Commentary

YouTube Adds Live Mobile Capacity

Can you be live and late at the same time? YouTube on Thursday announced that soon, users will be able to shoot live videos via YouTube’s mobile app, joining (in rough order) Meerkat, Periscope and Facebook that did it first.

Live streaming on YouTube has tripled this year but it hadn’t been possible to do it via mobile phones until now.  Earlier this year, 21 million fans watched a live stream from the Coachella festival.

The idea of ordinary citizens shooting live video often puts a strong underline on the word ordinary. And already, it’s also had tragic applications. In April, an 18-year old Ohio woman allegedly used Periscope to shoot live video of her friend being raped.

Society now lives without much comment about those kind of social media horror stories that include lesser travesties, like kids bullying handicapped students, bloody fist fights and general ugliness. When they’ve appeared on YouTube, they’re there for a while before they’re taken down. The same, in a way, is true for live versions of bad things we’re very likely to see happen with increasing frequency as live video gets more common. 

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Facebook has a team that acts when users flag live video as inappropriate. But that means the ugliness is already in progress. Twitter’s Periscope also has safeguards but nothing that stops that glop of vile video from loading.

But let’s not forget the huge plus side of live video, a sterling example of which occurred earlier this week when House Republicans turned off C-Span’s cameras so viewers could not observe the Democratic sit-in staged to force action on gun control legislation.

The Democrats used Periscope and Facebook Live to keep the cameras on their protests, and C-Span picked that up.

That, so far, has been America’s version of Arab Spring, but with the Republican convention coming up in three weeks--and turmoil so likely it’s already begun being joked about--Facebook, Periscope and now YouTube will become live eyewitnesses. That changes the event, for sure.

Open government advocates often quote Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis who famously said “Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.” But sunlight also creates intense heat, which live, unfiltered video can create.

YouTube’s announcement was far more playful aiming its comments about YouTube’s live capabilities toward its popular creators who can use it to communicate with fans.

Its live capabilities aren’t widely available yet, but will be soon. For now, it’s launching a few well known YouTube franchises including The Young Turks, Platica Polinesia and Alex Wassabi at VidCon.

The blog says,“YouTube mobile live streaming will be baked right into the core YouTube mobile app. You won’t need to open anything else, just hit the big red capture button right there in the corner, take or select a photo to use as a thumbnail, and you can broadcast live to your fans and chat in near real time.”


pj@mediapost.com

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