Theft, Lies, and 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.

I’m a professional YouTube creator. Some people think that this is some kind of joke but I have 30 employees. All of them work in the online video industry, about half of them work directly on producing videos for our educational YouTube channels. We’re a small, profitable business.

They Cheat

This is the least important, but it does bug me.

If I embed a YouTube video or Vine on Facebook, only a tiny fraction of my audience will actually see it. But if I post the same video natively on Facebook, suddenly it’s in everyone’s feed everywhere! This data is pretty easy to come by for us, and Facebook is happy to admit the strategy. A 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 (more on what those “views” actually mean later).

* is for clicks to open the YouTube video. ** is for clicks to open the Facebook video (rather than autoplay)
A second video did better both natively and as an embed, but did MUCH better natively.

They Lie

When a “View” is not a view.

In our analytics-obsessed world, it’s tempting to first ask how to measure whether something is a view, but if we take a step back and just ask what a “view” is, the answer becomes clearer. What is a view? It’s when someone watches the video. And Facebook counts views significantly before people could be said to be watching the video.

Retention on YouTube for the same video.

They Steal

Welcome to the bit that really pisses me off

According to a recent report from Ogilvy and Tubular Labs, of the 1000 most popular Facebook videos of Q1 2015, 725 were stolen re-uploads. 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. And no wonder, when embedding a YouTube video on your company’s Facebook page is a sure way to see it die a sudden death, we shouldn’t be surprised when they rip it off YouTube and upload it natively. Facebook’s algorithms encourage this theft.

Novelist, YouTuber, Science Communicator, Community Organizer, Educational Media Creator

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