Twitter Inc has a major opportunity in video and the firm, with its Vine, Periscope and Twitter platforms, is pushing to clear a space for itself in the market. This morning, after the horrific events in Virginia on Wednesday, has seen outcry against the way the firm delivers its footage. Thousands of unwilling Twitter users watched a murder live on their screens.
Tom Warren, senior editor at The Verge said “Twitter and Facebook autoplay videos made me witness the murder of someone from multiple angles today. Good job technology.” Twitter plays videos that people post without warning. Though the sound it blocked, making the experience less jarring, the awful images of a live murder were there for all to see.
Twitter can’t control its content
In isolated events Twitter is able to block content that appears on its service, but when mass hysteria breaks out over a news story like the shooting of Alison Parker and Adam Ward, the firm doesn’t have the tech to stop uploads from so many different sources and so many different angles.
William de Lannoy of Noble People spoke to the New York Post about the videos. He said “To prevent this, you would have needed a computer that can take a dark, blurry thing and somehow figure out it’s a gun with someone holding the trigger.”
Right now Facebook Inc isn’t even able to figure out if the content on its platform was stolen from Youtube, and it doesn’t seem to care. The Menlo Park firm suspended the profile of the man who carried out the shooting, but it simply doesn’t have the tech to make sure that the footage was removed from all sources.
Twitter is even further behind in terms of control of its content. The firm has not made the leaps in AI that Facebook has in recent years. That left it open to the kind of backlash that comes with the forceful presentation of a snuff film next to baby photos and Donald Trump jokes.
It’s not clear how many people saw the footage, but given the plethora of uploads, the common complaints, and the 300M users the site boats of, it can be assumed that thousands saw it.
Twitter needs video to work
Twitter is in the midst of a massive slow down in user growth and the firm is clinging to its video platforms for future growth. Periscope and Vine are both hoped to spearhead a Twitter run in unorthodox video content. Both are popular right now, and growing strongly. Neither makes the firm any money.
With its CEO missing and some of its recent product upgrades showing people actual murders, it might be time for Twitter to think about how it uses its video content, and how that impacts people.
Dick Costolo, the former CEO who left the firm on July 1, said back on February 14 that “It’s no secret and the rest of the world talks about it every day. We lose core user after core user by not addressing simple trolling issues that they face every day.”
Should the firm keep showing footage of violence to users, it may begin losing more and more users who don’t deal with a platform that might cause them grief at any time, just because someone did something truly awful to people they’ve never met.