Launched in 2015, Periscope is a video streaming app that runs through Twitter exclusively (because it’s owned by Twitter). Viewers can see users’ streams live, as they’re happening, and also after the fact once the stream has ended.
Unless you change your app settings, each Periscope recording disappears after 24 hours, but each broadcast/recording can be saved to your phone. Once you’ve captured it, the Periscope recording can be published and shared just like any other video.
People are using Periscope for all sorts of things — things that are changing the world. Artists are using the app to connect with fans, activists are using it to call out inequalities, and stars in the online sex industry are using it, too.
Internationally known UK porn star and cam model Tanya Tate uses Periscope regularly. She broadcasts from tradeshow floors — and from her own kitchen while cooking a meal, giving viewers a unique taste of her real life. Though it may be onerous to get in front of the camera yet again on any given day, all of this is for a very strategic purpose: Tate’s Periscope videos get thousands of views and tons of engagement.
Periscope also can be a little dicey, though. The extremely social-media-savvy model Ginger Banks began using Periscope at its inception to showcase everything from trips to the store to walking her dog. Unfortunately, as an early adopter in a sexy line of work, Banks may have raised an internal red flag. Her struggles with account suspension and reactivation and re-suspension and on and on have been well documented on her Twitter feed.
Banks may have violated Periscope’s terms of service early on, causing the sex police to pay closer attention to her in general. Or, it could be that, as an early adopter who’s also a member of the sex industry, nervous attention was directed expressly at her when there were (relatively) few users to be paying attention to, and that attention stuck. Regardless, when comparing Periscope’s potential for good per Tanya Tate’s experiences with the frustration undoubtedly experienced by Ginger Banks, we’re left with an age-old question: Is the benefit worth the cost?
There are some obvious Periscope pitfalls and no-nos out there. For example, Periscope has a geo-location component that you must use carefully. And you should always be mindful of what you’re actually filming. If you’re visiting a public place with a lot of people around, announcing where you are is likely not a big deal. But if you’re Periscoping from a dinner date, perhaps limit the identifying details you include in the feed.
There are also limitations to consider when thinking about the content itself. What are you showing/sharing? Feeding explicit hardcore and/or overt nudity is on par with Periscoping from a large corporate-sponsored event — not allowed. As such, regardless how you feel about free speech or copyright infringement, you’re going to get tagged for infractions.
The infractions are themselves murky and likely selectively enforced. Consider Periscope’s list of Community Guidelines. Some are more obvious and straightforward than others: Don’t spam, don’t impersonate for evil purposes (parody accounts are probably ok), don’t hassle people who don’t want to be hassled, etc. The guideline regarding content that’s overtly sexual or pornographic is especially relevant and interesting, though. According to Periscope:
Do not post pornographic or overtly sexual content.
Herein lies the question: What counts as “pornographic” or “overtly sexual”? Chances are, that depends on who’s posting it. A sexy image in a shear bra from Ginger Banks will not be treated the same as a similar image posted by someone who’s not a sex worker. This is frustrating and hypocritical, but it’s also the current state of things. As such — put simply — if you want to use a free platform like Periscope, it’s best to err on the side of extremely vanilla.
If you decide you don’t like Periscope (or if you’ve gotten yourself permanently suspended), there are an array of alternatives to explore. The extremely comparable Meerkat and the relatively new Facebook Live (which works with iPhone only) provide similar service — but with platform-related differences and similar TOS limitations. In fact, given Facebook’s general pattern of sex-phobia, the company’ TOS may be even more intense that Meerkat’s or Periscope’s.
The choice of platform is up to you, but the decision whether or not you want to incorporate some kind of live feed into your public outreach it kind of a no-brainer. As long as you’re mindful of your privacy and safety and err on the side of content caution, there’s nothing but connections to be made via live-streaming apps. Just remember to stay savvy. That’s always the number one key!
Image via the Periscope blog.