Resistance is Futile: How Facebook is Assimilating Online Video

We’re watching Facebook video. We’re watching Facebook video because we’re always on Facebook. We’re always on Facebook because the serotonin-laced approval, the likes, loves and comments, the “engagement” we crave over at Twitter is a dried-up Narnia for people who love being on the internet but are too cool to slum it on Facebook like the rest of us.

So we’re all on Facebook. We’re gonna say this bluntly: Facebook Video has made it very easy for people to upload content that doesn’t belong to them and get crazy pageviews, without any need to credit creators. Look, back in the day, YouTube was totally built on scaffolds of copyright infringement: awash with Family Guy and Saturday Night Live clips. But it pulled up its socks (uuh and also got bought up by Google) and it updated itself with “Content ID”, a system that analyzes every single video uploaded and checks it against its own massive database of known owned content. So it’s just a little bit HMMM that Facebook, a company with a reported market cap of $260 Billion, launched a video platform with no such system. Sure, you can report stolen content on Facebook - they’ll take it down after a day or so, after it’s received 99% of the views it will ever receive and is safely buried in the depths of everybody’s timelines.

It’s easy to dismiss the changing trends, as they are and always will, with an “adapt or die” response, but it still sucks for content creators. You’ve seen this video by Kurzgesagt about Freebooting - uploading YouTube videos directly to Facebook and “stealing” views from the creators, who rely on views for real-life revenue.

So how does this affect you?


How does this affect content creators?

Marketingland says it well: the biggest difference between Facebook and YouTube is intent and discovery. YouTube is a curated experience, and probably the second biggest search engine in the world next to rhymes-with-”Schmoogle” - and related videos usually show up at the end of play.

Facebook Video shows up on a timeline which people check on average 14 times a day using what Facebook’s Algorithm thinks you want to see - and that algorithm’s had time to fester and get to know you since you signed up and started liking shit. There’s no real search: it’s bugs slapping into your windshield, except you’re a warthog and the guts are things you kind of want to see. Here’s two arrows aimed at YouTube’s jugular: Facebook Video has an autoplay feature, and embed codes.

This is Facebook evolving flipper-feet and climbing out of its stinking bog and onto the rest of the internet. So even if you DO want to argue that Facebook video is bug-splatter - which we’re not going on the record to suggest is an objective fact - it’s still shareable beyond.

And while you’re making the decision to share media on Facebook, consider this: Facebook objectively loves Facebook Video more than anything else. Thumbnails for YouTube videos are 2.5 times smaller  than native videos on timelines and newsfeeds (but you can bump up your YouTube video icon size and reach with a paid boost). FB video, on the other hand, just flushes it all out into the ether, complete with giant-ass thumbnails. The other slithery thing is that FB video record 3 seconds of play as a “view” (about the time it takes for you to scroll and find what’s making that sound) - YouTube still needs a viewer to hold on for 30 seconds. So data reports hurt Youtube views with comparisons we can’t really accurately compare.



It’s still worth treating Facebook Video and Youtube as two different channels for two different audience groups: Facebook has it’s own SEO algorithm, different to Google’s - which means Google searches won’t likely spit up Facebook links or videos, and that a well titled, tagged, and description on a YouTube video has much better SEO implications. At least, for now. As inarguable huge as Google is, consider that according to stats, 88% of millennials get their news on Facebook; half get it there every day; and 53% of all video views come from shares.

So what do we do?

Look, nothing that works well is ever going to stay the same forever, unless you’re describing a shark. Sharks have remained unchanged for 300 million years and that should terrify you, but Facebook was invented 12 years ago by a surly college student, essentially to rate the attractiveness of women on a binary scale and it means it’s still going to go through adaptive changes.

The thing is: content creators can make a living off Youtube. It costs nothing and pays nothing to upload and share videos on Facebook, save for “visibility”. So this hurts a whole community of people who either need to switch to some pay-per-per-view platform and convince an audience used to seeing things for free - or maybe surrender to gratuitous sponsorship.

Is Facebook the Borg? Well. Let’s recognize that new social platforms and trends emerge, and that a flourishing communities don’t always stay that way (looking at you, Twitter). Far be it from us to make kooky life-in-space predictions, but let’s all be honest with ourselves about how often we and everyone we know uses Facebook… and remember it was never meant to be a benevolent garden for us to frolick in.