BY CHRIS KRAUSS
Imagine a world where you could sit and watch anything and everything going on in the world, all from the comforts of your home. No expensive plane tickets, no life threatening danger and no agonizing stress. That is the aim of mobile live streaming, currently being introduced by apps like Twitter’s Periscope and Meerkat.
Watch a random band playing on the corner of Bourbon Street or the riot wrecking the streets of New York while sitting in your room procrastinating. There are no limits to what mobile live streaming could siphon from the world into your phone throughout the day.
Now, live streaming has been around for years now in many different forms. Twitch.tv mainstreamed live streaming video games, ESPN doing the same with sports and countless news organizations have utilized this method too.
However, mobile live streaming from a smartphone takes this to the next level. Anybody in the world could live stream at any time using something as simple as their smartphone. Youtube videos now become something interactive versus something static, creating an entirely new level of immersion.
Obviously there are some inevitable problems that come from allowing anyone to live stream and begs the question as to what should and shouldn’t be allowed to be published on the internet.
Some common complaints are that there is not a way to filter what gets livestreamed, no way to predict what will happen during a live stream and no way to stop people from watching these possibly inappropriate videos.
In regard to being able to filter what gets live streamed, it’s impossible. There is no way to stop something from getting live streamed before it gets actually gets live streamed. However, this is no different from any other video that is put up on the internet. Numerous videos are uploaded onto different websites everyday, only to be taken down a half hour later due to copyright infringement, mature content or terms and agreements violations. The major difference is once something is live streamed, it can’t be viewed again because it’s over, unlike every other video on the internet.
Not being able to predict what will happen in a live stream worries some people, but even most larger companies do not actually live stream, rather they have roughly a five-second delay where the editors do their best to cut profanity and other inappropriate material. Though this is not always a sure fire way of stopping things from slipping through, as in Fox’s “live” coverage of a JoDon Romero shooting himself.
Nothing can be predicted, so everything live streamed should be approached with a not safe for work (NSFW) warning beforehand. People worry that by using this they may accidently see nudity or someone shoot themselves, but if a person is worried then they should not watch live streams. It needs to be understood that anything could happen at anytime.
Lastly, stopping people from watching inappropriate streams works just like any other video on the internet. Videos uploaded, if not indicated as mature by the uploader, are not marked as NSFW until someone flags it and the video then gets an age confirmation requirement. This means that anyone could watch them, regardless of age, before it gets flagged and they have to put their age in. The same things apply with live streams. People would watch them and when something inappropriate happens, they would need to flag the channel. Whether it is a live stream or delayed, like most larger networks, accidents happen and sometimes NSFW material gets shown.
Plenty of positives apply to live streams, including allowing people to immerse themselves in a world they might not be able to experience normally. Even being able to experience news firsthand, away from the bias and censoring nature of larger news corporations. People could watch news for what it’s supposed to be, truthful and honest while also watching something as lighthearted as the grand opening of a local restaurant.
Accidents happen and people live stream damaging things sometimes, but that’s how life works. Things are constantly happening around us and no one is there to censor it, so letting an app allow the world to express this is exactly what the world needs: a way to experience everything raw and first hand. Letting everyone have a voice and a way to express it only helps the rest of the world connect and experience each other.
BY SHANNON WILEY
The news, especially television but also online, is driven by visual coverage. We could never understand the craziness of Ferguson or even the excitement and happiness of the Macy’s Day Parade without live video coverage.
This coverage, however, is not actually “live” because professional outlets have a delay that allows for them to quickly edit feed they are sending out, protecting more vulnerable or impressionable audiences from inappropriate language or footage.
As a citizen journalist before now, their only option was to film something on their phone or camera, and then post it, once they already know what is on the footage.
Although this videographer may not have the immediacy of the professionals, they have the added benefit of being able to provide context to what their audience will be watching.
For example, if something awful or tragic happened in plain view of the camera, the videographer can post along with the video “*Caution, graphic footage*” or “Man shot in midst of riot.”
This benefit is especially important if the videographer was filming something that should be family-friendly, such as the Macy’s Day Parade, and something tragic were to happen there.
Now, however, everyone has the opportunity to live stream, and the opportunity to project horrors on the screens of masses.
This opportunity comes in the form of apps Meerkat and Periscope, available to anyone connected to iTunes or GooglePlay.
Through the app, the streamer can start videoing and immediately a link to the stream will appear on his or her twitter feed to which audiences can watch what the videographer sees.
However, this opportunity comes with an obscenely large risk. Despite what the citizen journalist thinks they will be projecting, the potential for someone to see something that deeply disturbs them is too much of a threat.
Yes, these apps do have a few seconds delay, but citizens using this are still not professionals equipped to edit something seen in a second before it is out there for everyone.
Now a quick and easy solution people have given is to simply put “Possibly NSFW” (or Not Suitable For Work—the universal tag for inappropriate material) as a tag for all of the tweeted links.
Here’s the problem with that: after watching 10, 20 maybe 100 streams tagged “NSFW” with nothing bad happening, people will become desensitized to that warning so when they do open that one link with something traumatizing, they will be completely unprepared.
We cannot assume that everyone watching will be an adult, or even a well-stabilized adult at that. It could be a 12-year-old scrolling through Twitter, a mentally vulnerable 30-year-old, or a six-year-old looking over the shoulder of his or her unsuspecting father.
Others say that people should regard live streaming as an inappropriate genre, just like pornography is and one should not watch something under the category of “porn” if they are around young children, at work or in an otherwise unsuitable situation.
That is an unrealistic request for two reasons. The first is that live streaming is far too broad of a “genre” to require that it be listed as entirely inappropriate like porn is.
Surely, professional news outlets have made mistakes with their lag, but they still have the training and tools to do everything to fix a mistake or to avoid it in the first place.
My opposition to the left will bring up a 2012 case of FOX accidentally shooting and streaming a suicide.
In this case, though, the outlet did everything they could to make the video unavailable and apologized, but someone recorded their stream and uploaded it, leading to his children seeing the video before they even knew their father was dead.
News outlets have a duty and responsibility to their viewers and the victims of an event they are covering that they do not take likely. Citizens do not have that same pull.
Is immediate unprofessional coverage really so important that it has to be up the moment it happens that you are willing to subject your unsuspecting audience members to something graphic or disturbing?
No, it is not. If you want to be a citizen journalist, take a video and upload it the second that it ends when you know, for a fact, whether you need to warn your audience, or chose to not upload it at all.
Live streaming is a powerful weapon that should not be in the hands of the masses, but left to the professionals.