By Samantha Rosen
From FYI to SOS, Facebook Live has revolutionized the way people are sharing their news. Announced on April 6, Facebook Live allows users to use their smartphones to share a moment instantaneously on other people’s newsfeeds. Not only is it used to share special moments, like a child’s first steps, but also to spread breaking news, like Diamond Reynold’s cry for help.
Mark Zuckerberg announced Facebook Live by actually using the new feature.
“We built this big technology platform so we can go and support whatever the most personal and emotional and raw and visceral ways people want to communicate as time goes on,” Zuckerberg said when he spoke with Buzzfeed News.
On Facebook’s newsroom forum, the feature is described as “interactive and fun.” To go live, users use the camera on their smartphone to bring viewers right into their lives. Audience members can engage with broadcasters using live reactions, including “Love,” “Haha,” “Wow” and “Sad.”
According to Facebook, “people comment more than 10 times more on Facebook Live videos than on regular videos.”
“I have personally never used the going live feature of Facebook, but I do get a notification every time one of my friends does and I like watching theirs,” government and politics sophomore Carly Friedman said. “It’s a similar concept to Snapchat stories. People use it to connect with friends and family in a unique way and to show them what’s currently going on in their lives.”
Over the years, ordinary citizens have been partaking in the spread of news more and more with the use of their smartphone, taking pictures and videos at opportune moments and sharing them with the world. And, although Facebook Live originally began as a way to share one’s life with friends and receive immediate reactions, it has quickly evolved into another breaking news sharing medium.
News organizations, such as NPR and Buzzfeed, have begun using the new feature as well. NPR has done livestreams from its newsroom and did an impromptu coverage of the SXSW music festival in Austin, Texas.
Lori Todd, an NPR social media editor, said their Facebook Live video “had thousands more comments and seven times the view duration” than an edited video on Facebook, according to Poynter.
Buzzfeed has used the tool across its various Facebook pages, including Tasty, Buzzfeed Food and Buzzfeed News. According to Poynter, they too claim to have drawn viewership and reactions in the millions as a result of Facebook Live.
Professional news stations aren’t the only ones breaking news stories on Facebook Live. On July 6, Diamond Reynolds’ boyfriend, Philando Castile, was pulled over while driving and shot at four times.
Reynolds immediately pulled out her phone and began using Facebook Live to broadcast the scene to her friends. In nine minutes of live video, viewers watched Castile bleed out while an officer continued to aim his gun in the couple’s direction.
When later asked why Reynolds broadcasted the entire incident, she said she did not trust the justice system to investigate it and “wanted to put it on Facebook and go viral so that the people could see.”
“I feel like in this aspect [Facebook Live] could be taking away from the major news sources,” sophomore journalism major Rebecca Cohen said. “Obviously each person has his own opinion of what is important and ‘newsworthy’ so it might be refreshing for someone who doesn’t like the major news sources to see what the commoner has to say. In cases such as the woman being shot at, it’s incredibly helpful in dealing with the truth behind police brutality. I think it could be an asset to the way we use reporting since it is easy and accessible, as long as people don’t rely on it as their major news source.”