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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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The end of live streaming?

20 March 2019

The events of last Friday continue to have deep repercussions on the shape and form that the internet may take from this point forwards.

Cries of outrage over the Facebook live-stream that carried footage from the gunman's own camera have rung long and loud around the world.

Facebook, YouTube and other platforms which support the world-wide dissemination of video footage claim they have done everything in their power to stem the distribution of this footage through their services -- but still there are powerful people saying that this is not enough.

In the wake of this... is the writing on the wall for live streaming via these platforms? Will Facebook, YouTube and the other social media which offer the ability to send video directly from your phone or webcam to the world, be forced to shut down those capabilities?

It is starting to look a lot like this might be the final outcome.

I guess if you can't burn books you can always ban the paper they're printed on -- and effectively this would be what a ban on live streaming would represent.

One might be tempted to say, as in the case of semi-automatic rifles "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few" -- and point out that nobody really *needs* livestreamed video anyway.

Well that'd be a huge shame because there are may instances where livestreamed video is not only useful but essential for the fomenting of open discussion and creating two-way engagement in realitime. For example, in a few hours time, I will be sitting on a panel made up of drone industry figureheads and representatives of the hobby. Every week we live-stream our discussion and invite feedback (in realtime) from viewers.

Their comments are acknowledged and their questions answered whenever possible. Sometimes, when a viewer has a particular set of knowledge or something important to say, we even get them to join the live-stream itself. This is interesting and valuable stuff that in no way challenges the morals, ethics, interests or beliefs of anyone else but it is helping to grow the drone industry and promote a wider understanding of the issues and challenges involved. We have been doing this for years and, in the process, amassed a healthy back-catalog of discussion and opinion that represents not only a valuable knowledgebase but great documentation of changing technology, opinion, regulation and understanding of the industry and the hobby.

There are also countless other livestreamed discussions, webinars and other interactive video broadcasts that take place through these major social media platforms -- and they would all be scuttled if live streaming were to be banned.

Such a ban would also become somewhat problematic... insomuch as Spark has just announced its new streaming sports service -- with some of its events (such as the F1 racing) being streamed live. Would that also be banned?

Or are we going to say "if you've got enough money -- it's okay to stream" -- in which case you effectively further erode the egalitarianism of the Net by creating another information oligarchy -- the very thing the internet was supposed to dismantle.

I'm sorry but whenever I hear the word "ban" thrown around I instantly become aware that someone is not trying to solve a problem but simply suppress the symptoms of a problem.

Whether it's terror attacks, offensive material or whatever -- the problem is not one of guns, live streams or whatever -- it's a much deeper underlying social issue and perhaps the most relevant word is intolerance.

Yep, most humans are simply an intolerant bunch of a-holes. When we see something different or find someone who disagrees with us our natural instinct is all too often to just push them away or shut them up. If they don't go away or shut up then we, sadly, all-too-often become physical in our response.

This intolerance covers all aspects of life. Race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, Holden vs Ford, Pepsi vs Coke. We can always find a reason not to like someone because of their origins, beliefs or choices.

You know what this planet needs?

A war with invading aliens!

I only half joke... because it really will take something on this scale to remind us that as a species, we share more similarities than differences. It's time to start celebrating the similarities, not arguing and fighting over the differences.

Until we come to this realisation then you can ban all the guns, shut down live streaming and do whatever you want -- but you will not quell the violence that intolerance begets.

And there endeth today's sermon!

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