FACEBOOK LIVE: Why is text backwards on Facebook Live?

Estimated read time: 3 minutes

You may have seen people go live on Facebook Live, and when they have text written on a board, piece of paper or their shirt that text often is backwards. Julie Perrine, who shares great tips over at All Things Admin, asked me why so many social media people are going live via Facebook Live and show text that is backwards. If the text is part of the show, that can be planned better, in my opinion.

Good question, and I noticed that before myself, but given that I hardly ever show text when doing a Facebook Live broadcast, it hadn’t actually crossed my mind to check into this. Thanks to Julie’s question, I set out to investigate. Of course, the easiest way to do that would be to go live on Facebook Live. I wasn’t going to make this too difficult and simply wrote “test” on a piece of paper to see when it would show up correctly.

Typically, when people go live they use the backward-facing camera on their phones. That’s the one right over the screen. I do that, too. It’s usually easier when you are talking to and with the audience. You can see their questions, comments and you can see yourself on the screen. So, I took the “test” piece of paper and placed it in front of the rear-facing camera. Here’s how that looked:

Facebook live backwards text

The “test” copy was showing backwards to viewers of my Facebook Live.

When I flipped the camera around by clicking that switch button in the top right corner, the forward-facing camera showed the “test” copy readable:

Facebook Live text not backwards facing

Related: Why to make the first public Facebook Live post worth it!

Of course, shooting a “talking head” Facebook Live broadcast doesn’t naturally make us think of shooting with the front-facing camera. And as an example of how easy it is for us live social media video people to not even notice backwards copy comes this example from the same Facebook Live:

I was wearing a Washington Redskins hat and was doing this test shortly before the Redskins were going to play the New York Giants in a quasi-playoff game. I mentioned that on the Facebook Live. Julie mentioned afterward that the letter R on the hat also was backwards. Of course it would be since I was shooting with the rear-facing camera. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t even notice. I was too busy blabbing.

Here’s the replay of the Facebook Live broadcast testing this:

Bonus tip:

Here’s an easy way to test anything in Facebook Live or Facebook in general. Change the status of the post or video to “only me.” Now you can publish and only you can see it. Just be sure to change it back to Public, Friends or a custom list later when you post the next time. Facebook will treat this as your new default setting until you change it, and you’ll wonder why nobody is liking your photos and posts. Because they can’t see them. 🙂

Doing a private Facebook Live broadcast