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Facebook launches live-streaming feature, but for celebs only

Facebook is following in the footsteps of live-streaming apps such as Periscope and Meerkat with the launch of a new Live feature, which – you guessed it – lets users make real-time broadcasts.

However, while the likes of Periscope and Meerkat let every Tom, Dick and Harriet hit the “broadcast” button, Facebook’s offering only allows celebrities and other public figures, such as athletes and politicians, to launch live streams. That’s right, if you’re a regular Joe you’ll be able to watch the live streams, but not make any yourself. Not yet, anyway.

The social networking giant announced the feature on Wednesday, describing it as a new way for “influencers” to “take fans behind the scenes, host a Q&A, share announcements, and more – all in real time.”

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Live works out of Mentions, an app released by the social networking giant last year aimed specifically at high-profile Facebook users (with verified Pages) looking for a more efficient way to interact with fans.

A live stream will show up in your News Feed if a famous person you follow starts broadcasting, and you’ll also receive an alert so you don’t miss it. It’s possible for viewers to like and share the stream, and also add comments. In addition, you can see when your friends or other VIPs drop by the broadcast.

Once a stream ends, it lands on the creator’s Facebook Page so followers can watch it later. Of course, if the streamer wished for it to be a purely live experience, or for whatever reason didn’t like the way their little live gig panned out, then they can simply delete it (and hope no one recorded it).

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Facebook is selling Live to its high-profile users as a way to “grow and engage” their fan base as they “interact directly with fans and other public figures, in real time.”

To get Live off to the best possible start, Facebook’s managed to persuade a number of well-known figures to take the new feature for a spin soon, among them Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Serena Williams, Luke Bryan, Ricardo Kaká, Ashley Tisdale, Lester Holt, Martha Stewart, Michael Bublé.

Video push

Facebook has been integrating all kinds of video features into its service recently, for example, adding support for 360-degree videos for a more immersive viewing experience, and introducing a “floating video” feature so users can scroll through their feed with a video still playing.

It’s also announced a plan to share ad revenue with video creators in a bid to encourage partners to publish more content on the service, a move that should theoretically help generate even more revenue for the Menlo Park company.