As I mentioned in an earlier post, the human rights group WITNESS is piloting a new "Human Rights Video Hub" in association with international blog aggregator Global Voices Online. Their first efforts focus on a police shooting in Malaysia and a series of protests in China. After participating in some of the initial consultations on how to set up an effective human rights video hub, it will be interesting to see how this project plays out in the real world.
I'm particularly concerned about public commenting on these videos. You can already see on the You Tube page of the Malaysian video some potentially offensive and even re-victimizing messages emerging from the open comments feature that many online video hosting sites support.
What is the useful purpose served for someone to risk beating, imprisonment and even death to film a human rights violation and then have random surfers post comments like "ur filming sux like shit!" and " u had such a good chance... what a waste.... sigh.. your hand shaking or what??"
Even worse, you could have a debate rage in the comments section between government apologists and protestors, or between different factions on a particular political issue. At what point will this create more heat than light?
This is perhaps an acceptable risk. A few hurtful words is still better than imprisonment or a beating. Still people posting content on sites like You Tube need to be prepared for the potential backlash.
Kudos to Global Voices and WITNESS for initiating this. Let a thousand human rights monitoring cameraphones bloom!