Facebook moves to punish Live videos that aren't actually live
- Facebook is updating the policy for its Live API platform to lower the visibility of posts that stretch the boundaries of what constitutes a live video, according to a report in TechCrunch.
- Static, animated or looping images, along with polls on otherwise static or ambient backgrounds, will be pushed down for visibility, the company said. Publishers which repeatedly break with these guidelines might have their access to Live blocked.
- Facebook banned image-only Live videos that used Likes and Reactions as voting tools in December. Posts that don't actually utilize Live as a tool for live news or other content suited to in-the-moment broadcasting might devalue the format and lessen user interest overall, TechCrunch noted. Several of the most popular Live videos from last year, previously reported on by TechCrunch, could be construed as violating the new policy.
Facebook continues to tweak Live, as the format — a hit with users — has become a headache for publishers and marketers to figure out. That some of the most popular Live broadcasts last year weren't really live video at all, and that the phenomenon of posting static images or polls to rack up engagement is common enough to institute a policy change, speaks to the difficulties both Facebook and pages have faced in getting authentic content in front of eyeballs.
For Facebook, Live has been a critical part of its shift toward focusing on video as ad load slows and digital display real estate dries up. Actually monetizing that video content, however, is a work-in-progress, and the social giant now seems to be hedging its bets with Ad Breaks — essentially a mid-roll video format — to sustain revenue growth. Both Facebook and publishers have also appeared to adjust course to focus more on premium, TV-like offerings over live streaming, though some Live contracts have been renewed.
In the past, publishers have said breaking news broadcasts via Live tend to perform well, but that pre-planned, pre-produced material does poorly and can prove unduly expensive. Live has also frequently been embroiled in controversy, as a number of videos depicting killings, suicides and torture have surfaced and sometimes not been removed by Facebook for up to several hours. The frequency and extreme nature of these situations has led some to question whether Live can be a safe environment for brands.
Facebook recently hired 3,000 staffers to address its violent content problem and is also working on an AI solution to track down inappropriate videos faster.
Follow Peter Adams on Twitter