Facebook: The Wannabe YouTube

When you want to find the newest video of a cat doing something irresistibly cute, usually the last thing we think is “I wonder who created this?”. With YouTube reaching more 18-49 year olds than any cable network in the United States, other social media networks (such as Facebook and Twitter) try and compete with the amount of traffic YouTube generates each day. When Facebook announced they receive around 8 billion video views per day, an impressive feat for a site that does not specialize in videos, people started to get a little suspicious.

Firstly, Facebook counts three seconds of video play as one view, a substantially lower amount of time when compared to YouTube’s 30 seconds for one view.

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The data above shows most Facebook viewers lose interest in a matter of seconds.Most might not watch even a fraction of the video, yet with Facebook’s “auto-play” function (one that starts the video just by hovering your mouse over it), scrolling through your feed slower than average can count as a view. Yet, almost all YouTube viewers continue to watch for the duration of the video.

Perhaps the biggest problem Facebook faces is where is this creative content coming from? Well in a report done by Social@Olgivy and TubularLabs, 725 of the 1000 most-viewed Facebook videos from early 2015 were stolen from original YouTube creators. This act is called “freebooting”

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Freebooting has become real problem on the internet. Facebook is programmed to prefer videos that are uploaded directly into it’s own video player, provoking stolen content to be shown over the original content. This is great for Facebook; show content that is popular therefore it gains views while raking in the money from the advertisements shown alongside it.

When YouTube faced similar problems, they introduced Content ID; a database that compares content to a database then allows the original creator decide if they want the video taken down or if they want to start collecting profit from it. Facebook’s means of resolving the situation just involves the struggle of getting in contact with Facebook and results in the video being taken down, after tons of forms and even more views.

Perhaps the biggest flaw is Facebook provides no option of reimbursement for the money earned from ads shown alongside the video. Destin Sandlin, or better known as the YouTube channel Smarter Every Day, was introduced to freebooting in one of the worst ways possible. When one of his 2.8 million subscribers brought to his attention that one of his his videos was posted by a publishing company from Europe and was quickly gaining popularity, He contacted Facebook immediately. By the time the video was taken down, it had reached over 17 million views or as Sandlin put it, “some serious college fund money”. Even though Sandlin had worked incredibly hard to create this content, he received no money for his work, along with no recognition either. 

When Casey Neistat, another popular YouTuber who is also no stranger to his content being stolen by Facebook users, was asked to comment on the epidemic that is freebooting, he said:

“Facebook has created a system where users are rewarded and encouraged to steal [intellectual property],” Neistat wrote in an email to Tech Insider. “There is no punishment, no consequences for stealing — even when caught and content is removed. Only the lasting reward of greater engagement on your FB page.”

This isn’t just Facebook’s lack of consideration, it is also the governments. According to The Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act ( or OCILLA for short), the process of getting rid of stolen content is for “copyright owners to notify service providers of infringing content. The service provider responds to the notice by removing the content in order to limit the liability that it may have for hosting the infringing material” (Guzman 184). The law is essentially being followed by Facebook; allowing the content creator to contact the provider and then the content being taken down. Unlike Destin, who is now up to 3.7 million subscribers, most YouTubers don’t have those amount of people looking out for their copyrighted material on other platforms, therefore many counts of infringement remain unnoticed.

With a multi-billion dollar empire that is Facebook, things like this should not even be a problem.A handful of YouTubers rely off their content to be their sole source of income so every view counts and when others use their hard work for their own gain, it is infuriating. Without some sort of database to prevent “freebooting” currently in action, Facebook is just letting these creators get screwed over. Most YouTubers advise you comment on the videos saying the content was stolen and link to the original, so that the rightful owner can get credit or even contacting them directly. Yet, because so many stolen videos are posted without the creator being aware, this can be hard to keep on top of. So before you share that viral video about Bernie Sanders on Facebook you thought was “so relatable”, remember that statistically, that video was stolen from someone who will never know.

Media Adaptation:



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