Facebook Live Map is now available to the Facebook users of 60 countries. It’s the latest update to Facebook Live, and allows Facebook users to create their very own live video streams with only a few clicks of a mouse and broadcast it to potentially everyone on Facebook.
Live streaming services available to the public isn’t anything new. YouTube have had it for a while and sites like Periscope specialise in letting people create their own live streams.
But with Facebook, it’s different, because it isn’t targeted at any particular niche. It’s not targeted at professional YouTubers or streaming fanatics. It’s bought live streaming to the public. The average Joe. Basically, everyone.
With only two clicks of a mouse, a Facebook user can be watching the live video stream of any Facebook user around the world who is broadcasting. Just open up the live map, click any of the blue dots that represent a live stream, and you’re in. You’re watching someone’s live stream.
Only a few more clicks and you can be broadcasting a live stream yourself. It’s Facebook’s latest push to a more “interactive, immersive experience” on the social networking site, but of course with it comes some concerns we all need to be aware of.
Here are four.
Another avenue for seeing offensive material
Facebook have been criticized in the past for allowing offensive material onto their website, failing to provide a speedy enough removal process for inappropriate – if indeed they removed it at all! Facebook is open to children from 13 years and upwards, and we know that children under that age probably use the site too.
Focusing on live streaming provides another way offensive – or even illegal – material can be introduced onto the social networking website. Live Map – by design – makes it easy and quick for any of their users to view random live streams, and in doing so are opening a new way for their all of their users to be exposed to offensive content. Given the live nature of live streaming, there is little pre-emptive oversight Facebook can put into place to prevent people from streaming such material.
Remember, Live Map takes you through many different avenues of the Internet, and while many of them are harmless, some almost certainly will be less than savoury.
Does it promote stalking?
Live Map provides any Facebook user with an insight into the personal lives of those who choose to stream, which naturally raises the issue of stalking, or at the very least, an unhealthy method of procrastination.
Ashley Feinberg from Gizmodo already discussed her experience of six hours of stalking random people on Facebook Live Map just by clicking random blue dots scattered around the Live Map, describing the experience as “nearly impossible to stop.”
Whether the stalking is just an innocent form of procrastination, or something more sinister, Live Map caters for all, allowing those who use the Live Map service to search for people who are broadcasting near their own location.
Many Facebook users simply don’t know how to work their privacy settings. Despite constant reminders and tutorials from sites like ours, many have their privacy options wide open, allowing any person on Facebook to pry into their personal lives and see whatever they upload.
The same is likely to happen with Facebook Live Map, where many will create live streams unaware that unless the appropriate privacy settings are applied, their live streams will be broadcast to everyone, who can watch exactly what they are doing.
This gives rise to people inadvertently broadcasting details about themselves that should really be kept private. Just like many Facebook users continue to post ill-advised status updates and photos with the privacy setting set to public, live streaming is basically another way people can misunderstand or blithely ignore those ever important privacy settings.
Perhaps one of the biggest threats opened up by live streaming is that is opens up another way for identity thieves to capture information from potential targets.
As we mention above, many will likely be unaware of their privacy settings, or even if they are, unaware of what information they should and should not be sharing with the entire Facebook community.
Facebook is already a treasure trove for all kinds of criminals, including identity thieves. Facebook, after all, is the place we go to share information with one another. Live Map is another conduit for sharing such information, and it is likely that identity thieves will be keeping their eyes on those live streams looking for people to share too much information about themselves.
Most of these problems we discuss here are problems that can be attributed to any live streaming service. But there the difference is that Facebook are bringing live streaming to the masses, making it more accessible to so many more people. And with that comes the potential for privacy failure on a much broader level.
Facebook Live Map promises to be a huge deal in the video streaming world. As for the pitfalls its users will face in the future, we’ll just have to wait and see.