Step aside ‘selfies’—Twitter has just launched Periscope, it’s new app that lets users live-stream video of themselves doing… well, pretty much whatever a person wants. The potential for Periscope is vast. The question is whether anyone wants, or is ready for, all its possible uses.
Periscope is Twitter’s challenge to the live streaming app Meerkat. Meerkat also lets users transmit their own live video broadcasts. Meerkat, which only launched this month, became a sensation in a matter of days, almost immediately breaking the top 25 of the world’s most popular social apps, says mobile analytics firm App Annie.
Its popularity certainly got Twitter’s attention. With Periscope in development, the company quickly moved to handicap Meerkat by cutting off access to the Twitter social graph. That means a user’s Twitter followers will no longer appear automatically in Meerkat.
Now, Periscope has finally made its debut, offering an equivalent experience—except, of course, better because of the Twitter integration. If Periscope takes off as quickly as Meerkat, and all signs say it will, millions of people around the world will soon be broadcasting live, personal videos into the Twitter stream.
Periscope is certain to be a huge hit for watching live steams from celebrities and athletes, news events, and the like. But it doesn’t take much thought to imagine the inappropriate scenarios that could come from such technology. Of course using Periscope for pornography, or to broadcast copyrighted material (Periscope the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight anyone?), or to film illegal activities is against the rules.
But how exactly can such things be monitored? Videos will stream live. Anyone who sees them can’t erase the memory, and by the time Twitter was notified of abuse the stream would likely be gone. There are certainly no conceivable safeties to stop someone from live streaming footage of someone else without their permission or even knowledge.
This makes misuse of Periscope potentially much worse than is currently possible, like posting pictures of one’s privates or videos of copyrighted NFL games.
Aside from the perverts out there, how interested will Twitter users really be in watching live video of someone’s dog, or any other aspects of the minutia of daily life? The live streaming app Justin.tv learned this the hard way. It broadcast a 24/7 life feed Justin Kan’s daily life. And it was a flop.
Kan said in a recent interview, “We weren’t able to retain an audience because, really, we just weren’t that interesting.” Which is precisely the point. Most of us aren’t. And the things people will have to do to make themselves interesting are frightening to even think about—let alone watch.