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Facebook Live and the New Media Gatekeepers: who will run the show?

Facebook Live, the ability to stream online video via Facebook, brings up amazing possibilities. It can turn people, brands and organizations into broadcasters, connecting them with a potential audience of billions. This, of course, has always been the general allure of social media (although the reality has much less billions), and now includes live video.

This is an incremental upgrade to Facebook’s capabilities but can herald a major impact on the media landscape. The consumption of video is fast rising on the web today, and YouTube is very much the king (for now) in that realm.

It’s hard to fathom Facebook overtaking YouTube as the main platform for video hosting and sharing, but Facebook has other advantages and (we guess) other plans. Facebook has been courting media publishers for some time now, and it will most likely do the same to exploit video streaming capabilities.

Media companies have been embracing Instant Articles (do they really have a choice?) where they publish content directly to Facebook’s platform, as opposed to sharing articles from their own websites or apps. Eventually the same will happen to video. At that point, Facebook will (also) be in the business of connecting audiences to live broadcasters via an advertising business model. That’s not that much different from what TV has been doing for the past 80 years or so.

There is a lot of conversations regarding the Tech’s Big Four (Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google) moving to occupy the traditional role of information gatekeepers in our society, the role that was traditionally occupied by Mass Media. This latest move by Facebook signals a strong power play into occupying this territory – or seizing a big chunk.

It’s interesting to simplify it as TV’s two main traditional purposes – Information and Entertainment – being split by different players. Streaming services such as Hulu or Netflix are grabbing the Entertainment part replacing tv’s broadcasting of movies and tv shows. With Facebook Live the social media giant took a very important step in securing a strategic stake on the fight for the Information one.


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