YouTube star Hank Green has hit out at Facebook for its “lying, cheating and stealing” practices.
Hank – brother of John “The Fault in Our Stars” Green – has been a leading member of the vlogging community for years. Together with John, he founded VidCon, the video blogging convention that just took place in the US.
But the world of online video is changing and YouTube is now facing competition from a new rival: Facebook. The social network this year announced that it was recording 4 billion video views every day, up from 3 billion a year ago.
Green, though, argues that Facebook is artifically inflating its statistics to support its claim to being the biggest video site.
“Facebook is an interesting, emerging platform for us. Reaching an audience is valuable, even if there’s no way to turn that value into money. So I’m excited about the potential future of Facebook as a video platform,” he writes in a blog post on Medium.
Part of the social network’s streaming success, though, has been down to its decision to automatically play videos in users’ timelines. Facebook counts a “view” as someone letting a video play for more than three seconds, where YouTube uses a longer measure of around 30 seconds.
Three seconds is the standard used by some advertising companies, notes Marketing Land, with Instagram also using a three-second unit to measure views. Twitter’s Vine, meanwhile, uses its six-second length to count the number of “loops” a viewer watches – higher than Facebook’s three seconds, but far lower than YouTube’s 30.
Part of the issue surrounds the legnth of video: the accuracy of a “view” will vary if it is short-form content compared to, say, an episode of a web series. But as Facebook touts for both advertisers and creators, these kind of discrepancies can also make a big difference.
“The view is the thing that everyone talks about and it’s the thing creators sell to advertisers in order to make a living. Applying that word to something far less valuable is going to be extremely disruptive to creators,” he writes. “Ad agencies and brands are confused enough without Facebook muddying the waters.”
It’s one of the first times that Facebook has come under fire from such a high profile vlogger, with Green also calling them out for the amount of piracy that occurs between the sites, as people take videos from YouTube channels and republish them without credit.
“Of the 1000 most popular Facebook videos of Q1 2015, 725 were stolen re-uploads,” he adds. “Just these 725 “freebooted” videos were responsible for around 17 BILLION views last quarter. This is not insignificant, it’s the vast majority of Facebook’s high volume traffic.”
While YouTube has developed a major piracy-detecting algorithm to tackle such practices, though, Facebook is in its relative infancy, which means that it has not developed a similar technology. Green says it’s “inexcusable that a company with a market cap of $260bn, launched their video platform with no system to protect independent rights holders”.
Facbook has responded on Medium, pointing out that it using the Audible Magic system to detect unauthorised video content on the site.
“As video continues to grow rapidly on Facebook, we’re actively exploring further solutions to help IP owners identify and manage potential infringing content, tailored for our unique platform and ecosystem,” responded Matt Pakes, a product manager at Facebook.
Pakes noted that Facebook provides a reporting tool for content owners to report copyright infringement. The social network, though, has no search function for its videos, which makes it hard for creators on YouTube to find their content – another instance of Facebook’s fledgling video platform still finding its feet.
Should Facebook be given the time to develop its own rival platform fully before being held to account? Or should it wait to woo creators and advertisers until its service is more substantial? Let us know your thoughts below – or, if your YouTube videos have been stolen and uploaded to Facebook by someone else, get in touch.