Periscope and Meerkat take over Washington

New streaming apps will play role in 2016 US presidential race as contenders look to boost their social media presence.

Periscope live stream of Al Jazeera newsroom
Periscope live stream of Al Jazeera newsroom Washington, DC [Al Jazeera]

Just in time for the US Presidential campaign season, two streaming apps are competing to be the go-to place for 2016 candidates.

They are called “Meerkat” and “Periscope”. Both of them allow you to livestream anything, anywhere from your smartphone to your Twitter followers.

Created by a company called Air, Meerkat got a head start, launching in February. On Thursday, Twitter launched its own app called Periscope.

Already, the politicos in and around Washington, DC are vying for as much attention on them as they can get.

Last week, Josh Earnest, White House press secretary, did his first Meerkat interview. Or, at least, his yellow tie did most of the interview, since his face was partially obstructed by Twitter photos of the people watching it live.

Earnest said the White House is constantly reacting to “a very dynamic media environment” and whereas 12 hours was once considered a rapid media response to a crisis from the administration, that response now needs to be in minutes or seconds.

Under US President Barack Obama, the White House has been particularly social media savvy. Obama’s willingness to use social media goes back to his early days as a candidate in 2008.

Perhaps that’s why two potential Republican contenders for Obama’s job – Jeb Bush and Rand Paul – have already used Meerkat to give behind-the-scenes access at so-called “private” events.

But will these new apps change campaigns, the way blogging, Facebook and Twitter did? It is hard to tell at this point, say most analysts.

But Bill Schneider, professor of public policy at George Mason University, says one thing it will do is make it easier for voters to connect with the candidates.

“Long ago, political parties used to be the intermediary between candidates and voters,” says Schneider, a former TV journalist.

“When the power of party bosses declined, the news media played this role. Now social media are eliminating intermediaries altogether.”

Source: Al Jazeera