In September, Facebook announced Watch, a tab with videos created exclusively for the social network. At launch, it was pretty much of a mess of unsearchable viral content, lacking in any quality shows that might entice viewers to regularly come back for more. But it appears Facebook is gearing up to more seriously take on YouTube by amping up the service, sources told CNBC.
According to CNBC’s report, Facebook is going to expand its Watch tab by letting more creators upload videos to the service without Facebook purchasing the rights to their shows. Like Google’s monetisation structure, Facebook and the creators would then share ad revenue. This is a glimmer of hope for smaller content creators who were fucked over by YouTube’s recent changes to its monetisation rules, which made it a lot harder for them to profit off the platform.
But it’s important to remember why YouTube made the changes to begin with: In recent months, the video-sharing site has been embroiled in a litany of controversies, from disturbing content targeting kids to white supremacist videos. When one of its high-performing stars, Logan Paul, prompted widespread backlash by uploading a video shot in Japan’s “suicide forest,” that seemed to be the final straw.
YouTube has struggled to police content on its platform, and it remains to be seen whether Facebook will be any better at it. The social network does not have a promising history moderating its main platform. It has yet to prove it can moderate inappropriate and hateful content on the site, not to mention its consistent failure to scrub its platform of fake news. So why should we believe Facebook is more equipped to handle a deluge of freely uploaded videos?
While the endeavour is likely to result in more moderation nightmares, it does make sense that Facebook would want to figure out a way to get users to spend more time on the site. The social network recently made some changes to its news feed in pursuit of a stated commitment to more meaningful interactions on the platform, and in its latest fourth quarter report, admitted that its daily usage metrics were the saddest they’ve been since 2015. Mark Zuckerberg attributed that to Facebook’s decision “to show fewer viral videos to make sure people’s time is well spent.” So it should really come as no surprise that the company is going to expand its video tab in an attempt to keep user eyeballs on the site a little longer everyday. Come for the meaningful content, stay for the shitstorm of shows.