Dark Side of Incentive based Live Streaming Apps : Sex, Likes and Money

Internet is full of  the most provocative, suggestive and sexual content you can think of. But, this all is slowly moving to the app world, where incentive based Live Streaming Apps like Bigo and Live.me are playing major role.

A recent report by The Economic Times mentioned Bigo and Live.me in their list of most provocative and sexual content platforms. This is an issue which has been uncontrolled for some time and now has opened a can of worm for its stakeholders.

Many people consider it as a source of entertainment, these video chat apps have proved to be a boon because of their incentive-based revenue model and due to the use of cheap data plans.

Despite, the claims made by the companies, how content is shown on these platforms? What can be done to prevent such content from being streamed?

But, before that let’s understand What these video chat apps are and How they work?

What is  a Video Chat App?

If you just go to Play Store and type “video chat apps”, you’ll find a tonnes of Incentive based Live Streaming Apps similar to Bigo. All these apps are based on incentive based model. These apps look normal in the introduction and descriptions. But, when you start using these apps, you’ll get to know the dark side.

For instance, let’s take an example of Bigo Live app. Bigo live with 200 millions installs is available in 150 countries including India. You’ll get surprised to know that in 200 million downloads, 60 million are alone from India.

Video Chat Apps provide content creators the option to post short clips and live-stream at their own comfort from their living room. Since this is a very basic setup, you just need a good internet connection and a smartphone.

In terms of interface, it allows multiple users to chat at the same time.

Since this one is open to view the platform, so the content you create is accessible to millions of users. Similar video chat apps are Like, Vigo video and MEME.

Most of the content, what I saw on the platforms has been made by amateurs with Rudimentary production levels. Most of the content involves young girls and women lip syncing to popular Indian soundtracks, while others use comedy to engage the audience.

However, there is another segment of the audience known as the enthusiasm of content and the more obvious side.

As reported by The Economic Times, in a broadcast, a woman was shown eating a meal with 2,080 people at night, sending virtual gifts and demanding sexual nature.

It was said in reference to another channel that a woman has wear a white nightgown, which is lip-syncing of the provocative Bollywood song.

While surfing such apps, such type of content doesn’t immediately comes in front of you. Most of the time it depends on your usage and search history.

Most of these apps have search engines based on trending hash tags and browsing history. So, if you are looking for raunchy content on these apps, you are bound to find it.

Since most content creators are given beautiful remuneration based on the number of virtual gifts, likes and shares, they think sex is the best way to lure the crowd.

If this is not enough, then these apps send provocative notifications to users, such as “A sexy girl is waiting for you, match her!

Bigo - Incentive based Live Streaming Apps

In an interview, The Quint asked to Apar Gupta, director at Internet Freedom Foundation, on how such content ends up on such video platforms despite the company claiming to have strict laws against the same.

To which she replied :

I think it’s happening because of the incentive model that these apps have built, but it goes much more largely as the question to the company itself in terms of enforcement of the policy. A lot of times the enforcement is lacking and if it’s not there, then the platform itself will gain a reputation for a certain form of content and a certain kind of a service.

Bigo - Incentive based Live Streaming Apps
A Bigo Live Video Screenshot

In our research, we found that most of the users of these Incentive based Live Streaming Apps, are from Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities or from rural areas. Who do all this for earning some bucks online.

Tracking the offenders is a very hard thing, as anybody can use fake numbers and id’s to use the app.

How this can be controlled?

Let’s talk about the solution to this problem.

According to me, the app developers should use some sort of AI to detect nudity and sexual content in the live streams. Currently apps like Bigo live are using it, but it requires a lot of improvement. It should be made something like YouTube do to censor their videos. Also, there should be an option where user can involve in reporting the videos or live streams.

Please spread words by sharing it with your friends on social media. 🙂

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