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Why Facebook Hates (Some) Viral Videos

A Social Media Observation

By Alexander EnderPublished 6 years ago 3 min read

I recently heard one of my new favorite YouTubers, Drew Gooden, talking about a video his girlfriend tried to post on Facebook. She did post it, and it was quickly taken down, not by her, but by Facebook because the video had copyrighted music on it. The video showed her and her boyfriend on a racket ball court making ridiculously bad hits with aggressive rap playing in the background. The video wasn't making any money; it was just for their friends' amusement. Drew points out that, while his girlfriend's video got taken down, other accounts, monetized accounts, with millions of followers, put copyrighted music on their videos, and they don't get taken down.

Facebook isn't the only social media platform with this kind of double standard. Anyone can find examples where smaller accounts have their material taken down while large ones do the same thing with no consequences. Why does this happen? How would social media sites benefit from this?

I suspect it's for profit. It's obvious that these sites, which are, in part, advertising companies, would want to maximize their profits. But how exactly does taking down personal videos with copyrighted music further that goal?

It should be noted that there are copyright laws that could restrict the use of music on ANY video, regardless the traffic that the account sees. However, the issue is in the enforcement of these laws. It's up to copyright owners and platform administrators. The video I referenced was taken down by Facebook.

The answer I came to is that these decisions are for quality control. Most people posting on personal pages aren't going to spend a ton of time editing their videos just for friends' amusement. Some editing, sure, but not on a professional level. What people can do to easily increase the quality of a video is put music on it.

The video I referenced was funny, and it was shareable. Their friends would enjoy it, but it would be funny to anyone. That's where Facebook had a problem with it.

My theory is that Facebook wants to limit the "production quality" of personal videos, a kind of reverse quality control. Now the highest quality videos are those put out by monetizing accounts, accounts that make Facebook money.

One funny video isn't going to lessen Facebook's mammoth profit margin. Videos of cute babies and animals, people acting dumb and getting hurt, people with relatable messages, etc. go viral all the time and you'll often see these videos, posted by normal everyday casual internet users reposted on accounts along with similar content and with an ad tacked on it. There's a demand for such accounts, too. The same reason the videos go viral in the first place: it's what people like to see.

Social media, like Facebook, profits when advertisers pay them to have their advertisements shown. Both the advertisers and Facebook benefit from getting the ads seen by as many people as possible. The best way to do that is to put the ads where peoples' eyes are: on the viral videos.

If a ten second video goes viral and gets millions of views, that's tens of millions of seconds (nearly 3000 hours) of view time in which neither Facebook, nor advertisers, are making money. Although Facebook doesn't physically lose any money on those unmonetized videos, it doesn't gain any. But if half of the time spent on Facebook was NOT spent seeing ads, that would be half the profit. Videos are especially an issue for Facebook. While scrolling through, not really engaged in anything, your brain still takes note of advertisements in your peripheral vision. On the contrary, when you're watching a video, you are visually and aurally focused on one thing.

So take that video of a couple goofing around on a racket ball court but without the music. Their friends, the only ones they're showing it to, may still think it's funny, but it's not shareable anymore. Even if someone did share it once, friends of friends aren't going to share it.

Crisis averted, Facebook.

Thanks for reading.

Here is the video of Drew Gooden talking about it.

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About the Creator

Alexander Ender

College student writing both for the experience and prospect of a little extra money

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    Alexander EnderWritten by Alexander Ender

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