The War of Art - Facebook Cuts Off Prisma's Live Video Access



Style transfer app Prisma is an unassuming but fairly nifty little app that allows you to transfer the style of famous artists' paintings onto your own photos. This is a common feature in many photo editing apps, but Prisma has acquired a decent following, demonstrating people's inexhaustible desire to see the classically beautiful features of their own face displayed in the elegant style of a lost master that it so clearly deserves. However, despite making strides, the app has been been stopped in its tracks by Facebook's decision to cut off their access to the social media behemoth's Live API.

The huge curve from Facebook comes after Prisma had just implemented a feature into their iOS app whereby users could live stream with the painting style transfer active using the relatively new Facebook Live video broadcast tool. TechCrunch reported that Facebook smited Prisma by letting them know that:

"Your app streams video from a mobile device camera, which can already be done through the Facebook app. The Live Video API is meant to let people publish live video content from other sources such as professional cameras, multi-camera setups, games or screencasts."

However, Facebook's API FAQ doesn't state that the API is only for the use of standalone cameras. In fact, it actually says the API can aid streaming from "any camera," and "more than just a smartphone," which seems to imply that a smartphone could be used if you're a peasant and you don't have a dedicated video setup for livestreaming your every waking moment. The API FAQ also mentions how it can be used for special effects, something that Prisma's style transfer definitely falls under.

Img source: The Next Web

So why are Facebook so desperate to ban Prisma if they're not even breaking any rules? Well, coincidentally, Facebook has just previewed art-style transfer video filters to add to its already burgeoning selection of filters for live videos. An outside observer may be inclined to think that Facebook has simply decided to block off a competitor, denying them access to their resources whilst pumping out a similar product, as has been seen again and again in the tech industry. But that would just be cynical, right?

Rolling out photo filters and lenses has been a big part of Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp's ongoing strategy to challenge Snapchat. Snapchat has a massive userbase of its own, so they can't just shunt it out using a ToS technicality, and instead they have gone down the route of aping all of their features. From introducing Instagram stories, to masquerade lenses, to their ongoing messenger battles, the two titans have been locking horns for a while now. Anything Facebook can take to give them an edge, they will use, even it means forcing out a competitor, or sometimes allowing them access.

It's a shame, because Prisma's filters are actually really quite pleasant, unlike the tacky Photoshop-filters-from-a-decade-ago look that a lot of similar services take up. This artistic aptitude led to the app going viral, racking up 70 million downloads since its launch in June. Nevertheless, there's no room to take time to smell the Van Gogh pink roses in the dog-eat-dog tech world. Prisma will have to adapt to survive, and here's hoping they can do so.

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