The Arrival of Facebook Live Made Twitter’s Brutal Week 100x Worse

It’s even easier to show everyone your breakfast now. The battle for the future of live streaming is heating up.

February 3, 2016
credit: frankie gaw // medium

Mark Zuckerberg has zero sympathy for Jack Dorsey.

In what had already been a rocky week for Twitter, Facebook made it exponentially rockier with their announcement last Thursday that all U.S. iPhone users (Android coming soon) will have the ability to live stream directly from the app.

They’re calling this service Facebook Live.

Arguably, this is a bigger blow to Twitter than losing nearly half their executives in one day. Sure, they said they ‘left voluntarily,’ but… y’know.

Why is Facebook Live such a big deal?

Because live streaming is an area where Twitter, through its Periscope app, is winning (sorry, Meerkat).

And judging by Twitter’s recent partnership with GoPro to allow people to live stream onto Periscope directly from their cameras, they’re fully invested in its future, too.

But now they’ll have to compete directly with Facebook, which boasts nearly five times as many active users and is growing much faster (crazy stat of the day: in Q2 of last year Facebook added more daily active users in the U.S. alone than Twitter added monthly active users, globally).

So yeah, Twitter’s week didn’t go too well.

Let’s take a closer look at their new competition.

What is Facebook Live and how does it differ from Periscope?

In terms of recording the live stream itself, Facebook Live is pretty much identical to Periscope.

When making a status update in the Facebook app, you’ll now see the option to share live video. You can make your stream available to everyone or restrict it to just your friends, and people who watch can leave comments.

The main difference is what happens after the live stream is finished.

Replays of Periscope streams can be watched for 24 hours before disappearing, whereas Facebook Live streams are saved to the user’s profile forever (unless they decide to delete them).

This is an important difference when you consider that celebrities and media companies – both of whom benefit from a higher view count – will be using this feature quite a bit.

Permanent replays all but guarantee more traffic over time.

Let’s also consider that Twitter feeds are in real-time, while Facebook newsfeeds are filtered.

Therefore, finding a time-relevant live stream might be easier on Twitter, but Facebook will be sure to show you the most popular ones – particularly if you “like” that person’s/company’s page.

Who will win?

If it sounds like I’m predicting a brighter future for Facebook Live than for Periscope, it’s because I am.

But I also just really like new and exciting things, so you should probably ignore me and form your own opinion.

In Twitter’s defense, it is still the go-to social media platform for real-time and breaking news.

According to a Pew Research Center study, 59% of Tweeters have used Twitter to keep up with an event as it’s happening, versus just 31% of Facebook users.

So, if live streaming’s primary use moving forward is as a tool for sharing things such as live news coverage or a celebrity’s first-person perspective from the red carpet (see below), Twitter might have a chance to come out on top.

The Rock Facebook Live Stream

However, I think the future of live streaming will encompass much more than that.

The winner of this battle will be whomever can successfully convince the mainstream public to jump in front of a camera and record a live stream for their 500 friends, as opposed to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson smiling and flexing for his 54 million fans.

And considering the popularity of Snapchat (stories aren’t live streams, but aren’t that far off, either) a lot of that convincing has already been done.

So, the biggest factor in predicting the winner has to be the number of potential users, right?

In that case, I’m just going to leave this here…

Facebook users

Source: Statista

Time to start waking up even earlier if you plan on winning this one, Jack…

A note from The Hustle: Every morning at 9am Pacific, we send an email with the top news stories in business and tech. It's kind of like if your friend read the internet all day then told you the important stuff in a fun, easy to understand way. Join the club and impress your coworkers with how smart you are.

Welcome to The Hustle. We send a daily email that makes you smart with all the news you need to know. Sound good? Gravy. Learn more →