Facebook Enables Celebs to Webcast Live via Mentions App

This is a new live streaming service similar to Meerkat and Periscope, but it has an important differentiator: Only famous people can use it.

If you're a public figure, like The Rock, Taylor Swift or Barack Obama, you now have a new way to interact with your followers on Facebook.

The Social Network on Aug. 5 introduced live video interaction for public figures via Facebook Mentions, a new app that enables athletes, musicians, politicians and other influencers to talk with their fans and each other.

Mentions is a new live streaming service similar to Meerkat and Periscope in that a smartphone videocam is used as the creation device, but it has an important differentiator: Only famous people can use it for broadcasting on Facebook.

So anytime they want, verified public figures can sign into their Facebook pages, log into the Mentions app, start Webcasting live from wherever they may be, and deliver whatever message they want to their Facebook News Feed followers. We'll soon be seeing a lot of famous people talking live on Facebook from red carpet events, exotic locations—or even from their own living rooms and pool patios.

By the way, a public figure, as defined by Facebook, is a "verified account of a politician, actor, musician, athlete, etc." Thus Facebook itself, through its internal verification process, decides who can access and use this app.

If you think you qualify as a public figure, follow the instructions here, and Facebook will get back to you.

This brings the idea of mobile live video interaction to a new level. Followers can comment on the public figure's Facebook page; they can like or share the video while watching a live broadcast; and they can also see when friends or other public figures start watching the same Webcast. If users miss the live broadcast, they can watch the video later on the public figure's Facebook page.

YouTube, look out—you don't provide this kind of service.

As one might imagine, it is imperative that in rolling out a new function like this that a select audience be enabled, at least at first. Facebook figured: Why not celebs? The new bandwidth that will be used certainly will not be insignificant; it would be sheer folly to open such a feature to all 1.4 billion Facebook members. In fact, something like this theoretically could blow up the entire site within a few hours' time.

Early Webcasters on Mentions included Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Serena Williams, Luke Bryan, Ricardo Kaká, Ashley Tisdale, Lester Holt, Martha Stewart, Michael Bublé and others, Facebook said.

More than 900 million people are connected to public figures on Facebook, Product Manager Vadim Lavrusik wrote in his Facebook blog.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...