Facebook Launches Live Stream Box Widget, Enabling Interaction around Live Streaming Video

In a posting on its developer blog, Wednesday, social networking company, Facebook, announced the launch of the Facebook Live Stream Box, a social widget that it says any Web site owner or developer can install in order to enable Facebook users to interact with and around a live streaming video event by posting Facebook status updates in real time: the users' updates appear live in a box next to the video--hence the service's name--as well as on their Facebook friends' home page streams. "You can run the Live Stream Box next to live streaming videos of concerts, speeches, sporting events, webcasts, TV shows, presentations, or webinars," the blog posting explained. "Or run the Live Stream Box in multi-player games, or with any other experience where many people are visiting a Web site at the same time." According to Facebook, Live Stream Box--which it says was inspired by the success of a test during the 2009 presidential inauguration that let Facebook users post status updates/comments side-by-side with real-time streaming video on CNN's Web site (the company says that the two-hour event generated over a million status updates)--can handle "millions" of simultaneous viewers updating in real time.

Once Live Stream Box has been installed on a Web site, Facebook says (the company claims that it can be installed on any Web site, within a Facebook page, or within a Facebook app, and that it "takes just a minute to set up"), users who want to interact with a live video event simply log in via Facebook Connect and begin sharing their updates. Each post they make includes a link back to the Live Stream Box, so that Facebook friends who receive their updates can also participate in the live event. The widget includes a tab that allows users to see updates from everyone who is posting on the event, as well as a filter that allows them to view just their friends' updates. Instructions for embedding the Live Stream Box widget are available at: http://wiki.developers.facebook.com/index.php/Live_Stream_Box.

In its blog posting, Facebook also touted a new service from live streaming video specialist, Ustream, called simply Ustream on Facebook, that integrates Ustream's live streaming capability into Facebook pages. The service--which is targeted at brands and recording artists, rather than at individuals--provides customers with various features in addition to live streaming, including a Live Stream Box and a customizable viewing page.

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