Politics, meet Periscope.
The app was purchased by Twitter in 2015. Because the two platforms are interconnected, you can alert your Twitter audience whenever you’re about to initiate a broadcast. Here’s an example from a test I did last month:
— Daria Steigman (@dariasteigman) May 24, 2016
Of course, Periscope isn’t just for sunshine and baseball.
Periscope just had a very big coming-out party on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. Lawmakers who were staging a sit-in used the app to broadcast their activity.
Call it the Periscope workaround.
C-SPAN is the official broadcaster of the U.S. Congress. But a lot of people don’t know that the political party in power controls the cameras — not C-SPAN.
And when the House or the Senate is out of session, the cameras fade to black.
So you want to silence a protest? Go out of session. Cameras off.
Enter Congressman Scott Peters, who decided to “scope” the sit-in. A second congressman used Facebook Live to stream the sit-in. Both were technically pirated feeds, because congressional rules prohibit broadcasting in the House.
Here’s what Peters told Wired about his decision to use Periscope:
We were in a situation of civil disobedience… And the speaker was refusing to turn on the cameras. I thought the American public should have a chance to see the discussion that was happening, to see the frustration we had over not being able to have a vote.
C-SPAN picked up the feed and carried it live (and then even I was watching C-SPAN). Here’s Harry Mortman, C-SPAN’s director of communications, talking about C-SPAN’s decision:
What we did was unprecedented. We started noticing the video component of this on Periscope and Facebook Live, and we decided to show them live on air… We cover Congress and the big story unmistakably was what was happening on the floor. The only way we could show what was happening on the floor of the House were these media the members of the House were providing.
This is why you need to pay attention to livestreaming.
Technology doesn’t stand still.
The House leadership figured they’d just turn off the cameras.
They were wrong.
This is a political story, but this post isn’t about politics. It’s about the power of Periscope, and technology in general, and how fast both are shifting the ways we get our message out. And that’s a business story too.