June 26, 2019 | 87° F

Students discuss pros, cons to livestreaming

Photo by Edwin Gano |

Photo Illustration | New mobile apps such as Meerkat and Periscope, which enable anyone with an Apple iPhone or iPad to share videos as they take them, can bring a new dimension to the technosphere just as easily as they can bring drawbacks.

Showing the world your friend’s new skateboarding trick just got easier.

New apps –– specifically Meerkat and Periscope –– enable anyone with an iPhone or iPad to share videos as they take them, actions that traditionally required setting up cameras and other technical equipment ahead of time.

Livestreaming has the potential to both help and hurt students, said Divas Singh, a School of Engineering first-year student. As with most other forms of social media, the results of sharing videos in real-time depend on how they use it.

“People tend to overuse social media, such as Snapchat,” he said. “They’ll Snapchat everything they do, so you can’t help but see everything certain people do. Livestreaming makes it easier to share everything one does to the internet.”

Misusing the apps has the potential for harming both a student’s and the University’s reputation, he said. If a video shared online clearly showed Rutgers property in the background, it could imply that the students in the video represent the University.

The University of Oklahoma is a prime example, he said. While the video featuring a racist chant was not a livestream, it still showed a distinct lack of judgment by the students in the video, and its contents are all many people nationwide now know about the university.

Part of this is because some news outlets will disproportionately cover negative events, Singh said.

Livestreams could also be used to illegally share videos of people without their consent, said Rahul Gupta, a School of Engineering first-year student. Rutgers Snapyak already used to share explicit photos or short videos of University women to anyone with access.

“There are so many issues with Snapchat, with people taking screenshots and then posting (them) online,” he said. “There’s a huge security issue.”

It would be “inevitable” that people would do the same with livestreams now that they are so much easier to set up, he said.

This could in particular be an issue for off-campus parties with underage drinkers, he said. While some organizations, such as fraternities and sororities, would likely be strict about drinking and videos, other party hosts might not be as careful.

“There’s definitely a possibility over the next few years (for) more apps that come out (that will) increase (this kind of) display,” he said.

In the past, illegally sharing videos has had severe consequences for students, Singh said. Students whose privacy is invaded in that manner could react very negatively.

Livestreaming could be used in a positive manner as well, he said. In classrooms, livestreaming can be used to help students who are unable to attend.

Bernard Kear, a professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, said it would be a “good idea” to provide absent students with another way to watch a lecture.

Sharing review sessions outside of normal class hours would also help students who are busy, Singh said.

Many of these review sessions consist of professors writing out problems on the board (for STEM subject classes), he said. Streams are an easy way to ascertain that type of information online before an exam.

Many of the events that the University hosts can be livestreamed to share with a wider audience, he said.

TEDxRutgersU, a TED event hosted in March, was livestreamed for people who were otherwise unable to view the talks.

Singh, who volunteered at the event, said that this event and other events such as one hosted by the Rutgers University Student Assembly, were good options for livestreaming. 

George Takei’s visit to the University is one example of an event that ran out of tickets, and by extension seats, very quickly, he said.

Politicians should also take advantage of their newfound ability to livestream –– even student ones, Singh said.

The Engineering Governing Council is holding elections for its board until Thursday, April 16th, he said. Though all engineering students can vote, few of the candidates have been able to speak to them.

“I think that’s more out of inconvenience,” he said. “Hopefully a livestream would have a chatbox so (candidates) could answer (questions in real-time).”

Both Periscope and Meerkat include chatrooms for each video, according to an article on fusion.net.

Overall, if used appropriately, livestreaming events cannot hurt users, and will likely just open up new avenues of social media sharing, Singh said.

“An in-person experience is nothing (like a live one), but we watch sports on TV and we don’t feel that’s different from going to the stadium, so I don’t think this would be different either,” he said.

Nikhilesh De

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