, or YouTube Music.

It’s going to be tough for Facebook to suddenly become cool enough for kids to enthusiastically lip sync, especially since it requires going Live which notifies their friends. That plea for attention could make some users too shy to strut their stuff on camera. Lip syncing might work better for static videos where people can be sure they looked good enough before sharing, or within Stories that friends have to actively go watch.

Music is one of the most core ways human share and connect. It’s actually surprising Facebook has stayed at arm’s-length from the record industry for so long.

iLike’s music streaming app was one of the most popular on v1 of Facebook’s platform, but the tech giant moved in a different direction. It also shut down landing tabs in 2012 that bands used to stream music from their Pages with apps like BandPage. And though Spotify got its big break in America through viral distribution in Facebook’s now defunct desktop sidebar ticker, Facebook never made a move to invest in or acquire the startup that’s since gone public.

At least, it’s good to see Facebook concentrating on the social side of music now that it has label deals in place rather than trying to build a Spotify competitor of its own. If it can legally build a way for anyone to add soundtracks to their videos, we might watch a lot more of them. Not only would that acclimate us to more video ads, but it could let friends express a different side of themselves with the emotional power of pop music.

Facebook lets all PC games Live stream and reward viewers

Facebook is challenging Twitch and YouTube for video game live streaming supremacy with the release of its new Games SDK for PC. After testing Live streaming from games like Overwatch from developers like Blizzard since 2016, today Live broadcasting from PC games to the News Feed opens to all developers. And Facebook will let them reward fans who watch by providing in-game items or bonuses. For example, beneath the comments reel, users might see a promotion like “Watch Paladins streams for a chance to earn random loot to use in-game.”

The potential for viral growth and sales could convince tons of game developers to bake in Facebook’s new SDK, while players could use the simple broadcasting feature to reach a big audience — though one not as dedicated to gaming as on other platforms. Viewers might choose to watch on Facebook because they get rewarded there. Facebook meanwhile benefits because game streams create compelling niche content that can drive long viewing sessions, helping Facebook monetize viewers in the moment with ads while locking them deeper into the platform long-term.

Facebook is also hooking up developers with deeper analytics through custom “app events” that are now available on PC as well as web and mobile. Game developers can also integrate Facebook’s enhanced Friend Finder feature that lets them play with friends and now see “Key Player Stats” about other people they want to join up with to keep playing together. Developers who want access to the SDK can sign up here.

Facebook got a late start in the game streaming world but has been rapidly developing features and signing deals to grow its viewer base and content catalogue. It inked a deal with esports league leader ESL last year, and just added streaming from tournaments of top games like Counter-Strike and DOTA. It’s brought Live streaming to Messenger games. Facebook also recently started testing a way for viewers to tip cash to their favorite streaming stars, and has even hired some of them for its games team.

The question will be if a catch-all mainstream social network can succeed in such a niche content space. 800 million people play Facebook-connected games each month. But not everyone’s real-world friends care about video games or want to watch their buddies play, so broadcasts could fall flat if they don’t find the particular subset who love gaming. On networks like Twitch or corners of YouTube, people are there specifically to watch game stream. So Facebook will have to use rapid feature development, and it’s size and potential for audience growth to attracts streamers, viewers, and developers. Otherwise gamers might stay where they never feel embarrassed about their passion.

Facebook pushes pre-roll ads on Watch as it stops subsidizing Live

 Everyone’s least favorite ads are coming to Facebook, but six second pre-rolls will only appear on original Watch tab videos you purposefully view and not in the News Feed. Facebook is embracing pre-rolls after years of shunning them as it tries to make pay outs to video creators sustainable. Facebook’s head of video Fidji Simo tells TechCrunch that it will not renew direct… Read More

Facebook adds support for live streaming and video chats to Messenger games

 Last November, Facebook launched Instant Games, a new platform for gaming with friends inside the Messenger chat app. Today, the company is announcing a couple of notable new features for this gaming platform, including support for live streaming via Facebook Live and video chatting with fellow gamers. The idea with Instant Games is to boost people’s time spent in Messenger by giving… Read More

Facebook boosts snubbed Stories Camera with Live, GIF & text sharing

 Despite the tepid reception for Facebook Stories, the social network is doubling down on its full-screen Camera feature. Today Facebook added the ability to go Live, shoot two-second GIFs and share full-screen text posts on colored background from Facebook Camera, which lets you share to Facebook Stories, Direct messaging and the traditional News Feed. Read More

Facebook tests ‘going live’ from Facebook Camera, Live Stories like Instagram

 Facebook is testing a new way to “go live” on its social network – an option that was previously available by pressing the “Live” button on the Status update box. Now, for some users, the ability to “go live” – meaning start a live video broadcast – is appearing right within the Facebook Camera screen, alongside other options, like the… Read More