San Francisco (CBS SACRAMENTO) — Live stream video is going mainstream as two new apps are placing real-time broadcast ability in the hands of any smartphone user – although many are unknowingly broadcasting their home addresses.
Personalized live stream video available on Meerkat and Twitter’s Periscope app (iPhone only currently) allow users to immediately broadcast themselves directly to social media. Live video produced by individuals on smartphones is expected to enable more “video aggregation” from citizen journalists and allow unfiltered content to directly reach streaming users.
Tech experts are still unsure how the new live streaming apps will be used, but they say that’s just part of social media.
“When it comes to new tech nobody knows what it’ll be used for, even to the companies — everyone asked what the point of Twitter was when it was released,” said CNET’s Ian Sherr. “It’s almost purposefully open-ended.”
The consumer reaction to the Periscope-Meerkat competition was skewed, with Twitter’s Periscope app quickly gaining popularity, breaking into the U.S. iPhone top-30 chart by Friday night.
“This is a rare feat for a social media app, and it demonstrated that Periscope had immediate and broad consumer appeal,” CNET’s Jason Parker writes.
Periscope allows users to broadcast their exact GPS location, even showing the direction their phone is facing. But Periscope viewers of any broadcast can zoom in and see the exact location — with street names and building positions labeled – of where the smartphone user is recording the video. The “reliably precise” location of the recording smartphone is shown on a map just below the video the user is shooting.
Twitter, which sees itself “very much as a tool of free speech,” has made it clear that content supporting terrorism is not tolerated, but tech experts say that “instantaneous” live feeds always leave open the possibility of such use and that it’s “unlikely” Twitter would filter criminal content, said Sherr.
“When you make technology like this available to everyone, then this is the risk that you accept,” he said. “I guarantee you something crazy will happen, but it’ll be more important to see how the company responds.”
U-Stream, Twitch, Livestream and Bamboozler have all previously enabled users to broadcast personalized live content, but now the focus is on how fast and how wide of a net this video can branch out on social media networks.
CNET’s Sree Sreenivasan says “citizen journalists covering major demonstrations” and individuals’ simplified ability to record and broadcast any content can only be judged after users get their hands on the newer, mainstream technology.
He said that “video aggregation” and people’s ability to record and view archived video will determine which live stream app is successful.
“The key is to get these tools out there, and get people using them” said Sreenivasan. “Once you release a product you lose control of it to some extent…You’ll have criminal elements as well as finding folks for uses you didn’t imagine.”