One look at the recent VidCon conference should tell you that with the right gimmick and personality, YouTube is a great way to find Internet fame (and sometimes fortune).
According to one YouTube star, however, Facebook is not such a welcoming environment for video creators.
In a Sunday blog post, Hank Green (one of the three YouTube stars invited to interview President Obama earlier this year), accused Facebook of being dishonest about how it runs its video business.
“Facebook says it’s now streaming more video than YouTube,” Green wrote. “To be able to make that claim, all they had to do was cheat, lie, and steal.”
At issue is the difference in views one can expect from adding a link to a YouTube or Vine video versus uploading that video directly to Facebook.
“A SciShow YouTube video embedded on Facebook will reach between 20,000 and 50,000 people and be viewed by hundreds of people,” Green wrote. “The same video uploaded natively will get a reach of between 60,000 and 150,000 and be ‘viewed’ by tens of thousands.”
What constitutes a Facebook video view? The social network started auto-playing uploaded videos in 2013, which you can tap to unmute and view full-screen. If you pause on one of those videos for at least three seconds, that is counted as one “view.”
“YouTube, on the other hand, counts views in a logical way…the view is counted at the point at which people seem to actually be engaging with the video and not just immediately clicking away,” Green wrote. “This is usually around 30 seconds, but of course is different for videos of different lengths.”
This is important, Green said, because Facebook can inflate its video view numbers in order to sell ads. “When Facebook says it has roughly the same number of views as YouTube, what they really mean is that they have roughly [one-fifth] of YouTube’s views, since they’re intentionally and blatantly over-counting to the detriment of everyone except them,” Green wrote.
Green also criticized Facebook for not acting fast enough to remove videos that are uploaded by someone other than the content creator. If I uploaded Green’s video, for example, I’d get the video views rather than Green, which could be detrimental to his business in the long run.
Green pointed to a report that said 725 of the 1,000 most popular Facebook videos of 2015’s first quarter were stolen re-uploads.
The social network will, upon request, remove the content in question “a couple days after you let them know,” Green said. “Y’know, once it’s received 99.9 percent of the views it will ever receive.”
Matt Pakes, the Facebook product manager responsible for video products, responded in a comment to Green’s blog post.
He suggested that auto-play videos simply get more views in the News Feed, and that Facebook shows videos only to those who are likely to click on them.
“Native video posts with auto-play tend to see better engagement, more watch time and higher view counts,” Pakes wrote. “It’s a nuanced but important point: native videos often do better than video links, but this is because people tend to prefer watching native videos over clicking on a link and waiting for something to load.”
On view counts, “three seconds is one common choice, and gives us a consistent metric for all video on Facebook,” Pakes said. But “if a Page owner wants to see exactly how long people watch their videos, they can easily see that data without having to rely solely on the public view count.”
As for unauthorized video uploads, Pakes acknowledged that it’s a “significant technical challenge at our scale, but we have a team working on it and expect to have more to share later this summer.”
Green responded that he’s interested to see what Facebook has in the works. “But I have a lot of anxiety that the systems and culture that creator communities have built over the last ten years are going to be torn apart because Facebook’s bull decided to wander into our rather lovely china shop without any thought to what interesting things might actually be happening there.”
Avid YouTube users, meanwhile, may have noticed a new desktop player design, which includes a transparent control bar and new buttons and drop-down menus.