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Facebook's new live video feature makes groups for "parties"




NEW YORK (CNNMoney) – Facebook is trying yet another way to keep you engaged.

It's called the Watch Party, and lets people in Facebook groups watch live or recorded video together while interacting in real time. From today, everyone in a dog lovers group can come together to see clips of golden retriever puppies, while Anglophiles can relive the royal wedding.

Everyone in a group can start a Watch Party and designate co-hosts, which controls the playlist and playback. Everyone can suggest videos and a Facebook announcement tells them that a party should begin. Users can ask questions, leave comments or add real-time reactions.

"Looking at the same time, there is a lot more conversation going on," said Fidji Simo, Facebook's video director, CNNMoney.

It has the same interactive features as Facebook Live, its live video streaming tool. Facebook started testing the Watch Party in January. The feature rolled out all over the world on Wednesday.

During the test Facebook found some groups that arranged parties that ran more than 1

0 hours while people ran in and out throughout the day. It is also found that live videos generate an average of six times as many interactions as regular clips.

Facebook also tests the possibility that people can host celebrations with friends so they can say sharing holiday videos.

Facebook's continued live video efforts can help compete with Google's YouTube and live-streaming gaming platform, Twitch, said Michael Inouye, chief analyst at ABI Research. Twitch, owned by Amazon, has 15 million daily active visitors and more than 2 million unique broadcasters each month.

Inouye also praised Facebook not to force the feature on users. "If you do not want to do that, you do not have to engage and it will not change the way you look at content," he said.

However, Inouye did not list any content suitable for Watch Parties. Friends or group members may not be available at the same time to participate.

Although the social network hopes Watch Party will encourage people to spend even more time on the platform, the feature presents new opportunities for old issues.

Some people have used Facebook Live tools to streamlive violence, including murder and suicide. Simo said Facebook would encourage users to flag offensive or problematic videos while relying on more sophisticated tools. "We have also done a lot to improve our AI to flag violent content proactively," she said.

The company has seen some success with this approach. Facebook said it removed or alerted about 3.5 million pieces of violent content in the first three months of the year, and 86% of them were flagged by the technology.

Facebook also has a team of employees who review content and monitor live broadcasts when they reach a certain level of popularity. If a live streamed video violates its standards, the company will cancel broadcasting.

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