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. Facebook’s video views are skyrocketing but there’s a dark side to this growth. The social network also has a serious problem with copyright infringement, and rights holders say the company is doing little to stop it. Some of the biggest celebrities on the site are lifting viral videos created by others, sharing them with their fan-bases, and then earning money on the clicks those views generate on links to their own work on iTunes or elsewhere. Even when the videos are ultimately deleted, they can rack up tens of millions of views within days and make the thieves serious money in the process.
“But there are a few things that make me wary, not of their ability to grow my business, but of whether they give a shit about creators, which is actually pretty important. Let’s go through them one by one.”

1. Obviously they cheat
Least important, but it does concern:
If we embed a YouTube video or Vine on Facebook, only a tiny fraction of my audience will actually see it. But if we 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 Sci-Show 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.

2. Hypocrisy
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.
Facebook counts the “view” at the three second in the midst of a precipitous decline in retention. At that moment, 90% of people scrolling the page are still ‘watching’ this silent animated GIF. But by 30 seconds, when viewership actually could be claimed, only 20% are watching. 90% of people are being counted, but only 20% of people are actually “viewing” the video. YouTube, on the other hand, counts views in a logical way, the view is counted at the point at which people seem to actually be engaging with the video and not just immediately clicking away. This is usually around 30 seconds, but of course is different for videos of different lengths.

3. They Steal
The pisses us off bit.
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.


What is Facebook doing about it?
But that’s exactly what makes it so awful.
It’s no secret that YouTube was built, in part, on copyright infringement. Among the user generated content that drove traffic to YouTube in 2006 and 2007, there were plenty of Family Guy and Daily Show clips. But YouTube was a tiny start-up flying under the radar. As soon as it got big (and got bought) Google fixed this problem with “Content ID,” a system that analyzes every single video uploaded to YouTube and checks it against a massive database of known owned content.
It wouldn’t be surprising if Facebook was working on a solution now which they can roll out conveniently after having made their initial claims at being the biggest, most important thing in video.
But even if they do have a system, it won’t function as well as Content ID. Content ID works so well largely because YouTube is good at monetizing content. So, instead of taking a video down, a copyright holder can claim the video and receive revenue from it. Content ID has claimed millions of videos and is responsible for over a billion dollars in revenue so copyright holders love it. But without a good system of monetization, Facebook can only remove videos, not send big checks to the owners of stolen content. For the copyright holder, interfacing with a profitless system is just a pain in the ass with no upside.

What to do when stuck?
Well, the lack of searchability on Facebook makes it impossible for creators to discover when their content is being freebooted, so if you see suspect content, please reach out to the creator so they can take action. If you have any legal or technical solutions you think might work, please post those as responses to this. And above all, just know that this is an issue and share what you can with who you can. Facebook won’t hold itself accountable, but maybe they will if we make them.
Facebook is big enough that it shouldn’t need to resort to these tactics to build its video presence. It makes them look weak to be so excited about skyrocketing numbers if those numbers are based on cheating, lies, and theft.