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How To Share Protest Videos Safely

Our Faces Are Vulnerable

As a video creation and sharing platform, we love making and sharing video. It’s one of the richest most expressive mediums we have, and it’s an incredible way to document the Black Lives Matter revolution that is currently taking place around the world.

However, it can be dangerous to the people in the videos when you post them without considering their identity: both their face and the metadata of the video file. These two things easily reveal people’s identities.

Even if you’re not sharing videos of the protests you’re marching in, it is always important to get people’s permission before posting a photo or video of them online. Plenty of people don’t want their faces shared online for all sorts of reasons, and as the person behind the camera/phone, it’s your duty to respect that.

A photographer getting permission

However, this can be especially challenging in crowd shots. It’s probably not possible to run around to everyone and ask them if you can post their face to your social media account. So, here are some tips for that scenario:

Don’t Share People’s Faces

Use a tool to black or blur out people’s faces. It’s really important to sufficiently blur or black out faces so that the guassian blur can’t be reverse-engineered by an algorithm. tl;dr make sure to mess up the footage as much as possible to be safe. We used Video Mosaic to blur out the faces of protestors in a video made by a member of our community.

Since making this video, a new app called Anonymous Camera was launched by Playground Labs. It looks like a really good option for keeping your video safe. Plus, all proceeds from the in-app purchase will go towards @BlackVisionsMN and @UR_Ninja! Read the Verge’s coverage here.

Anonymous Camera by Playground Labs

Don’t share your own face

If you’re concerned about others getting your face on video, cover up. Sunglasses and a face mask are a good way to stay safe from the summer sun and the coronavirus. 😷

Photo credit: Nathan Dumlao

Remove as much metadata as possible

All videos taken on mobile devices have additional information attached to them called metadata. This can include date, location, subjects. When you upload your video straight off your phone, the video includes all this information.

Luckily, TRASH does not store original metadata, any video clips that you run through TRASH will not include this. We don’t share your data and take your privacy seriously. If you’re not sure about the platform you’re uploading video too, you should turn off cellular data & location services before shooting any footage.

Additional Resources

ACLU’s explainer on your rights for taking photos and videos. Worth brushing up on if you’re going to a protest. Additionally, here are some other resources on safe filming and sharing practices:

  1. The ACLU’s Mobile Justice App
The Mobile Justice app enables you to record and report incidents directly to the ACLU anonymously.

2. Witness.org

Visit their site for more safe filming techniques and tools.

3. DocNow

Visit their site for tools and workshops on safe digital archiving.

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