Russian app Prisma launched the ability to apply impressive filters to live Facebook video earlier this month. On the same day, Facebook revealed its own plans to bring filters to its Live Video feature “soon.” Facebook is now blocking Prisma’s Live Video access through the company’s APIs, and blaming the fact that Prisma is essentially duplicating functionality.
TechCrunch reports that Facebook told Prisma: “Your app streams video from a mobile device camera, which can already be done through the Facebook app. The Live Video API is meant to let people publish live video content from other sources such as professional cameras, multi-camera setups, games or screencasts.”
Facebook’s FAQ for its Live API does not explicitly state smartphone cameras are banned, and it even states “it allows you to send live content directly to Facebook from any camera.” Facebook also encourages developers to use special effects like on-screen graphics, similar to the type of filters that Prism uses.
Facebook’s explanation for the ban doesn’t really hold up to its own FAQ, even if the company is trying to market the Live API to cameras outside of regular smartphones. The timing, alongside Facebook’s own video filters, makes it appear that the company is simply trying to block competition by claiming a rival is duplicating its own functionality. It’s a tactic that Apple deployed many times during the early days of the App Store, preventing third-party browsers and email clients before the company grew a strong ecosystem and finally relented.
Facebook has been aggressively targeting competition in the social video sharing space recently. The social network has lifted many features from Snapchat and implemented them into Instagram and even WhatsApp. Live video filters are just the latest battleground for companies to convince users to stick to their app, and not the cool new competition.