Facebook’s video ambitions are obviously not hidden from anyone, given their recent strategies to attract video creators to upload their videos directly to Facebook. While Facebook Video has certainly become a force to reckon with in a short period of time, especially for Youtube, the real “view” behind its rise may not be as pleasant as it looks.
Professional Youtube creator Hank Green has accused Facebook of manipulating numbers and using deceptive practices to claim the title of the largest video site.
His post titled Theft, Lies and Facebook puts forward pretty solid arguments based on facts and figures pointing towards something fishy going on Facebook Video.
Facebook says it’s now streaming more video than YouTube. To be able to make that claim, all they had to do was cheat, lie, and steal.
writes Hank in the beginning of his post.
The post then goes about elaborating on each of the three accusations (cheat, lie and steal) beginning with the apparent disparity in the reach of videos, found by many researchers between the same videos uploaded natively on Facebook and embedded via Youtube on Facebook.
Hank gives an example of the video channel called SciShow on which he uploads his videos.
The SciShow YouTube video embedded on Facebook will reach between 20,000 and 50,000 people and be viewed by hundreds of people. The same video uploaded natively will get a reach of between 60,000 and 150,000 and be “viewed” by tens of thousands.
The post further gives reference to a research carried out by Duke University which shows how native Facebook videos garners a number of views quickly than Youtube videos but at the same time, clearly shows that despite this, the average video duration of Facebook Video is much less than Youtube.
This brings to the second argument by Hank which says Facebook follows a rather unreasonable approach to calculate number of views and counts 3 second view durations as one view. This is in strike contrast to Youtube which counts a view only after 30 second duration is crossed.
The difference in metric to calculate number of views can explain the reason behind the huge number of views often recorded by Facebook native videos. While this approach may look like harmless at first, but it is a huge detrimental factor to the original video creators who use number of views as a metric to sell their videos to brands and ad companies.
When Facebook says it has roughly the same number of views as YouTube, what they really mean is that they have roughly 1/5th of YouTube’s views, since they’re intentionally and blatantly over-counting to the detriment of everyone except them.
However, the most important issue Hank raises is the copyright infringement and blatant stealing of videos from original creators which are then uploaded natively to reach millions of people. The post gives a shocking number from a report by Ogilvy and Tubular Labs which said that 725 out of 1000 Facebook Videos in Q1, 2015 were stolen re-uploads thus implying that these 725 “freebooted” videos were responsible for around 17 billion views last quarter.
And this is in no doubt a massive number severely undermining the credibility of Facebook videos. Although in its nascent stage as a startup, Youtube too did not have any concrete measures to protect the original content but once bought by Google, this problem was fixed by “Content ID”, the system which analyzes every single video uploaded to YouTube and checks it against a massive database of known owned content.
The copyright owner can not only claim his video over Youtube but also gets revenue which makes this system and Youtube a more preferable choice for video creators. However, forget the monetized system, there is no such system at all in place for Facebook Video and they just take down video after two three days if someone reports of copyright violation.
And this according to Hanks is little inexcusable that Facebook, a company with a market cap of $260 Billion, launched their video platform with no system to protect independent rights holders. In addition to it, the absence of a robust search platform on Facebook unlike Youtube, it makes it very difficult for the content owners to find which of their videos are being copied and re-uploaded.
On the other hand, Facebook did respond to the above post via their Product Manager named Matt Pakes. He mentioned that the reach of videos was dependent on the users as content on their news feed is customized by their own preferences.
On the view count issue, he said that since there are no broad industry standards for measuring view counts, they take 3 seconds as a standard as if someone has stayed on a video for at least three seconds; it means that he has shown intent to watch that video. Now if you are using 3 seconds to judge a view, you are giving some really non-sensical, ridiculous metrics to creators.
In addition to it they also provide detailed metrics to show the video up loaders about how long people have watched their videos.
Furthermore, he claimed using of Audible Magic System for years to prevent unauthorized content and protect the copyright owners who also have various reporting tools to report infringement.
Overall it was more or less a pretty formal and rather unconvincing reply, given the strong factual base of the post, with usual promises and assurances to take feedback seriously and improve upon their services.