Facebook wants more journalists to use its platform as their distribution channel of choice. Now the company is giving reporters a new tool: the ability to stream live on Facebook itself.
Facebook said today that verified journalists, experts, and other “influencers” will now be able to use its Mentions app—formerly available only to select celebrities. The app will allow journalists to post live to Facebook during breaking news, for behind-the-scenes reports, or to host live Q&As with followers, among other possibilities
“We want to make Facebook a better experience for journalists whether it’s used for news-gathering or better connecting with their readers or to drive distribution to their content,” says Vadim Lavrusik, Facebook’s product manager for Mentions.
The Mentions app also lets users monitor what people are saying about them, follow topics that interest them, see what’s trending on Facebook, and have a greater ability to decide with whom they share their posts. These features were previously only available to celebrities and public figures, but now Facebook wants any journalist or expert with a verified Profile or Page to have access to Mentions. To get a verified profile, the company says anyone can apply, but only those who qualify will be approved. (Facebook didn’t go into detail about the criteria for approval.)
Facebook’s expansion of who can use its Mentions app makes a lot of sense. Reaching a live audience is becoming increasingly easy online. Mentions was launched in 2014, but livestreaming via the app only became possible last month. The timing is fitting. Twitter acquired livestreaming app Periscope earlier this year following the fanfare of competing livestream startup Meerkat. YouTube is beginning to take livestreaming more seriously, too.
But while livestreaming may be hot in Silicon Valley and among the tech press, it hasn’t quite taken off for most of the world. With its nearly 1.5 billion monthly users, Facebook may be in the unique position to bring livestreaming into the mainstream—at least when it comes to people willing to watch. Serena Williams, Ricky Gervais, and journalists such as Lester Holt and Al Roker have all used it to give their Facebook viewers behind-the-scene access—in a sense, to make themselves feel like your “friends.”
Facebook is hoping that by broadening the scope of who can use its livestreaming capability that more journalists will use its platform. If that happens, the news you see in your News Feed could become richer—and more real-time—giving you yet another reason to come to Facebook as the company seeks to make its platform your whole world.
This article was originally posted on WIRED