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Design Studio Breaks Down Facebook’s “Freebooting” Issue

November 12, 2015 - Written By Matthew Humphress

Facebook videos receive over 8 billion views a day, and content creators on YouTube are furious. There are various grievances being leveled against the social networking giant, but at the center of the controversy is Freebooting. It turns out the majority of Facebooks videos originated on YouTube, and they have essentially been stolen from their creators. What is happening is that people other than the original creators are downloading videos from YouTube, and then uploading them into Facebook’s video service. Normally the video would be shared either with a link that would lead back to the YouTube page where the video is posted, or YouTube has implemented features which allow videos to be embedded on other websites. Using these correct methods allows views of a video to be correctly tabulated, which in turn allows the original creators to receive a share of the advertising revenue that is made from the video’s host (YouTube). In permitting this processes circumvention, Facebook is essentially making ad revenue off of stolen YouTube content.

Most people watch entertaining or educational videos online, and never really spend any time considering how this kind of content is created, shared, and monetized. As such, this entire controversy probably sounds a bit confusing, and maybe even silly.  Luckily there is an entertaining and educational YouTube video just for that. Kurzegesagt Projects is an animation and design studio that posts their work to YouTube. After facing this problem, themselves, they have created a video that explains the problem in a clear and stark manner. The video has over 1.3 million views and is really shining a light on this issue.

The Kurzegesagt video shows how Facebook Video is structured to encourage uploading videos rather than embedding them. Uploaded videos auto-play on the page as soon as they come on the screen, opening the video up to more engagement. Not only this, but a video only needs to play for 3 seconds for Facebook to count it as a view.  Favored engagement and easy views encourage dishonest posters looking to increase their social following to freeboot content. Facebook says they want to help fight this behavior, but the Kurzegesagt video is effective at showing just how much of an uphill struggle it is for YouTube creators. Facebook does not have an automated system for discovering intellectual property like YouTube has in place. Furthermore, videos cannot even be searched on Facebook, the only way a creator can even find their stolen videos is to spend time scouring the web for their ripped content, or hope that honest viewers will point out the fraudulent postings. The most unfortunate aspect is that generally by the time the freebooted videos have been discovered, and the creator manages to have them removed, the damage has already been done. Hundreds, thousands or even millions of views have been lost—stolen—from the rightful owner.