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YouTube: Marauder’s Map For War Criminals?

February 28, 2014

In a perceptive piece Christoph Koetti, emergency response manager for Amnesty International, USA, draws attention to the benefits and potential pitfalls of using videos uploads on YouTube documenting human rights violations, as evidence to prosecute crimes.
“Opening my laptop today in 2014, I have thousands of sensors at my fingertips, documenting war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria—an elaborate way of describing how I spend the majority of my time on YouTube in order to track the ever-escalating human rights situation. If Vietnam was called the first ‘Television War,’ Syria can indisputably be called the first ‘YouTube War,'” he writes.

Koetti says in an opinion piece to PBS’s Mediashift blog that the enormous number of videos taken in the Syrian conflict and their varying veracity calls on new skills to sift through them to establish what is authentic or fake. He believes that with enormous volumes of potential evidence ready to tapped, a single set of professionals investigating the evidence will not be enough. It should be, he says, a collaborative effort involving human rights researchers, journalists and technologists joining hands and by utilising cutting edge technology.
“Only specialized networks of trained volunteers will be able to filter out the level of detail needed from the overwhelming amount of video. We thus recently launched a sort of ‘Verification Corps,’ working with students to filter through masses of YouTube videos coming out of Syria for relevant content,” he says.
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Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.