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YouTube Suspends Account of Prominent Egyptian Blogger and Anti-Torture Activist November 29, 2007

Posted by James G. Milles in Citizen Journalism, Independent media, YouTube.
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From Sam Bayard at Citizen Media Law Project:

I’ve blogged before about Wael Abbas, an Egyptian blogger and political activist who has gained renown by, among other things, posting videos on YouTube revealing brutal scenes of torture from inside Egypt’s police stations. According to Reuters Africa, YouTube has recently suspended Abbas’s account due to complaints about the content of his postings:

Wael Abbas said close to 100 images he had sent to YouTube were no longer accessible, including clips depicting purported police brutality, voting irregularities and anti-government demonstrations. YouTube, owned by search engine giant Google Inc., did not respond to a written request for comment. A message on Abbas’s YouTube user page, http://youtube.com/user/waelabbas, read: “This account is suspended.” “They closed it (the account) and they sent me an e-mail saying that it will be suspended because there were lots of complaints about the content, especially the content of torture,” Abbas told Reuters in a telephone interview. Abbas, who won an international journalism award for his work this year, said that of the images he had posted to YouTube, 12 or 13 depicted violence in Egyptian police stations.

Elijah Zarwan, a human rights activist and blogger living in Egypt (and a personal friend), told Reuters that he found it unlikely that YouTube had come under official Egyptian pressure, and was more likely reacting to the graphic nature of the videos.

I wonder if the people making account-suspension decisions at YouTube realize that they’re blocking an important distribution channel for some of the most important journalistic work to come out of Egypt in years. It would be a shame if this is happening because of some squeamish and/or paternalistic YouTube users who can’t be content to simply turn their own eyes away. Then again, that’s slightly less disturbing than YouTube caving in to Egyptian government pressure. I’ll keep my eyes on this one.


More on the UCLA video and citizen journalism November 22, 2006

Posted by James G. Milles in Citizen Journalism.

This from ACRLog:

The Whole World is Watching – On YouTube

by Barbara Fister

Sometimes academic libraries hit the news in a big way. In the case of campus police using a Taser on a student in the UCLA library it even has become an international incident. As reported in many blogs and in Inside Higher Ed, this incident has not only has been widely viewed on YouTube, where as of this writing nearly 3,500 comments have been posted, it caused the Iranian foreign minister to pronounce it “a clear violation of international and human rights.” But it made me ponder some library and information issues.

First, libraries are places traditionally open to ideas – and to people who want to pursue them. Though libraries in urban areas have a legitimate need to control access for security reasons, including safety of their students and collections, it’s particularly shocking to have such a violent arrest result from conflict over someone’s right to be in a library. Whatever the independent investigation will conclude, it’s particularly distressing to see this happen in that setting that is dedicated to intellectual freedom and open access to information.

Second, there is a fascinating paradox in our information environment right now. The police have new powers and means to do surveillance. But while it’s more and more common in US cities to have public places monitored by cameras that can be controlled from police stations or squad cars, it’s also easier for citizens to whip out their phones and film police actions. There are over 500 clips on YouTube as of this writing tagged “police brutality.”

Just as read/write technologies challenge authority in projects such as Wikipedia and enabling library users to create their own tags for the catalog, it ripples out into other arenas. Big Brother may be watching, but we can watch back – and share what we see online.

YouTube at UCLA November 16, 2006

Posted by James G. Milles in Citizen Journalism.
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(Updated below.)

From The Chronicle of Higher Education:

Cellphone Photographers Capture a Harrowing Incident at UCLA

YouTube may help end the careers of a few police officers at the University of California at Los Angeles — and if it does, it’s unlikely that students at the university will shed many tears.

Last night the Daily Bruin reported that campus police officers had shot a student several times with a Taser after the student refused to leave a library computer lab. The article featured some strong words: A UCLA alumnus who witnessed the incident called it “the most disgusting and vile act I had ever seen in my life.” But what really struck a chord with blogs — where news of the incident has spread like wildfire — was a harrowing video recording made by a student with a cellphone camera.

The video, which was posted almost immediately on YouTube, shows an officer repeatedly shooting the student (identified by the Los Angeles Times as Mostafa Tabatabainejad) with a Taser as he screams in agony and rage and other students try to intervene. To say the least, it’s hard to watch.

The incident is, among other things, a case study in how quickly news spreads in the age of YouTube. Just as cellphone documentarians and online pundits helped harden resistance to Gallaudet University’s presidential-selection process (The Chronicle, November 10), outraged bloggers and blog aggregators may have turned the fracas at UCLA into nationwide news. —Brock Read

Update: The L.A. Times reports:

The latest in a recent spate of cellphone videos documenting questionable arrest tactics surfaced Wednesday, this one showing a UCLA police officer using a Taser to stun a student who allegedly refused to leave the campus library….

The incident was the third videotape of an arrest to surface in the last week in Los Angeles.

One video showed a Los Angeles Police Department officer dousing a handcuffed suspect in the face with pepper spray as the suspect sat in a patrol car.

That video came to light Monday, just days after the LAPD and the FBI launched investigations into another videotape showing a police officer hitting a suspect in the face several times after a foot chase in Hollywood.

Lucky Ducky, YouTube, and the Liberal Media November 9, 2006

Posted by James G. Milles in Citizen Journalism, Comics.
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Tom the Dancing Bug addresses the long tail.  “Lucky Ducky was obviously faking his head wounds.”

Wombat wisdom October 25, 2006

Posted by James G. Milles in Citizen Journalism, Digital distribution, Viral marketing.
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The Foundation for Global Community is using short, clever animations as a viral marketing tool to educate people about global economics, the environment, and peace and justice issues.  See what the wombat has to say.