July 18th, 2012 | Published in Google Public Policy
YouTube is proud to be a place where citizens and activists come to tell their stories -- stories that may otherwise go unnoticed. A study released this week by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism found that YouTube is a top destination for news and that “citizens play a substantial role in supplying and producing footage.”
But this level of exposure can be risky to the citizens shooting the footage and the people who appear in their videos.
Today, we announced a new face blurring tool that represents a first step toward providing visual anonymity in video.
Of course, anonymity is never a guarantee, and people who capture sensitive video footage should consider taking other precautions to keep themselves and their subjects safe. Here are three suggestions:
1. Assess your risk. You and the people you film may face risk by posting video online. You may risk your own safety and that of your subjects while filming sensitive footage, during the editing process, and when you distribute your film online. After assessing the vulnerability you and your subjects face, you can make more informed decisions about when to film, whether to distribute your footage, and how widely you want to share it.
2. Consider other information which may give away identity. Video footage of your face is not the only way someone can detect your identity. Other factors that may be caught on video can also identify you or your subjects. Watch out for vocal identifiers, like recognizable voices or saying someone’s name on camera. Other footage can give away identity like a license plate, a name tag, or even the background scenery. Make sure that the imagery in your videos does not give away information about your location or identity.
3. Protect yourself when uploading. Consider, for example, local laws that may allow authorities to track the mobile device from which you upload. In certain countries, merely purchasing a sim card puts users at risk of tracking by government.
Over the past seven years, YouTube has evolved into a destination for citizen reporting. Along with curating projects like the Human Rights Channel and CitizenTube, we hope that the new technologies we’re rolling out will facilitate the sharing of even more stories on our platform.