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Livestreaming Is All The Rage. But How Will Twitter Monitor It?

That remains to be seen.

Ema Woo/ Shutterstock

There’s no doubt that Twitter, despite all its positive use cases, can be a very vile place.

The company has struggled in the past to stop things like harassment and bullying on the platform, and last month CEO Dick Costolo sent an internal memo around to the staff saying “We suck at dealing with abuse.”

Those issues are still prevalent, and Twitter will soon have another, seemingly much more challenging type of content to moderate: Live streamed video.

Live streaming app Meerkat has taken off in the past two weeks, using Twitter to help people find an audience and share streaming video. Twitter also acquired a live streaming startup of its own, Periscope. Whether the product serves as a standalone app like Vine or gets baked into the main Twitter app, it’s safe to assume that live streaming videos are coming en masse.

Interestingly, Twitter bought Periscope in January and has kept it under wraps since then, so it’s clearly been thinking about live streaming for a while now.

Meerkat has relied heavily on Twitter to help people connect with friends and share their video feeds, and Twitter revoked the startup’s access to its social graph Friday afternoon, the same day the Periscope acquisition was shared publicly. It was an aggressive move by Twitter, but not unsurprising since it may soon have a Meerkat competitor on the market.

Competitive issues aside, the problem with live broadcasting is that it’s hard to monitor. For now, Meerkat seems to be working its way harmlessly through the tech circles, and Periscope is still in beta. But what happens when the products go more mainstream? How will Twitter monitor thousands of live video streams at once?

“I think [it will take] a lot of resources personnel wise and algorithmically to, if possible, try to flag content for human eyes as quickly as possible and limit damage before it goes out,” said Matt Zimmerman, senior product counsel at Twitter said on a panel at SXSW Saturday afternoon. “How that’s going to be done still remains to be seen.”

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