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YouTube star attacks Facebook's fake view count and stolen content

Facebook has been pushing its video platform heavily in the past year, implementing a new video player, silently autoplaying videos and changing the algorithm for native video to be displayed much higher up on the news feed.

Even though it is undoubtedly a growing trend, Facebook video still makes no revenue and according to Hank Green, co-creator of the SciShow, Crash Course and one half of Vlogbrothers, Facebook is lying about its numbers.

In a Medium post titled ‘Theft, Lies and Facebook Video’, Green states that Facebook’s retention rates are abysmal and they are lying to press and investors on video numbers. The current way to track views is anything longer than three seconds counts as a view, something Green sees as illogical.

Showing the retention rates for Facebook vs YouTube, at the 30 second mark Facebook is down to 21 per cent, while YouTube is still at 86 per cent at the same time. Even stretching to three minutes, YouTube holds 60 per cent of the audience.

Facebook also heavily promotes native video on the social network, regularly pushing it higher on the news feed while dropping embedded video. When testing embedded video against native, Green found that 20,000 to 50,000 people will see the YouTube video, while 60,000 to 150,000 will see the native video.

That is quite the gap. In a response post, Facebook product manager Matt Pakes said “Over years of developing and tuning News Feed, we know that clicking on a link to play video is not a great user experience, so people tend to interact slightly less with non-native video, and the posts get less engagement. Native video posts with auto-play tend to see better engagement, more watch time and higher view counts.”

The third issue Green has with Facebook video is theft, a major issue which the social network seems to be trying to cover. Citing a report from Ogilvy and Tubular Labs, of the 1,000 most popular videos natively uploaded, 725 were stolen from other sites. Those 725 videos accounted for 17 billion views in the first quarter, which is rather remarkable and dirty stain on Facebook’s video platform.

The current way to remove a video from Facebook is to show adequate proof that it belongs to you, but as Green points out, by that time the video is already popular. All the people that were going to view it already have, ruining the chance for the real content creator to receive praise for their work.

For Green, a successful YouTube creator, this is worrisome, because it shows a lack of compassion and thought for the creators of the video. He said in response to Pakes’ comment “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 wander into our rather lovely china shop without any thought to what interesting things might actually be happening there.”

It is not the first time content creators have been worried about their business being screwed over. Google has done this enough times to YouTube to make creators want to jump ship, but Facebook appears to be an even more incompetent giant for the people making those videos to contend with.

What’s rather striking from this article is the responses it is gathering from around the web. Hardly any popular YouTube creator wants to work with Facebook, having already been burnt from random Pages uploading their content.

YouTube has a Content ID system capable of tracking video and audio, and taking the video down if it looks or sounds like a piece of content already on the system. Facebook needs a system like that, but much more accessible to take down the hundreds of thousands of copyrighted videos and music being uploaded to Facebook everyday.