Is Facebook Stealing moving media from web pages?

I recently has occasion to make a whiny, complaining, post on FaceBook about something I suspected FB of trying to do. Seeing as it was my post I feel no compunction about repeating (and maybe expounding on) it here.

The posting (from July 11, 2014):

Most interesting (and worrying):
I posted a link to a posting on my news blogging site. The post has a YouTube video in it as well as some textual and pictorial content.

After I posted I see FaceBook has given the link a sort of video playback graphic. Click on it and you get an embedded (in FB) video playback window … but nothing happens inside it.

Below I can see the reference to the two FB group feeds I posted the link to and it’s just a hyperlink. But above those two references is this not-quite-functional video window.

Aside from wondering why it doesn’t work (and how that negatively reflects on me / my site) I’m more worried another aspect about it.
It looks like FB is trying to make the video I’ve got in my off-site posting playable in FB without you having to visit my web site at all.

IF that’s what I wanted I’d do that myself.

BUT that’s not why I posted the link to the site and post. I want you to visit the site and read whatever there is on the page supporting the video.
I don’t have any advertising on my site right now, but if I DO try to have it pay for itself by having ads then an action like this on FaceBook’s part of this would mean I’d get NO site visit and NO ad revenue.
There is No possibility of someone clicking on an Advert they cannot see.

In the last few years many news organizations have been pissed at Google because their news aggregator allows visitors to jump right into the middle of a news site to the story they are reading without going through the ‘front door’ and having to visit at least one or two revenue generating pages. I’m not in that crowd – at least Google got you a visitor.
(when you see YouTube videos embedded in the Google News page that you can watch without leaving the page you have to remember that Google owns YouTube and the ad revenue gets shared)

BUT if FaceBook is trying to filch the media content from my page without the viewer ever visiting … that’s something to be upset about. On my part anyway.

Some of you might not care OR feel that I’m just whining sour grapes BUT when shit like this happens it makes us independent producers think twice about participating in social networks like FB or even trying to do whatever it is we are about.

Furthermore … IF this is what FB is trying to achieve then I’d be screwed no matter whether I’m a FB user or not since anyone posting a link to a story on my site that contained playable media might see the same result: FB filching the media content without any other part of the site.

There was a time when I transitioned from posting my videos to FB as well as YouTube or AWS to mostly posting links on FB. Because I felt that I was helping Zukerberg and company in some small way like an unpaid employee or volunteer. And I put in volunteer time with local groups that need it but NOT freely for multi-billion dollar corporations. And I don’t want to be involuntarily drafted into a volunteer for FB either.

IF I find this is what’s going on then I’ll have to see how much it would cost to have my site recognize FB’s spiders and bots and keep them out. Which would be a cost I’d incur to protect my Intellectual Property from FaceBook …

I hope this is all just a bad guess on my part. I really do … but what I’ve seen tonight smells wrong.

Well that was the original post. Unfortunately I didn’t think to do a screen grab of the failed video playback window …. but I did think about it in this next part.

Part 2 – Facebook’s different behaviour regarding Animated GIFs.

The FB post:

Somewhere along its history Facebook decided animated GIFs were a bad thing not to be allowed on FB. So people try workarounds with flash movies in SWF format.
I just responded in a private message to someone who was asking where my coverage of the Canada Day celebrations was. I found the posting on my site and passed them the link in a private message. FB then looks into the page and finds two pieces of pictorial media embedded in the text of the page. One of them is an animated GIF and the other a YouTube video. Facebook shows the animated GIF as the link’s thumbnail image. AND its animated!
Let’s see what it does here:

And the link followed normal FB behaviour – the thumbnail WAS taken from the animated GIF BUT it was a still picture.

To prove the point I got the Private Message up on the same screen and grabbed the screen as a video. Which you can watch below:

Ok, Google has settled in the attacks it got from European news organizations. You can read about that here at the Guardian.

As I mentioned above IF FaceBook is trying out what I think they are it’s a far more egregious violation that Google was accused of. Because of the wealth or material out there related to words in a search it is kind of difficult to find out if this is going on and if someone else has remarked on it.




About xamble

Most things I do involve computers. Nowadays that sounds stupid to hear because everyone uses computers. Except I was saying that before the IBM PC came on the scene. (hint: my first programs were entered on punch cards in an IBM-29) Now I mostly use them. Mostly to provide a community service in my small town. Because I could when it was asked and still can. And I'm a wannabe writer. Various books in various states of incompleteness. A few short stories. Might do more of that.
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