image via In a Nutshell – Kurzgesagt’s YouTube video “How Facebook Is Stealing Billions Of Views”
In the ad dollars arms race for a dominant video publishing network and social platform, it seems that mega-players Facebook, YouTube, and most recently Snapchat are releasing bigger, astronomical, and unfathomable numbers for most video views in any given period. Whereas YouTube boasts more than 1 billion users (and is slated to reach 8 billion video views per day), 11-year-old Facebook announced last week that it’s hit 8 billion video views — doubling from 4 billion in roughly 6 months. Days after Facebook’s announcement, Snapchat made one of their own: the 4-year-old mobile video app is now at 6 billion video views (tripling since May).
With these kinds of impressive video view numbers being generated and touted, video creators (many who stand to lose or gain significant amounts of revenue dependent on each platform’s policies) have delved deeper to provide insights on how these views are generated, where Facebook’s top viewed videos are sourced, and an inside look at Facebook’s copyright infringement process.
When Facebook first announced in July that it’d start sharing ad revenue with video content creators, VidCon co-founder and top YouTuber Hank Green took to blogging platform Medium to explain how Facebook was stealing from creators in article “Theft, Lies, And Facebook Video.” Yesterday, popular educational channel Kurzgesagt published an explainer video detailing the nature of Facebook video views, and the existing creator problems with Facebook copyright with the adjoining text:
“Facebook just announced 8 billion video views per day. This number is made out of lies, cheating and worst of all: theft. All of this is wildly known but the media giant Facebook is pretending everything is fine, while damaging independent creators in the process. How does this work?” – Kurzgesagt
Check out Kurzgesagt’s informational video below.
Kurzgesagt’s video begins by citing Olgivy & Tubular Lab’s summer analysis of Facebook’s top one thousand videos in Q1 2015. Out of the top 1,000 videos viewed on Facebook, roughly three-quarters of those videos (725) were stolen from YouTube and re-uploaded to Facebook representing a total of 17 billion stolen or lost video views for creators.
In order to achieve viral views for videos uploaded to Facebook (0:25), Facebook’s preferential algorithm skewers views towards Facebook videos (videos uploaded directly to Facebook) as opposed to links and videos shared to Facebook via YouTube.
In order to calculate video views, Facebook counts videos as viewed after 3 seconds (even if muted). To put it into perspective, YouTube calculates a video as viewed after 30 seconds and Snapchat, less than a second. As described in Kurzgesagt’s video, this means that Facebook is likely to attribute video views (due to autoplay) simply if a user is scrolling through their newsfeed at a slow rate.
Going beyond vanity metrics, Kurzgesagt points out what this 3-second view count looks like against YouTube’s 30-second view calculations: engagement, which requires action on behalf of the viewer, quickly plummets for Facebook.
Kurzgesagt prefaces the Facebook copyright problems facing video content creators with their own recent Facebook video evidence:
Re-uploaded/stollen Facebook Video Stats:
Kurzgesagt’s Original Facebook Video Stats:
As evinced by these numbers, Facebook’s preferential algorithm for its “own” videos overwhelmingly skewers both views and engagement. Lastly, the video closes by detailing the laborious and far-from-succinct process to discover/report/remove stolen videos. The main upset here is the inability for creators to search for their stolen videos. Unless notified by fans or followers, stolen content (and lost revenue) may easily go undetected. Due to a lengthy Facebook copyright process, stolen videos have oftentimes already reached “99% of all the views it will ever get” by the time it is removed.
Additionally, see Destin Sandlin’s (founder of top YouTube learning channel, Smarter Every Day) video “Facebook Freebooting” for more information on the Facebook copyright problem facing vloggers and video creators: