×

Democrats’ Gun Violence Sit-In: Facebook Touts More Than 3 Million Live Streams Viewed

Who needs TV? Millions of people tuned in to live video streams on Facebook and Twitter’s Periscope to follow the 25-hour sit-in staged by House Democrats advocating for gun-control laws that ended Thursday, a phenomenon both companies latched onto to hype the power of social media.

As of 10 a.m. Eastern Thursday, Facebook Live videos from 19 members of the U.S. House of Representatives had been viewed more than 3 million times.

“Something interesting is happening with Facebook Live that’s bringing more openness to the political process,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a post Thursday.

After the House went into recess Wednesday afternoon at the behest of House Speaker Paul Ryan, C-SPAN’s live feed in the chamber was cut off under Congressional rules, and Ryan (who repeatedly dismissed the sit-in as a “publicity stunt”) refused to allow TV cameras in. At that point, several members of Congress and their staffers began live-streaming video on Facebook and Periscope from their smartphones, feeds that C-SPAN and other networks picked up. The standoff spawned the hashtags #HoldTheFloor and #NoBillNoBreak, as Dems tried to force debate on gun control bills introduced in the Republican-controlled House after the June 12 massacre at an Orlando nightclub.

For Facebook, it was a moment that underscored its strategy to bring live video to the platform. The 1.6 billion-user service reportedly is spending more than $50 million in deals with media companies and celebrities to broadcast on Facebook. “Live is unfiltered and real,” Zuckerberg wrote. “It’s a way to share anything you want with the world using just your phone. And it’s bringing us moments we wouldn’t see otherwise — from birthday parties to locker room celebrations to late-night sessions in the United States Capitol.”

Viewers also turned to Periscope. According to Twitter, tweets from Representatives Scott Peters and Eric Swalwell with Periscope broadcasts had been been viewed over 1 million times and counting as of 8 p.m. ET on Wednesday; the company did not have updated data at press time.

“This is an example of what drives us,” Periscope co-founder and CEO Kayvon Beykpour said in a statement. “Twitter and Periscope take you where other cameras don’t — letting you experience breaking news through the eyes of those living it.”

All that said, the live video on Facebook and Periscope was low quality and lacked the context and commentary that TV news brings to the table. (Also worth noting: BuzzFeed’s video of an exploding watermelon on Facebook Live in April currently has been viewed 10 million times.) And ultimately, it seems certain that the sit-in would not have spread like wildfire on social media in the same way if House Republicans had not shut off TV access.

Pictured above: Image from the Rep. Eric Swalwell’s Facebook Live video

More Digital

  • apple AR patent application

    Apple Patents Gesture, Expression Tracking for Mixed Reality Headset

    Apple’s upcoming mixed reality headset could include a number of sensors to track the eyes, gestures and even facial expressions of its users. The company applied for a patent to track these kinds of inputs, and combine them with information gathered from outward-facing sensors for mixed reality experiences. The patent application in question, simply titled [...]

  • Natalie Portman Thor Comic Con

    Comic-Con: Marvel 'Shock and Awe' Strategy Dominates Twitter Buzz

    Disney’s Marvel Studios handily won the hype trophy from this year’s Comic-Con International San Diego. Marvel Studios — which returned to the 2019 Comic-Con stage with a chock-full Phase 4 slate of announcements — dominated the discussion on Twitter out of the convention, capturing the biggest volume of buzz for nine of the top 10 [...]

  • Nigeria’s Kunle Afolayan: African Audiences Shouldn’t

    Nigeria’s Kunle Afolayan: African Audiences Shouldn’t Be ‘Second-Class’

    DURBAN–A young boy from a middle-class home gets an unconventional schooling in the ways of the world when he’s forced to apprentice at a mechanic’s workshop in a rough-and-tumble section of Lagos. “Mokalik” is the latest feature from Kunle Afolayan, a leading figure in the wave of filmmakers revitalizing the Nigerian film industry. The film [...]

  • SAG-AFTRA HQ

    SAG-AFTRA Ends Long Strike Against Ad Agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty

    SAG-AFTRA has ended its 10-month strike against Bartle Bogle Hegarty after the advertising agency agreed to sign the union’s new commercials contract. The union instructed its 160,000 members in September not to accept any work for BBH, which had been signed to SAG-AFTRA’s commercials contracts since 1999. The strike came two weeks after BBH publicly [...]

  • FaceApp is displayed on an iPhone,

    SAG-AFTRA Warns Members About FaceApp Terms of Use

    SAG-AFTRA is warning its 160,000 members about the “overreaching and invasive” terms of use for the FaceApp mobile application. FaceApp, developed by Russian company Wireless Lab, uses neural network technology to automatically generate transformations of faces in photographs. The app can be used to make users appear older, younger, or change gender. The terms include [...]

  • J. Cole

    Apple Music Launches 'Rap Life' Playlist

    Apple Music announced the launch of “Rap Life,” a new global playlist focusing on contemporary rap artists and culture. It replaces the former “The A-List: Hip-Hop” playlist. Said Ebro Darden, Apple Music’s Global Editorial Head of Hip-Hop and R&B: “We flipped it to dig deeper into into the lifestyle [and to] keep pushing the culture [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content