Live streaming apps are an invasion of our private lives


The Appalachian Online

Matt Zothner

Meerkat, a mobile app offering real-time video streaming capability, is looking to take the digital landscape by storm. The app connects iPhone users to their Twitter accounts so they can watch and record live events as they happen. Once the stream is over, users aren’t able to watch them again – pretty much Snapchat in real time.

While this new ability is interesting, Meerkat and the similar competing apps are unnecessary and also a new invasion of our private lives.

The app’s popularity – it’s been downloaded more than 120,000 times according to the Wall Street Journal – shows that people are devouring live stream video at an impressive rate and according to CNBC, some users are watching up to four hours per day.

The competing apps include Periscope and Periscope was reported to have been acquired by Twitter for just under $100 million, according to, and is available to both Android and iOS users. The latter not only stores the streamed footage for another 24 hours, but connects to Twitter, Google+, Facebook, email and text messaging, according to Venture Beat.

The market for these apps is prevalent because people are able to stream real-time news, sports or anything else they want, for an audience that taps in from anywhere around the world. The potential uses range from the impressive to the mundane, including CNN-like civilian reporting to streams of a stranger’s cat.

Yes, these possibilities are intriguing, but the usage of these apps may lead toward things we don’t want to see – war footage, brutality and some occasional NSFW, or Not Safe for Work, streams.

There are many revenue-driven purposes that these apps may utilize, and I see advertisers jumping onto this opportunity in the worst way – please, no more ads. It is great to see the positive uses of these apps, such as Jimmy Fallon streaming behind-the-scenes videos of his shows or artists at the SXSW music and entertainment festival in Austin, Texas,  live streaming their sets to even larger audiences, but they may end up being another platform for narcissists and racists to post their opinions, too.

While Meerkat and other live stream apps may arguably become the closest thing to living real-time events without witnessing them in person, I question if we really need another social media outlet tapping into our personal lives, as well as trapping us further into the digital and “social” world that we can’t seem to get out of.

As with most social media, the question doesn’t remain on how or why the app will be used, but instead this: will the future consist of our lives being publicly broadcasted? Or will livestream apps become a fad of the digital media landscape?

Zothner, a sophomore marketing major from Cary, is an opinion writer.

Story: Matt Zothner, Opinion Writer