By Maria Dambriunas

Earlier this week we shared an introduction to Vine, an app that allows users to create six-second videos and easily share them online. Vine has quickly made its way to the streets of Turkey and Brazil where activists recently used the app to depict different aspects of protests. The following are some of the more powerful examples. (You can skip below to read 5 Tips for Using Vine in Activism).

In Turkey, some Viners shared clips of TV programming airing during some of the most intense moments of the social unrest, mocking the Turkish media for its failure to cover the story:

Turkish activists also used Vines to document instances of police brutality. This Vine, which was widely shared on Twitter, shows police spraying water cannons at a protester in a wheelchair:


Activists in Brazil have also used Vine to document police activity as in this example, which includes footage of a protester with the Brazilian flag draped over her shoulders, directly facing a line of riot police:

5 Tips for Using Vine in Activism

People all over the world are transported to Gezi Park in Istanbul and the streets of Rio de Janeiro thanks to this app. However, there are a few simple steps that activists can take to ensure they reach a global audience and enhance their viewers’ understanding of their Vines. Here are 5 tips for activists using Vine:

  • Share Vines on Twitter or Facebook. Vines can then be retweeted and shared, thus reaching a larger network. Sharing it in these arenas also gives the Vine a URL, which can then go beyond these social media platforms.
  • Tell a story around your Vine through social media. Vines are time constrained. There’s only so much anyone can fit into six seconds. Therefore, activists should use Twitter and Facebook to post messages the prelude and follow-up with their Vines.
  • Use a location when uploading Vines. This recommendation coincides with WITNESS’s #3 tip for filming a protest, “always capture date, time, and location
  • Add a description directly to the Vines. This way if the Vine gets shared beyond the original Facebook or Twitter page it was uploaded to, viewers will still have the original context to refer to. If possible, add a link to a blog or news article that relates to the event filmed.
  • Add a tag in the description to make it more searchable. I used popular hashtags such as #Istanbul or #OccupyGezi to find Vines from the Turkish protests. Use locations or hashtags that a large audience will recognize.

This widely shared Vine from Monday night’s protests in Rio de Janeiro follows some of these tips above including: sharing the Vine via Twitter, the use of a description that references the location, and the use of a popular hashtag, which enhances its searchability. In this case: “#VemPraRua” which in English means “come to the street.”

As a viewer and fellow activist who is interested in opportunities for citizen journalism, I’d like to hear from you: How do you think Vine can be used to promote activism and human rights? What challenges do you face with Vine? How are Vines successful in promoting your message?

Maria Dambriunas is an intern with WITNESS’ Social Media Team.

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