Millions duped by Facebook Live video

Yet again, a "live" video on Facebook has brought in millions of views and reactions to something which is not what it claims to be.

In the same vein as the "live" space walk that wasn't live - broadcast on 26 October on the social network - a video of a sky-high maintenance job has racked up over six million views.

The Facebook pages for Interestinate and USA Viral this afternoon each posted a video claiming to be of a lightbulb being changed at the top of a 1,999ft (609m) tower.

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It claimed the video was live and four hours long. It wasn't and isn't.


Not live, not recent

It's roughly 18 minutes long, but looped for four hours, a tactic used by the Viral USA page with the space walk video. Unlike the space walk, the video was not said to be from any particular body or organisation.

The earliest copy we could find on YouTube was published on 21 September 2015 at 16:38 UTC. It claims to be of an ascent of the KDLT Tower in Rowena, South Dakota, to inspect the antenna at the summit.

Facebook Live videos are a lightning rod for attention through users' notifications. Look at the screengrab at the top of the page: 251,000 reactions, six million views, more than 54,000 shares, and each one of those turning up in the timeline of other Facebook users.


Live video - risk and reward

Facebook has seen its finances improve on the back of the potential of live video as a revenue stream. It has recently begun advertising its live video facility on UK television.

The service has already had some big hits, such as Candace Payne's Chewbacca Mask and BuzzFeed's exploding watermelon.

However, live broadcasts of killings in France and in Chicago, USA, have highlighted the dangers of broadcasting online in real time.

The BBC has contacted Interestinate and USA Viral for comment.