Facebook has made a feature that was previously exclusive to celebrities and public figures available to the general public — or at least to a few iPhone users who live in the United States — to let them live-stream video on its platform.
The feature is called Live Video, and it’s been used in the past by celebrities like Vin Diesel and presidential candidates like Donald Trump to broadcast to people who follow them on Facebook, almost like a direct-to-viewer news channel.
Now it will be available to anyone who wants to live-stream video to their Facebook friends. This not only bridges the gap between what celebrities and the public can do on Facebook: It also puts Live Video head-to-head with Periscope.
Periscope, which was acquired by Twitter in January, has always been available for anyone to use. Facebook’s focus on celebrities meant the two services didn’t overlap much; now they’ll have to compete for attention from the general public.
Live Video’s debut to the public isn’t the only thing Facebook announced today. The company also released Collage, a tool that makes it easy to share photos and videos in an interactive grid; and teased a new “tool built for mobile sharing.”
Collage seems a lot like the Layout app that allows Instagram users to create similar, well, collages. That app focuses on combining photos into a single image rather than grouping different media into one place, but it’s the same concept.
The new sharing tool is more novel. Facebook said in a blog post it’s “piloting a new design” that shows a drop-down menu when users tap the “What’s on your mind?” prompt at the top of the app “with a few people on iPhone and Android.”
Right now people can share status updates; photos and videos; check-ins; feelings; and Live Videos with the new sharing tool. Facebook says the update will give it the flexibility needed to “include new sharing features in the future.”
The whole thing looks a lot like Tumblr’s sharing menu, which asks people to choose among several different types of media before they can share something. That’s a marked departure from the much simpler mechanism available today.