Facebook makes reality TV its new weapon for web supremacy

Silhouettes of mobile users are seen next to a screen projection of Facebook logo in this picture illustration taken March 28, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 17 October 2018
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Facebook makes reality TV its new weapon for web supremacy

  • The company’s head of video Paresh Rajwat said Facebook Watch was now available across the world
  • MTV boss Chris McCarthy predicted that Facebook Watch was going to “create a whole a new genre of shared reality TV”

CANNES: Facebook said Wednesday it was reviving the pioneering MTV reality show “The Real World” as its secret weapon to lure viewers away from YouTube.
The social media giant said it was also trying to harness the formidable online power of the “cute kitten” factor with a new show called “World’s Most Amazing Dog” on its new Facebook Watch platform.
Users who think their pooch is cute enough to be a contender can enter audition videos from their phones, it told TV executives at MIPCOM in Cannes, the world’s top entertainment showcase.
The company’s head of video Paresh Rajwat said Facebook Watch — which began to be rolled out in the US last year — was now available across the world, with “the time people spend on it increasing by 14 times since.”
“The Real World” was one of the first “social experiment” TV reality shows when it aired in 1992, spawning others like “Big Brother.”
It turns on the moment when “seven strangers put together stop being polite and start being real,” said Facebook’s content and strategy chief Matthew Henick.
Three versions of the new Facebook variant of the show will be launched simultaneously in the US, Mexico and Thailand.
Users will be able to “co-watch with their friends and interact with the contestants,” stealing a march on its Internet rivals, Henick told the gathering in the French Riviera resort.
Rajwat said Facebook Watch was “completely open” and was already being used by broadcasters, with new contestants on Germany’s “X Factor” recently being introduced to fans on the platform before they made their TV debuts.
He said its interactivity means “watching videos doesn’t have to be a passive experience... with friends able to co-watch together in real time.”
A new service called “Watch Party” allowing “people to watch and comment all at the same time” has already been used on celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s “Veggie Challenge,” he added.
A Facebook Watch show called “Sorry For Your Loss” about a “young widow struggling to put her life back together has led to long meaningful conversations about dealing with grief,” Rajwat said, with many users “offering help to people who lost their beloveds. This is where Facebook is different,” he said.
MTV boss Chris McCarthy predicted that Facebook Watch was going to “create a whole a new genre of shared reality TV,” and help shows lift off when it was “harder and harder to break through with more and more content” out there.


News anchors join New Zealand women wearing headscarves for mosque attack victims

Updated 22 March 2019
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News anchors join New Zealand women wearing headscarves for mosque attack victims

  • The AM Show news anchor Amanda Gillies said the gesture 'shows we are united'
  • Newsreaders began broadcasts with Islamic greetings

CHRISTCHURCH: News anchors in New Zealand joined women across the country in wearing headscarves as a show of solidarity on Friday for the victims of last week’s mosques shooting. 

The newsreaders covering the memorial events for the 50 people killed by a white supremacist at two mosques in Christchurch, began broadcasts with Islamic greetings.

They included The AM Show news anchor Amanda Gillies, who said she agonized over whether to cover her hair with a peach-colored scarf.

"There's no way a week ago that I would have, because I would have thought it would have been deemed inappropriate, not right, that I was insulting the Muslim community," Gillies said.

"I'll be honest - I did angst over it today whether I should wear it, because I didn't want to be inappropriate or offend the Muslim community. But I know that they are so welcoming and accepting of it, and I know that a lot of women will wear it today because it just shows that we are united - the solidarity is there, the love and support is there."

Elsewhere, women across the country wore hijabs on an emotional day when the shocked  nation came together to remember those killed.

 A journalist wearing a headscarf as tribute to the victims of the mosque attacks uses her phone before Friday prayers at Hagley Park outside Al-Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand March 22, 2019. (Reuters)

Rafaela Stoakes, a 32-year-old mother of two, said wearing the Islamic head covering gave her an insight into what it means to stand out and feel part of the minority.

On Friday morning she covered all but a few locks of her dark chestnut-coloured hair in a loose red and white scarf, crossed neatly beneath her chin and tucked into a black hiking jacket.

She was one of many women embracing #HeadScarfforHarmony, to make a stand against the hate espoused by the Australian man who killed dozens of worshippers.

Headscarves were also worn as a mark of respect by policewomen and non-Muslim volunteers directing the crowds around the site in Christchurch holding communal prayers on Friday.

Many were wearing a headscarf for the first time.

"It is amazing how different I felt for the short time I was out this morning," Stoakes told AFP.

"There were a lot of confused looks and some slightly aggressive ones," she said.

"I did feel a sense of pride to honour my Muslim friends, but I also felt very vulnerable and alone as I was the only person wearing one."

"It must take a lot of courage to do this on a daily basis."

The gesture caught on nationwide -- in offices, schools and on the streets -- as well as at the ceremonies held in Christchurch to mark one week since the killings at the hands of a self-avowed white supremacist.

Women flooded Twitter, Facebook and other social media -- which played a key role in allowing the gunman to spread his message -- with their images.

Kate Mills Workman, a 19-year-old student from Wellington, posted a selfie on Twitter wearing a green headscarf.

"If I could I would be attending the mosque and standing outside to show my support for my Muslim whanau but I've got lectures and I can't really skip them," she told AFP, using a Maori language term for extended family.

"Obviously this is all spurred on by the terrible tragedy in Christchurch, but it's also a way of showing that any form of harassment or bigotry based on a symbol of religion is never okay," she added.

"As New Zealanders, we have to make a really strong stand."

Although the headscarf has been the subject of contentious debate over gender rights in the Islamic world, for Stoakes the day has been a lesson in how pious Muslim women often do not have the option to melt away into the background when they feel vulnerable.

"We can nod and pretend to agree with people who we are afraid of, or plead ignorance if we feel in danger of confrontation," she said.

"But a Muslim is just right out there. Like a bullseye. Their hijabs and clothing speak before they do."