Up Periscope, the rise of Twitter’s live streaming app – Ellis Schindler

31 07 2015

twitter-_-periscopeIt’s not much of an exaggeration to say that social media is starting to dominate everyday life. You can capture your every thought and activity in a status, photograph or video and broadcast it to family, friends and random strangers, if that kind of thing takes your fancy.

Perhaps then the next development in social media was a logical one. Now you don’t even have to wait a minute or two to share your life with the world. You can record your every move and stream it live.

Periscope is a video-streaming app and one of Twitter’s latest ventures. The idea is that wherever you are, and whoever you are, you can live stream anything to your followers. Your video will then be available on your profile for another 24 hours before it expires.

On my first visit to the site, I saw the devastation caused by the earthquake in Nepal, the riots in Baltimore and I was introduced to somebody’s Grandmother. Even Hilary Clinton is using the app as part of her 2016 presidential election campaign. I sense that I could also see a lot of cats if I was so inclined.

According to the Periscope team, “we wanted to build the closest thing to teleportation.“ It seems that they were on to something. Periscope hit the ground running, with one million users signing up in its first 10 days of life.

Commercially, the App allows broadcasters, stars, clubs and networks to give exclusive behind the scenes footage and raw access which is beyond what has been available before. But, like all forms of communication, there are those misusing the App already …….

The trolls hiding under the bridge

Trolling on social media sites is inevitable and Periscope is no different. Users are able to comment on videos as they are being streamed, giving them the opportunity to post hateful remarks. This has led to some users having to face torrents of abusive language and sexual comments.

Periscope has developed tools that users can use to combat their more unpleasant followers, such as a “Block User” option or an option to only allow people you follow to comment on your broadcasts. You can also choose to share your broadcasts privately or hide comments so you don’t have to see what people are saying. Apparently, the team is also taking action against users who have been blocked multiple times in order to identify serial trolls.

However, some users complain that fighting harassment and abuse is not as easy as it should be.  It is not yet possible to report users, although you can report their broadcasts or email Periscope or even its developers themselves with any problems.

Snoopers and Oversharers

The proliferation of cameras on phones mean that the risk of being photographed and videoed without consent is higher than ever. With Periscope’s instant publication to the world, not only are unwitting bystanders (and indeed intended “victims”) appearing on camera but their images are published instantly across the world.

It is not only third parties whose privacy is breached though, those who choose to use Periscope give away much information, including (often) their exact whereabouts at the time. Periscope allows users to see where some live videos are coming from by reference to the App’s map, even allowing users to zoom in to see live streams near where they are. The potential for security risks is clear.

The pirates hiding on the horizon 

One area where the app has already come under a lot of fire is copyright infringement. This may not be surprising, considering the ease at which anyone can live stream any content, whether they own the rights, or a licence, to it or not.

The American television network HBO has already had to issue a series of takedown notices after Periscope was used to illegally stream episodes from the latest season of Game of Thrones and the boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, which HBO, along with fellow broadcaster Showtime, had charged their pay-per-view customers a minimum of £59.50 to watch.  The latter infringement sparked 66 takedown notices but only 30 of those streams could be removed as the remaining ones had already finished.

Periscope does prohibit the use of copyrighted material in its Terms of Service and is ready to respond to takedown requests and warn the user at fault. However, Periscope CEO and Co-Founder Kayvon Beykpour has said that he doesn’t think the problem would become particularly widespread: “I just don’t think that Periscope, as much as I love it, is a compelling way to watch a theatrical premiere of a movie, a Game of Thrones release, a soccer match, an NBA match.”

And the winner is…  

Following the fight between Mayweather and Pacquiao, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo faced a backlash after Tweeting, “And the winner is… @periscopeco”, a Tweet apparently referring to HBO’s sponsored stream on the app, which filmed the inside of Pacquiao’s dressing room. It seems that, despite the issues it has faced, the broadcaster itself has still recognised the opportunities Periscope provides for reaching and engaging viewers.

Broadcasters are not the only organisations cautious about apps like Periscope. America’s National Hockey league has sent an email out to team presidents and media members, warning against unauthorised transmissions. The NHL earns billions in exchange for its broadcast rights, which could take a hit if anyone can broadcast games for free, so it is easy to see why they want to protect their lucrative commercial opportunities.

Elsewhere in the world of sport, during the Professional Golf Association Tour, one journalist, Stephanie Wei, found herself getting her media credential revoked when she used Periscope as part of her coverage, even though it wasn’t a scene being videoed by anyone else.

Afterwards, she commented that,

“I take responsibility for my actions. I broke a rule, but I was not thinking about that. I was thinking, ‘there’s this new, cutting-edge platform that would be good to engage fans and give them what they want to see.”

Indeed, it seems that the PGA Tour’s opinion of Periscope is not a world away from Wei’s and they subsequently set up their own channels on the app.

Recently, the U.S. Golf Association has warned that it will throw out anyone using Periscope to film the U.S. Open, believing that its three own live streaming channels provides a “much better viewing experience”. It seems that whatever doubts may be lingering, live streaming is the future.

This post originally appeared on the Himsworths Legal blog and is reproduced with permission and thanks


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