Google is launching a new easy-to-use tool for use on YouTube to help guard the privacy of folks featured in various videos. The tool allows you to blur faces out in videos, protecting the identities of people who have good reason to maintain some privacy. Might not make a whole lot of sense in the states, but what about overseas? Particularly regarding protests against various incarnations of tyranny?
Allow me to explain. It’s actually a pretty cool story.
Viral videos have been known to inspire mass protests and draw attention to goings-on in countries with less-than-transparent media outlets, but act as a double-edged sword. While such videos can inspire as they document struggle, they can also be used by oppressive authorities to identify protestors who then suffer a myriad of consequences, reports The Atlantic. Wanting to protect people as they exercise their God-given right to protest, human-rights group WITNESS released a report, asking big-name Internet media outlets to take steps to help increase privacy controls, specifically requesting they, “step up their efforts in changing privacy controls, allowing for anonymity and developing user and content policies that better serve human rights defenders.” They specifically noted that “No video-sharing site or hardware manufacturer currently offers users the option to blur faces or protect identity.”
YouTube has responded to the call, announcing today a new, easy-to-use face-blurring tool. Introducing it on YouTube Global Blogspot, they proudly declared, “YouTube is excited to be among the first,” to launch “face blurring – a new tool that allows you to obscure faces within videos with the click of a button.”
How to, via CNET: Simply go to the YouTube Video Enhancements page, wander over to Additional Features and there you will see something that says “Blur All Faces.” Click on “Apply” and you’re done. That simple.
Though this new feature will undoubtedly protect well-intentioned political activists, one has to wonder about the “new” double-edged sword that the privacy feature creates. Though I don’t question the importance of having this privacy tool, I do wonder about the less-than-ethical that reap its benefits as well. If revolution can receive a wider audience thanks to privacy controls, so can crime, anarchy, and violence of all kinds.