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Facebook’s newest live video hit: Livestreams of the Congressional sit-in

3 million views in 26 hours

Democrats Hold Sit In In House Chamber To Force Vote On Gun Control Legislation Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

The first person to stream the Congressional gun control sit-in used Periscope, Twitter’s livestreaming app.

But Facebook wants you to know that its Live Video service played a part in the sit-in, which ended today after a 26-hour stretch, as well.

Facebook reps say that as of 10 am ET, 3 million streams of the sit-ins, filmed by members of Congress and their aides, have been watched three million times. Yesterday, Twitter said Periscope generated one million streams of the sit-in; I’ve asked Twitter for updated statistics.

Normally, the sit-in would have been covered by C-SPAN, but when House Republicans adjourned the session once the sit-in got going, C-SPAN’s cameras went dark; C-SPAN eventually rebroadcast hand-held feeds from Congress, using both Periscope and Facebook.

Update: Mark Zuckerberg now has a list of 19 reps who streamed using his product.

Facebook is very, very interested in pushing live video — so much that it’s paying both celebrities and web publishers, including Vox Media (which owns Recode), to produce content for the new service. And so far most of the discussion about live video’s possibilities centers around entertainment, for obvious reasons.

But I’m skeptical that most people want to watch their entertainment when it’s live, except in very rare instances — like the Super Bowl, or the Oscars, or when someone jumps out of a spaceship. ("Who is Felix Baumgartner, Alex.")

The whole point of the internet, says me, is to consume what you want, when you want to consume it — not when a network or advertiser or giant digital company wants you to consume it.

Still! It’s very nice to have the option to stream something live, or watch it live. And it’s particularly nice when it’s about government and the people who run it. And those people need more cameras on them, not fewer — "the public's work should be done in public," as my as my corporate cousin Casey Newton wrote today.

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