Google has released a new tool on YouTube that it claims will be the first step in protecting activists from identification by their governments. This is done using YouTube’s latest face-blurring feature that allows users to conceal the faces and identities of people in their videos.
This move comes at a time where human rights videos are essential in creating social and political movements, such as in Egypt or Syria. Blurring the faces of protestors and dissidents can better protect their safety while giving them an opportunity to speak out and be heard worldwide. This is also a secure way for ordinary citizens to supply international news.
According to human rights organisation WITNESS’ report, YouTube is one of the first video streaming sites that offers the face-blurring option.
Users can easily utilise the tool before uploading their videos. Using Video Enhancements, they can preview their video after the application of the face-blurring tool before uploading. They can check the video frame by frame. Users also have the option of deleting the original file.
The face-blurring technology is likely to be similar to the one Google uses when they capture footage for their Maps or Earth application. Extended to YouTube, it remains “emerging technology” that may face issues in detecting faces in videos “depending on the angle, lighting, obstructions and video quality.”
As a sidenote, this feature is useful not just for dissidents, but also for any users who wish to avoid embarrassment or identification in their videos.
Here is a step-by-step guide for the use of this groundbreaking feature.