Twenty-four hours later, the cameras remain dead but the live streams keep rolling.
Democrat lawmakers on Wednesday planted themselves on the floor of the US House of Representatives starting at 11:25 a.m. ET (8:25 a.m. PT) to force a vote on gun-control legislation. When Republicans exercised their control of the chamber's official cameras and shut them off, Dems turned to social live-streaming apps like Twitter's Periscope and Facebook Live to continue broadcasting.
A day later, three Congressmen's social accounts were continuing to stream through the end. Rep. Eric Swalwell from East Bay, California is broadcasting on Periscope, and Reps. Beto O'Rourke from El Paso, Texas and Mark Takano from Riverside, California are streaming on Facebook. And C-SPAN continued to draw live footage from the floor from Rep. O'Rourke's stream.
Live video has surged online in recent years, helping to document and spread social movements like this week's sit-in and the Black Lives Matter campaign. Wider high-speed mobile networks and the improving audio-visual capabilities of mobile devices made the format accessible, and services like Ustream and Livestream provided a simple platform to broadcast. But live-streaming has blasted off as a mainstream tool in the last year after large-scale social networks Twitter and Facebook added ways to broadcast live and promoted the streams to their hundreds of millions of users.
Republicans like House Speaker Paul Ryan have derided the sit-in as a publicity stunt, and one thing is clear: It is indeed reaching the public. The 19 members who used Facebook Live hit a total combined viewership of 3 million in the first 24 hours of the protest, the company said. (Facebook counts a view after three seconds, including clips that autoplay in News Feeds).
O'Rourke's most-watched video on Facebook Live drew in nearly 360,500 views. Swallwell raked up 133,000 views on his most-watched Facebook Live clip, and on Periscope, 92,700 people tuned into his biggest live stream.
Periscope streams from Swalwell and Rep. Scott Peters had been viewed more than 1 million times, as of last evening, according to one of Twitter's official accounts.
Until its end, the House Sargeant at Arms Office allowed the renegade recordings to proceed. House rules prohibit video cameras on the floor, but members of Congress face no defined consequence for breaking the rules.
Update, 11:44 a.m. PT: Adds data from Facebook and notes end of the sit-in.