Social media giant Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) is testing a new section of its web and mobile sites that will provide a dedicated location for users to find, view or share videos with their Facebook friends. The addition lays a direct challenge at the feet of YouTube and puts other social media sites on notice.
"This new videos section helps people discover, watch and share videos on Facebook that are relevant to them," said Will Cathcart, VP of product management for Facebook, in a blog post. "It can be accessed by tapping a 'Videos' icon at the bottom of the Facebook app on iPhone or in the 'Favorites' section on the left-hand side of News Feed on the web."
The feature is currently being tested with "a small number of people for now" but Cathcart's post suggested that it will become more widely available eventually.
Other video-centric features being tested are Suggested Videos and a multitasking feature that allows users to watch a video in a "floating screen" while doing other things on Facebook, like taking a selfie of themselves watching a video while taking a selfie or… something similar.
Facebook is also bolstering its publisher toolkit, updating its Page Insights analytics section and improving video uploads. It's also testing a video matching technology with a few of its partners, Cathcart said.
Video is rapidly becoming a cornerstone technology for Facebook. The Wall Street Journal noted that its users watch more than 4 billion videos daily, and the social media provider is gearing up to grab a big chunk of the $200 billion that companies now spend each year on television ads.
It has also become saturated with pirated videos, particularly viral videos ripped from legitimate owners' YouTube sites, for example, and reposted on Facebook. That's a problem the company acknowledged it needs to address as advertising increasingly becomes a part of its video play.
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