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Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Facebook changes mean you'll see even more friends' posts

Those core values are that friends and family come first, that the feed should inform and entertain, that Facebook is a platform for all ideas, that authentic communication beats spam, that you have the controls to hide or highlight what you want, and that Facebook will keep iterating to improve the experience.

Facebook is also making a feed ranking change today that literally puts its primary value that “Friends and family come first” into practice. The News Feed will now show posts from friends higher up in the feed than posts from Pages like news outlets. Pages should expect a decline in reach and referral traffic, especially if they rely on clicks directly to their posts rather than re-shares by their followers.

While the News Feed is ranked by a computer algorithm, Facebook’s Adam Mosseri explains “News Feed is a system that’s designed and built by people, those people have values, and those values are reflected in how we make decisions on a regular basis.” By publicly solidifying those values, users may gain faith that Facebook doesn’t have ulterior motives when deciding the best content to show them.

The change may not even be beneficial for Facebook users if fewer people are sharing personal posts, as one report maintains. Sharing of personal news — rather than news articles or Internet memes — fell 21% year over year as of mid-2015, according to tech news site The Information. Facebook has said that, in contrast, overall sharing has remained similar to levels in prior years. 

Users who do choose to like and follow media companies usually do so because they want to see the content, said Rich Gordon, professor and director of digital innovation at Northwestern University.

Gordon said Facebook’s News Feed algorithm could treat online profiles of news outlets differently than they would celebrities or other public organizations — that way users can enjoy news articles without being bombarded by other posts.

Since publishers use social media to generate a large chunk of their revenue, Facebook still needs to be more transparent about their algorithms for media publishers to know exactly how their posts are being shown to users, Gordon said.

“There is a reason to treat publishers’ pages differently from other brands pages,” Gordon said. “I feel Facebook pulled a bait and switch because when they first allowed you to like a publishers page, I think the clear message was ‘like this page and we will keep you informed when we have something interesting that we are publishing,’ and Facebook upset that apple cart very quickly.”

Facebook also shared their News Feed Values with users to be transparent on changes. The values include connecting people with posts of family and friends first, while also entertaining and providing informational content from their liked Pages.

Friday, 24 June 2016

YouTube's mobile app will soon support live video streams

YouTube is introducing live video streaming to its mobile app. The new feature is currently being rolled out to select YouTube channels, in a move that will put it in direct competition with Twitter's Periscope.

To start a live stream, YouTube users will simply need to press the red capture button at the top right corner of the app and take or select a photo to use as a thumbnail. From there, users will be able to broadcast to audiences live. Mobile live streaming will have all the features supported by regular YouTube videos, meaning users will be able search for live streams, find them through recommendations and playlists and protect their own videos from unauthorised uses.

Live streaming has been available on YouTube's web service since 2011 and, in April this year, the Google-owned service introduced the ability to broadcast 360-degree video live to the website as part of its virtual reality push. Facebook has also introduced live video streaming in recent weeks.

The ability to live-stream from YouTube's mobile app will make it more of a challenger to Periscope, which is newer and has a smaller user base than Google's 11-year-old video streaming service. Twitter plans to integrate Periscope directly into its microblogging platform and is currently trialling the functionality with a small number of Apple users – meaning it will need to speed things up if it wants to stop YouTube pushing out the feature first.

It's a little surprising that it's taken YouTube so long to get into this business, as the company has supported live broadcasts on the YouTube platform for a long time now. Facebook may have a big advantage, because that's where all of your friends are, but the many creators who have built large and dedicated YouTube followings will surely benefit from this. And it's not hard to imagine plenty of other, less popular users giving YouTube's live video option a shot as well. The company is rolling out the feature today for a small group of its creators, but there's no word yet on when we'll all get a chance to stream live YouTube broadcasts.

Simplicity is the name of the game when going live with video like this, and YouTube's app appears to have made things quite easy. There will be a new "capture" button in the app; after hitting that, you can shoot a photo to use as a thumbnail, add a quick description and start broadcasting. The app lets you decide whether or not you want a chat feature to be enabled, and you can also elect to notify your subscribers when you go live.

YouTube can still win the livestreaming war

YouTube will soon put the power of live streaming in the palm of your hand.

The video-sharing service this week announced plans to bake mobile live streaming directly into its app. Just tap the red capture button, take or select a photo to use as a thumbnail, and broadcast to fans in near real time.

Because it's built into the mobile app, live streaming comes with all the same features as regular videos: search, recommendations, playlists, and protection from unauthorized uses. "And since it uses YouTube's peerless infrastructure, it'll be faster and more reliable than anything else out there," Kurt Wilms, product lead for Immersive Experiences at YouTube, wrote in a blog post.

Launched Thursday at VidCon in California, YouTube mobile live streaming is initially available from The Young Turks, AIB, Platica Polinesia, SacconeJolys, and Alex Wassabi. Wilms said the service will be rolling out more widely "soon."

"We've been offering live streaming on YouTube since 2011, before it was cool," the blog said, citing the millions of people who tuned in for the Royal Wedding and Felix Baumgartner's leap from space. More recently, it became the first to broadcast a 360-degree live stream during Coachella, capturing 21 million-plus views.

YouTube  Video  live streaming  Livestreaming
YouTube can still win the livestreaming war
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YouTube, sounding a little miffed that House representatives were live streaming their sit-in using Periscope and Facebook Live, reminded its community that it has been offering live streaming on its site since 2011, “before it was cool,” the company snarked in a series of announcements emerging from this week’s VidCon event.

That may be true, but a single-purpose apps like Periscope are easier to use, which aided in its adoption. It caters to those who want more of a push-button experience: click to go live. YouTube, now scrambling to catch up, says it will update its mobile application so that the ability to go live will be baked right in.

According to the company, the main YouTube mobile app will be redesigned to include a big red capture button that will allow video creators to immediately broadcast what they’re seeing. This button was introduced last year in order to make it simpler to record videos on the go. (The fact that it didn’t occur to YouTube at that time to also introduce a live streaming component is something it’s probably regretting these days.)

If anyone was poised to capitalize on the renewed interest in live streaming, it should have been YouTube.

The technology had matured from the earlier days of “mobile livecasting” where apps like Flixwagon, Qik, Kyte and others were vying to become the dominant streaming video service. But these apps were before their time – mobile bandwidth that could handle live streams wasn’t as available as it is today; not everyone even carried a smartphone; some apps required jailbreaking to use; and it wasn’t as seamless to distribute the videos as it is now, where they move instantly across channels like Facebook and Twitter reaching millions of viewers.

With last year’s debut of Meerkat and its subsequent popularity following SXSW 2015, the writing was on the wall: the time to return focus on live broadcasting had arrived. The pain points of the past had been resolved, and the only real question is whether the market would end up consolidating around one or two key players, or whether an ecosystem of niche live streaming services would bloom.

But while YouTube, indeed, has had the tools on hand for years as well as the robust technology to support live streaming, it missed out on truly popularizing the feature among mainstream users. Live streaming is something “bigger” creators took advantage of, while the rest of us everyday people picked up Periscope.

Facebook, meanwhile, was also at this week's VidCon, where it "pre-announced" new updates for its live-streaming platform. According to TechCrunch, the company will let users conduct two-person remote broadcasts, pre-schedule streams, create a virtual waiting room for viewers, and broadcast with MSQRD's face masks.

Facebook's Instagram is also exploring video, announcing new "Picked for You" channels in Explore, which groups videos by your favorite topics and interests. "The total time people spent watching video on Instagram increased 150 percent over the past six months," a company blog said. "As video continues to grow, we're adding new channels to Explore to make it easier for you to discover videos you'll enjoy."