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San Bernardino shooting video showcases Snapchat’s quirks as a news source

People around the world followed minute-by-minute action from the shootings in San Bernardino on Wednesday, tuning in to their TVs, Twitter, news websites — and Snapchat.

Residents in the region used the smartphone app to share raw, on-the-ground perspectives. There were Snapchat videos showing police cars speeding by, with the sounds of gunfire in the background. Others showed students being instructed on lockdown procedures and people evacuating the area by bus.

Venice-based Snapchat compiled many of those videos into one collection, so users could conveniently access content related to the shootings in one place. The company declined to comment on viewership of content related to Wednesday’s shootings.

Follow live coverage of the San Bernardino shooting >>

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Snapchat has become a major hub for millions of people to share a variety of short video bursts throughout their day and has been moving to better organize publicly shared posts into easily discoverable groupings.

Often, the videos on Snapchat are better than what’s found on rival sites because they are quickly filmed and then immediately uploaded to the app. That has made Snapchat the go-to place for a whole generation to share things in near real-time.

But Snapchat has some quirks.

Viewers must have Snapchat to access the videos because the company contends the best place to experience content captured on Snapchat is on the app itself. In other words, you’re unlikely to find a collection of Snapchat videos licensed to a TV news broadcast anytime soon.

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If you look for the group of shooting-related videos now, you’re too late. Snapchat content disappears after about a day unless it is saved by viewers. The special collections in other social apps are short-lived too, but they are at least featured for as long as the topic stays “trending.”

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are racing to bolster their video capabilities. Each of the destinations for news, entertainment and chat generates revenue through advertising.

Facebook announced Thursday that it’s beginning to release a feature that allows users to broadcast live smartphone video onto friends’ news feeds. It just might be a step quicker than Snapchat, and the video will definitely be longer-lasting: They can be replayed forever.

Chat with me on Twitter @peard33

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