On Wednesday, Facebook rolled out Facebook Live to all users. People around the world, for better or worse, can now live-stream at will. What’s more, those streams can found and viewed via a new live map of public live streams — and what a marvel it is to browse through all those streams.
Each public live stream shows up as a blip on the map. If a live stream is getting more traffic than the rest, it’ll have a larger blip, and it’ll emanate rings to let you know it’s popular. The more noticeable the blip, the more popular the stream. Also, when you hover over popular streams, new blips will appear to show off where people are watching.
Facebook says there are plenty of ways to “discover live video.” Live streams will now show up in both the Trending menu and in search results.
The Live Map is something altogether different, though, and not yet widely advertised. Hanna Kulin, a Product Designer at Facebook, took to tech service discovery site Product Hunt to explain that the map was “something we built internally at first.” Zuck and co. were watching on the map in the photo below. (I like to think.)
Kulin says they “found it so useful that we wanted to share it with the world.” And so they did. (Sort of makes you wonder what other internal products Facebook has that it’s not willing to share with the world.)
Most streams have somewhere between zero and nine viewers, but a handful have hundreds or thousands. The streams with scarcer audiences are the truly rewarding ones to watch, especially if you have a pulse and consider people-watching a worthwhile endeavor. Livestreams are almost inevitably awkward: people tend to manage monologuing for a few minutes, but, after those few minutes, seem to clam up. But Mark Zuckerberg finds this inherent awkwardness endearing and healthy. In previous discussions, he’s explained that the new levels of pressure on posting quality social media are getting exhausting. People torment themselves about “like” counts, anguish over their should-I-post-it decisions, and so on.
With live video, though, it’s au naturel: you can’t sugarcoat reality. Zuck’s own personal awkwardness is on full display, and everyone else’s is, too.
This map, then, is pure entertainment. It’s an incredible way to waste some time. Here’s what I saw on the Facebook Live Map in the 20 minutes I snooped around:
- someone breaking up marijuana in a $20 bill
- someone getting a haircut
- a room full of extremely bored girls
- someone streaming from Tromsø, Norway
- a woman telling the world about her clearance finds. “This one rang up 99 cents as well. So I got four of those.”
- many people showcasing how many dollar bills they have on hand
- bored kids at school distracting themselves and others
- someone smoking a blunt
- bootleg streams of soccer matches
- a man with a lazy eye in Charlotte, North Carolina: “I’m just excited about Jesus.”
- Jiu Jitsu lessons
- a man running a stream titled “3 gram dab” in British Columbia, who’s saying: “Always go and find the facts. And report on the facts. Because things are changing.”
- many a DJ
- a toddler hiding from her mother’s camera over a bowl of popcorn in Nova Scotia
- Australians getting drunk at 4 a.m.
- a very public arrest in Zanzibar
- a woman browsing Versace and Gucci products in Kuwait
- more blunts
- Blue Angels flying overhead in Texas
- more blunts
- another haircut
The Live Map is not yet available to all countries, and it’s not available on mobile, either. It’ll take a couple weeks, Kulin said, for some countries to get access. When that happens, it could become a powerful tool as major events or conflicts unfold around the world. You’ll be able to zoom in on the area and stream it live, which, all gags aside, sounds actually useful.
Until those events unfold, however, just enjoy watching humans in all their awkward glory.
If you’re on desktop and in one of the currently privileged countries, check it out: https://www.facebook.com/livemap/