Tyrese Gibson is lifting the internet's most viral videos for fame and fortune.
According to Brandon Silverman, CEO of social media analytics tool CrowdTangle, the singer-turned-actor is ranked fourteenth in terms of most followers gained by a celebrity in the past year. Gibson's 10 million new followers beats out big name celebs like One Direction, Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Kim Kardashian, and Channing Tatum.
Facebook has been kind to celebrities like Gibson, who use its service as a publishing platform. International icon Shakira, who takes the number one spot for most followers gained this past year, has amassed popularity by sharing intimate moments from her life with her millions of fans, who in turn share those updates with their family and friends.
Facebook wants to be the dominant publication of the future
This is how Facebook's designers would prefer it: keep users on Facebook, rather than send them to external sites. Their choices are subtle, but effective. Just look at how Facebook displays native vs. YouTube videos: the former automatically play at full width in your newsfeed, getting more engagement and reaching a wider audience, whereas the latter display in a tiny thumbnail and have to be clicked to expand and play. Gibson, like Shakira and his fellow Fast and the Furious stars, many of whom also rank amongst the fastest growing Facebook personalities, has found success by exploiting this system, posting videos directly onto the platform. However, Gibson doesn't own the rights to, nor does he provide attribution for most of his most viral posts.
Gibson is exploiting Facebook's emphasis on embedded content
According to CrowdTangle, this is the fifth most popular Facebook post of 2014 with nearly 86 millions views at time of publish. The video is watermarked with the logo for ABC's America's Funniest Home Videos, but the footage is hosted on Gibson's Facebook Page. As for the link on the post, it directs to one of Gibson's albums on iTunes.
Gibson also published the seventh most popular Facebook post of 2014, another ripped video, this time of a man cutting shark pups from their beached, dead mother. The body text reads, "This is crazy!! Man Helps Dead Shark Give Birth To 3 Babies... Tyrese's last solo album #BlackRose' is coming! Like my page -> Tyrese Gibson".
Gibson's posts from the past months about his life and work range in views from the low thousands to a few million, but his flagrant theft of viral content brings in tens of millions of views and thousands of shares. Today, Gibson has over 22.7 million followers, making him more popular on Facebook than celebrities like Tom Cruise (8.7 million) and LeBron James (21.4 million) — though he remains a distant runner-up to stars like Drake (33.2 million), Beyoncé (62.8 million), and Taylor Swift (70.4 million).
There's no reason to believe Gibson couldn't have success on Facebook while giving proper attribution. George Takei, best known for the role of Sulu on the original Star Trek, has courted over 8 million Facebook fans by linking outwards to the sites and media he shares. Takei, who has been interviewed many times about his social media prowess, doesn't have the following of Gibson, but has no less used his considerable fan base to leverage his celebrity along with his fight for equality.
The difference between Takei and Gibson may seem small or petty, but content ownership, tangible or digital, is vital, whether its protecting owners' livelihood or their privacy. This week, Gibson published a video of a deaf woman hearing her husband's voice for the first time. The post has been watched 40 million times and received over a million likes, but it's unclear who made the video or who this deaf woman is.
Celebrities like Gibson (and presumably their social media teams) that steal content aren't just exploiting Facebook's algorithm; they're exploiting you. Gibson was contacted for comment via his Facebook Page, but has not responded at the time of publish.
Verge Video: Reviewing the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge