Instagram is rolling out its version of live video today, allowing users to begin a broadcast from the stories camera and interact with their followers on the service. Viewers can add comments and send unlimited hearts. But unlike most takes on live video, Instagram’s is completely ephemeral: as soon as the video ends, it disappears, and is unavailable for further viewing.
That twist makes live video on Instagram a departure from the version implemented earlier this year by its parent company, Facebook — and also by Twitter’s Periscope, both of which host broadcasts permanently. (Periscopes initially were deleted after 24 hours.) The app it most resembles is Meerkat, which helped popularize live-streaming in the United States with an approach that also made replays unavailable.
The feature looks slightly different than it did when we reported on its existence last month — and going live no longer requires you to tap a button that says “Go Insta!” Kevin Weil, Instagram’s head of product, says making the broadcasts ephemeral is designed to make people feel at ease in a medium that can often feel intimidating. “You can be comfortable because you know they’re not going to stick around,” he said of the live broadcasts.
Shilpa Sarkar, the product manager for Instagram live, said the team drew inspiration from the way live video has emerged as a way that young people spend time together. “The use case that caught our attention was people just hanging out on live, particularly young people,” she said. “After school, they jump on a livestream and hang out. That use of live is particularly interesting to us.”