YouTube star accuses Facebook of cheating to boost video numbers

Hank Green says social network’s attempts to boost video views are ‘based on lies, cheating and theft’

Facebook is “lying, cheating and stealing” in order to establish itself as the world’s biggest video website, a popular video blogger has claimed.

Hank Green, an American entrepreneur whose YouTube channelvlogbrothers boasts more than 2.5 million subscribers, said the social network was actively inflating statistics about how many people view its videos and willingly hosting pirated material so that it can claim to be bigger than YouTube.

He claimed that the social network, which recently claimed it was streaming 4 billion videos a day, is inflating the numbers in order to claim YouTube’s crown as the world’s biggest video streaming service. Green said videos hosted directly on Facebook are promoted more aggressively than a YouTube video posted to the social network, and that a Facebook video only had to be watched for three seconds to count as a “play”, against around 30 seconds for YouTube.

Facebook has since responded to the claims, defending its promotion of videos hosted on Facebook and promising to do more to protext intellectual property.

Green, who was one of three YouTube personalities chosen to interview Barack Obama earlier this year, wrote: “Facebook says it’s now streaming more video than YouTube. To be able to make that claim, all they had to do was cheat, lie, and steal,” on his Medium blog.

He also accused Facebook of being too slow in responding to pirated video content being uploaded, so as not to lose out on views. He said that the social network has no way to protect video creators beyond belatedly taking videos offline, unlike YouTube, which redirects video royalty payments to rights holders with its “Content ID” system.

“It’s a little inexcusable that Facebook, a company with a market cap of $260 BILLION, launched their video platform with no system to protect independent rights holders,” Green wrote. “It wouldn’t be surprising if Facebook was working on a solution now which they can roll out conveniently after having made their initial claims at being the biggest, most important thing in video.”

In response, Facebook said it took intellectual property “very seriously”. It said it had suspended accounts and improved reporting tools, and that it was “actively exploring further solutions”. The company is expected to introduce further measures to clamp down on piracy in the coming months.

A spokesperson said: “We take intellectual property rights very seriously. This is not new to Facebook. We have a number of measures in place to address potential infringements on our service. For years we’ve used the Audible Magic system to help prevent unauthorized video content.

“We also have reporting tools in place to allow content owners to report potential copyright infringement, and upon receiving a valid notice we remove unauthorized content. We also suspend accounts of people with repeated IP violations when appropriate.

On Monday night, Matt Pakes, a Facebook project manager, defended how the social network promotes its own videos over those from rivals such as YouTube. He said that Facebook users are more likely to interact with “native” videos, and that the three-second play count barrier worked for Facebook as a signal that users are watching a video, rather than scrolling past it.

Facebook has identified video – a lucrative advertising opportunity – as one of its major growth areas. It claimed to have 4 billion views a day in the first quarter of the year, up from 3 billion three months earlier, with most of those on mobile devices.

It is reportedly preparing a music video service, which would help it rival one of YouTube’s most popular uses, and earlier this year it allowed users to embed Facebook videos on other websites, as YouTube does.

“As video continues to grow on Facebook, we’re actively exploring further solutions to help IP owners identify and manage potential infringing content, tailored for our unique platform and ecosystem.””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,” he said.

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