Commentary

The Human Cost Of Mobile Video

Without jumping to conclusions -- or rushing to blame -- it’s important that we as an industry consider the role that mobile is playing in our nation’s present affairs.

Take the shootings in Falcon Heights, Minn. and Baton Rouge, La., this week. Without the ubiquity of sophisticated smartphones or the personal broadcasting channels that social networks have become, we would have never known about them.

Without video footage of these horrific events -- combined with platforms that facilitate their rapid sharing -- they surely would not have had the same societal impact.

Of course, it would be an immense oversimplification to say that this new communication paradigm led directly to the deaths of five Dallas police officers last night.

But mobile played a part -- and the challenge now facing phone makers, content creators, marketers, and platforms is to figure out what that is, and to what degree they’re responsible for such unwanted byproducts of the mobile revolution.

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As it stands, the men and women shaping our mobile ecosystem seem to be at a loss.

After a Minnesota woman live streamed the aftermath of her fiancé’s murder on Facebook this week, Mark Zuckerberg blogged: “While I hope we never have to see another video like [hers], 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.”

While not quite as cavalier as a shrug emoji, Zuckerberg’s response was no more insightful.

It’s clear that while Facebook is betting its future on live video, it’s totally unprepared for the inevitable flood of inappropriate, offensive, and incendiary footage that we’re already witnessing.

Equally oblivious, Twitter thought the launch of its Wimbledon live-video stream was going to dominate headlines this week.

For the business-minded, mobile video is indeed a goldmine. Worldwide, revenue from mobile video will reach $25 billion by 2021, according to a recent Strategy Analytics report.

For all that opportunity, however, we have to recognize that there are risks and responsibilities of equal proportion.

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