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Facebook Starts Opening Live Video Streaming to All Users

No longer just for celebrities, Facebook’s Live Video feature is now available for testing by “a small percentage” of U.S. iPhone users, the company said today. Facebook launched its Live streaming feature in August for public figures with large followings on the site.

Celebrities who have sent out live broadcasts through the Facebook Mentions app since the launch include Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Serena Williams, Martha Stewart and Michael Bublé. Their videos are made available live through News Feed, and are then published to the account holder’s Page so fans can also watch them later.

iPhone users gaining access to the platform as part of Facebook’s latest test will be able to launch the feature by tapping “Update Status” and then selecting the “Live Video” icon. Friends and family members who want to know when more videos are added can tap the “Subscribe” button for future notifications.

More Sharing Features To Come

“Live lets you show the people you care about what you’re seeing in real time — whether you’re visiting a new place, cooking your favorite recipe, or just want to share some thoughts,” Facebook product managers Vadim Lavrusik and Thai Tran wrote today in a blog post. “No matter where you are, Live lets you bring your friends and family right next to you to experience what’s happening together.”

Facebook’s streaming feature works much the same way as competing video-sharing platforms like Meerkat or Twitter’s Periscope. People sharing videos via Live can write descriptions and choose their target audiences before launching broadcasts, and they can track the number and names of viewers, along with comments, while the video streams.

After a live broadcast ends, the video will be saved to the user’s Timeline, where the account holder can either delete it or save it so friends and family can view it later.

“As we were building Live we needed to reconsider the process of sharing from mobile devices,” Lavrusik and Tran wrote. “We are currently piloting a new design with a few people on iPhone and Android where they can now tap What’s on your mind? at the top of News Feed to see a drop down menu of all the different options they can share. This will allow us to include new sharing features in the future.”

Also Rolling Out: Photo, Video Collages

In addition to testing Live Video with a broader audience of users, Facebook is also introducing a new Collage feature for photo and video sharing. The feature enables users to group together photos and videos from their camera rolls into scrolling, moving collages, then share those collages with friends.

Collages are generated automatically from recent photos and videos based on when and where they were taken. Users can edit collages by adding, removing or rearranging photos and videos, and they can also add titles to describe the content.

The Collage feature is available for iPhone users starting today, and will roll out for Android users early next year, according to Lavrusik and Tran.

In addition to celebrities and online friends and family, some brand names are also experimenting with live streaming videos to promote their products and services. BMW and Benefit Cosmetics, for example, have used Twitter’s Periscope — with various levels of success — to drive online campaigns.

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