This article originally appeared on 60 Second Social.
Hank Green is a well known YouTuber who creates quirky vloggy content on a number of channels. He is John Greens brother and between them they run the now famous Vidcon which took place recently. There is no doubt that YouTube content creators have become a powerful community and yesterday Hank Green wrote a blog post called “Theft, Lies and Facebook Video” where he accused Facebook of using dishonest practices which stifled video creators, practises which have given way to Facebook calling themselves the largest streamers of online video.
Hank’s argument centered on accusations of Facebook lying, stealing and cheating to maintain an upper hand over YouTube in the video streaming war. Green alleged that “they cheat” and that they significantly suppress YouTube links an emphasise their own native video content instead. He also provided data to support this allegation.
Green alleged that “they lie” and this is something we have addressed here before. Facebook’s definition of a view being counted is if you watch a video for 3 seconds. This is a tactic which is allowing them to rack up huge viewing numbers over a small period of time. In comparison a YouTube view is counted at 30 seconds. As a result, Green says that video creators are likely to see an inflated number of viewers on their Facebook clip but how many are watching after the three second mark and how many are engaged in the video content?
Green also alleged that “they steal” which is in reference to what seems to be a lackluster commitment from Facebook to protect copyright of content. A pretty damning statistic supports this, of the top 1,000 videos in Q1 of 2015, 725 of them were re-uploads of content from other sources. They are no significant safeguards on Facebook to protect content creators unlike YouTube which utilises Content ID.
But even if they do have a system, it won’t function as well as Content ID. Content ID works so well largely because YouTube is good at monetizing content. So, instead of taking a video down, a copyright holder can claim the video and receive revenue from it.
Facebook has responded to the allegations, Matt Pakes, a Product Manager at Facebook said that;
If you have stayed on a video for at least three seconds, it signals to us that you are not simply scrolling through feed and you’ve shown intent to watch that video. However, we also provide detailed metrics and tools to help Pages better understand how people respond to their videos on Facebook.
Facebook also say that they take intellectual property rights very seriously and that they utilise the Audible Magic content recognition system to identify those which are infringing on copyright. However the system clearly is not working well, if it was then we wouldn’t be looking at data saying the top 725 videos of Q1 were infringing on copyright.
Green raised some very valid flaws in the current Facebook video system. While most of Green’s arguments carry weight the one of the least importance is that Facebook emphasises native content over YouTube. Of course they do, Facebook have made it clear they want to be the biggest when it comes to streaming content so it is hardly a surprise to see them place their native content in priority over YouTube links. On top of that, it is their service and they are entitled to do that if they wish, is it fair? No. Is it unethical? No.
However, on the other points there is cause for concern. The big one being that Facebook counts a view after 3 seconds. Let’s be real here, we all know that 3 seconds is nowhere near a realistic metric on whether you are engaged with the content or not. On top of that, Facebook needs to start working on protecting creators, Audible Magic is clearly not cutting it. YouTube may have had copyright problems back in the day, but the Facebook of 2015 needs to be held to a higher standard now than the YouTube of 2007.
Facebook may boast that their numbers are the highest in the business but they are doing little to encourage content creators and even less to protect content creators. Their video model needs a lot of work if it is to be truly compared to the success that YouTube is having.