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How to start a Facebook Live video

Facebook Live allows you to share your life in real time with your Facebook followers.

Jason Cipriani/CNET
Now playing: Watch this: Stream Facebook Live Video like a superstar

When it comes to broadcasting an event or a random rant to your social-media friends, it might make sense to do it where you spend a lot of your time: on Facebook. Facebook Live is an interactive way to share what you're doing while you are doing it.

The feature was first announced in 2015 and available only to celebrities. Since then, Facebook has made it available to any user with an active profile or Page.

Here's how to start a Live video:

Starting a Facebook Live video on an iPhone.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET
  • In the Facebook app, begin to compose a status as you normally would.
  • On iOS, a list of options will show up below the text field, tap on Live Video > Continue.
  • On Android, tap on Go Live > Continue.
  • Give your Live video a title (e.g. "Playing miniature golf!") and set the level of privacy (friends, public, etc).

Once you begin streaming, an alert will be sent to your Facebook friends, notifying them of your stream. The top half of your screen will show what your viewers are seeing, with a control to switch between the front and rear facing camera in the top-right corner.

Drawing, adding filters to a Live video.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

The bottom half of the screen is where notifications of comments and new viewers will show up. During a stream, you can add filter effects to the video, switch between the front and back camera or enter comments in the text field at the bottom.

On an iOS device, you can also draw on the screen to illustrate or highlight an object to viewers. The drawing feature is missing from the Android version of the app (at least on my devices). However, Android users can send invites to specific Facebook Friends during a Live video, whereas the same feature seems to be missing from my iOS devices.

You can stream for up to 90 minutes before Facebook will stop the feed. After you've finished streaming, tap on Finish. The last screen will give you some stats about your stream, and then ask if you want to save a copy of the video to your device's camera roll and/or upload a high-resolution version of the video to your Facebook account.

Facebook will upload a copy of the stream to your account, where those who weren't able to watch it live can watch and comment on the video. Any comments a live viewer left will also carry over to your Facebook feed after the stream is finished.

Editors' note: This post was originally published in February 2016, and has since been updated with new information about the service.