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This article was published on November 4, 2016

Facebook Live is becoming a shitstorm of epic proportions

Facebook Live is becoming a shitstorm of epic proportions
Bryan Clark
Story by

Bryan Clark

Former Managing Editor, TNW

Bryan is a freelance journalist. Bryan is a freelance journalist.

When giving a platform to someone, it quickly becomes apparent that not everyone is worthy of having it. If you don’t believe me, a 10-minute perusal through Facebook Live is probably all you’ll need to see the light.

The tech-charged world we live in has left us fortunate to be able to log on and broadcast a message to a potential audience of billions. Some take full advantage of it by making it a value-added proposition. Whether creating art or offering sound advice, the Casey Neistat’s and Gary Vaynerchuk’s of the world are who live video was made for.

These two, and countless others provide real value in their creative work — in both entertainment and utility. But hell, I’m not picky; I’d settle for either of the above — even ‘Real Housewives’ can check one of the two boxes (for some people, anyway).

What I can’t wrap my head around is the engagement-seeking behavior that drives people to post something like this:


That, my friends, is a pre-recorded ‘Live’ video. As you can see, our own Matt Navarra took issue with it. He’s not wrong. The comment exchange started when Navarra asked him why he was sharing a recorded video. Boz’s response and Navarra’s follow-up are pictured.

Can’t lie, I chuckled more than a little at the ‘it was recorded live” comment. You mean, like, um, everything that is now archived?

Boz just shared the content, so the bigger issue isn’t really him. It’s Facebook pages like ‘Insterstinate’ that game Facebook’s algorithm by posting ‘Live’ videos that are really just recorded loops.

Worse, they’re building this engagement by using video content they don’t own. Noticeably absent is a link to the original, or a disclaimer that this isn’t really live. Worse still, it’s a 26-minute video looped for over two hours! If you need one last ‘fuck you,’ it’s from a Facebook page with nearly 500,000 ‘likes’ that hasn’t produced a single piece of original content — live or archived.


If you want to write that off as a single bad example, don’t.

How about Santa Claus with a ‘Live’ countdown timer until Christmas.

Can someone point me to the kid that’s unfortunate enough to have to watch this for the next month and a half? Seriously, that’s some Guantanamo-esque torture if I’ve ever seen it.

Just sit tight and watch that countdown, Timmy. Daddy says we’ll get cable again real soon.

Or how about those that point a webcam at an iconic building and let people watch while literally nothing happens?


Dude, we have pictures for that; save Facebook the bandwidth. And save me several hundred words of complaining.


I mean c’mon, Facebook Live is made for that time your uncle said he could drink an entire 30-pack of Coors in one sitting. It’s made for the people who want to show off their new wheels by doing donuts in the parking lot. Hell, it’s made for political candidates to spread lies to the American populace while we all just wish this election would go the fuck away.

It’s not made for video that would be better served as a picture, or people using lame video as a means to engagement.

For what it’s worth, I don’t blame Mashable, Santa Claus, or even Interestinate; I blame Facebook. Publishers are just making due with the tools they’re given; it’s Facebook that’s governing how we use them.


I’m glad you asked. They do this because Facebook makes the rules. The rules currently favor those ‘creating’ original content, and especially those utilizing live video. If we create this personal content, we’re rewarded with views, likes, shares, and a general feeling of self-importance over how truly amazing we are for producing such an exceptional piece of content.

But why does Facebook do this?

Facebook, it seems, is undergoing a mass migration away from the traditional way we used it — sharing photos of food, posting life-altering status updates while on the shitter, and waxing poetic about what a dickhead your ex is. Now, we’re using it to share memes, get into politically-charged fights, and call each other dumbasses — you know, just like God intended.

Unfortunately, engagement is hard to come by. You know an easy way to get more of it? Live video!

And we’ve come full circle. Thanks for paying attention.