Hank Green, creator of VlogBrothers and other YouTube channels, has written a Medium post in which he accuses Facebook of cheating, lying and condoning content theft in its efforts to persuade content creators to switch platform.

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.

The most damning claim Green makes is that Facebook effectively lies about the number of views videos receive on the platform by counting them while many people are simply scrolling past … 

NordVPN

Facebook recently defaulted to making videos play silently as an animated GIF as you scroll past them. Even if you don’t even pause in your scrolling, the video technically ‘plays’ for a couple of seconds. Slow your scrolling even momentarily and you hit the three-second point at which Facebook registers a ‘view’ of the video – even though the user didn’t even click on it, and there was no audio.

At that moment, 90% of people scrolling the page are still ‘watching’ this silent animated GIF. But by 30 seconds, when viewership actually could be claimed, only 20% are watching. 90% of people are being counted, but only 20% of people are actually “viewing” the video.

YouTube, in contrast, notches up a view only when people have watched a significant portion of the video, typically at the 30-second mark.

Green says Facebook also cheats, by giving native video uploads a far greater reach than links to YouTube videos. A Duke University study found that the same video posted on the same account reached 74,752 people as a Facebook video but only 13,184 people when posted as a link to YouTube.

Finally, says Green, almost three-quarters of Facebook’s most popular videos in Q1 2015 were stolen: reposted by someone who did not own the rights to them. Facebook takes “a couple of days” to remove them, by which time they have notched up most of the views they would ever have received if left up.

Worse, he says, Facebook has no way to compensate owners for those views the way YouTube does with Content ID. YouTube can detect the use of copyrighted content and ensure that ad revenue goes to the copyright owner; Facebook has no such system in place.

YouTube’s CEO Susan Wojcicki recently gave a little more information about the company’s planned subscription service, suggesting that video creators would do “better than ever” when both ad-supported and subscription revenue streams are available.

About the Author

Ben Lovejoy's favorite gear