In case you missed it this past week - live-streaming social media video has changed the world.
While livestreamed events such as a watermelon being exploded with rubber bands or the "Chewbacca Mom" video have been Internet hits, it has been the graphic news of the past week that hints at the live-streaming’s powerful future potential.
The Facebook Live stream by Diamond Reynolds of the aftermath of the shooting of Philando Castile by a police officer in Minnesota was only the latest (and possibly most graphic) example of a livestream capturing and recording news as it happened.
The sniper attack in Dallas the next day led to numerous live video streams on Facebook Live and Twitter’s Periscope.
News coverage on traditional media during the Dallas shootings and over the following hours consisted almost entirely of live-streamed social media video.
If live-streaming needed it’s "coming of age" moment this was likely it.
What does it mean?
The live-streamed events of last week foreshadow "the biggest shift in media consumption we’ve seen since the introduction of television itself," writes Andrew Hutchinson, a writer and community manager at Social Media Today in a post called "The Evolution of Live-Streaming Could Change the Way You Consume Media - Here’s How"
"Just as online content democratized newspaper journalism, putting small time blogs on equal footing with centuries-old publications, live-streaming takes away one of traditional broadcasters’ most significant advantages, in the control of the broadcast of live events," he continues.
"Really, social media is moving beyond its personal networking roots – there’ll come a time soon when ‘social’ media is simply considered part of the media more widely.”
But, the possibility of injury and death being live-streamed raises ethical issues.
In Live Broadcast of Deaths Raised Ethical Questions on the Voice of American Blog ‘As It Is’ Robert Thompson, Director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University, says the rise in live streaming will have good consequences (holding people accountable) and bad (groups such as ISIS staging killings just for the purpose of recording them).
"A lot of these bad things are done for the sake of the recording they are going to get," Thompson says. "You could make the argument, pretty soundly, that September 11 was planned as a television production."
This will raise a wide range of ethical issues with live-streaming technology, but it will be nearly impossible to stop it: "Technology is relatively neutral," he says. "How do you only take the good from this and not the bad?"
And with all of this potentially graphic live content comes responsibility.
To deal with the likelihood that more and more graphic live material will be streamed Facebook will increasingly play a policies-and-standards role in the news social media users will see live-streamed.
The Minnesota video was off Facebook for about an hour last week - apparently while the network decided if it was too graphic and might violate Facebook's Community Standards.
Writing for Tech Talk Quinten Plummer notes that "to determine which graphic and violent images are permitted, Facebook relies on context."
In an article called "Facebook Live-Stream Video Gives Marginalized A Voice, But Here's Where It Draws The Line" Plummer reports: "Facebook has clarified its stance on gory and violent content. Just as is the case with video on demand, a member of Facebook's review team can interrupt a live video at any time. And a team member is on call around the clock, each day of the week."
And, in what seems to be Mark Zuckerberg’s wish for the future of live-streaming, the Facebook CEO says: "While I hope we never have to see another video like Diamond's, 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."
Zuckerberg's wish is one many share, but the reality is this: The media landscape changed last week and the ramifications of that will be felt far and wide….
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