In the recent political crises in Tunisia, Egypt, and elsewhere in the Middle East – and before that in Iran and Burma – citizen video played a central role in mobilizing people within the country, informing the world about the situation, and feeding mainstream media’s need for on-the-ground stories. There is a blurring of boundaries between the professional human rights defender, the citizen activist, and the journalist; all are documenting human rights violations – and they are also aggregating, shaping, re-mixing and sharing the content of the others.
A world of ubiquitous video raises new opportunities to reveal compelling evidence and stories, challenge government propaganda, and galvanize local and international publics. It also raises challenges: how to protect visual anonymity, privacy and the safety of witnesses, survivors and human rights defenders, how to determine the context and authenticity of videos, and how to effectively turn visual evidence into real change. And – as video becomes the sine qua non of movements for change how do we ensure that those struggles that are less visible, or less photogenic, are not forgotten?
Building on the experience of WITNESS (www.witness.org) supporting people to use video to create change in policies and practices in over eighty countries this talk will highlight key principles of effective video for advocacy, emerging challenges and opportunities, and concrete next steps that technology providers, human rights organizations and social media communities can take to make the power of video-for-change safe, ethical and effective.