By Seth Herschkowitz

Every week we publish a list of our favorite articles on human rights, video, and advocacy that have been shared internally by WITNESS staff. This week features the promotion of LGBT rights in India, the use of social media to uncover the mystery behind the downed Malaysia Flight MH17 and much more.

Sharing pictures of corpses on social media isn’t the way to bring a ceasefire – The Guardian

Suzanne Moore, award winning columnist for The Guardian, discusses posting graphic videos on social media of ongoing situations such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. According to Moore, inundating Facebook and Twitter feeds with images of mangled infants is not an effective advocacy tactic  for bringing about a ceasefire. The author suggests that diluting the entire conflict down to gruesome images lacking substantive context “devalues the currency of shared humanity.” Awash with comments and criticisms, the article has received over 800 comments in response. Here at WITNESS, we talk at length about the ethics of curating citizen video and have struggled with many of these questions ourselves. Check out our latest thoughts on these issues in this recent blog post by Human Rights Channel Curator, Madeleine Bair.

Image courtesy of Creative Commons

LGBT rights PSA in India becomes most-watched video ever produced by the United Nations – The American Bazaar

The American Bazaar covers the overwhelming success of a recent video produced by the United Nations on LGBT rights  entitled “The Welcome.” The short music video depicts a traditional Indian family welcoming their son after he arrives home with his boyfriend. The three-minute piece  has quickly become the UN’s most viewed video, receiving over 2 million views since it was uploaded in April. “The Welcome” does a successful job of subtly subverting expectations of a traditional Indian family in a playful context. For other good examples of advocacy video, check out the “video4change” tag on the WITNESS blog.

A Smartphone for Consumers Who Want Privacy – The New York Times

“Blackphone,” a new cell phone designed to bolster the owner’s safety and privacy was released this week for the price of $629. The New York Times gives an overview of the device which purportedly is “the first smartphone built solely with privacy and security in mind,” an item that could be very useful to human rights defenders working in places where their physical or digital security is at risk. The phone, running on a slightly altered version of the Android operating system, allows you to configure permissions for each app individually, giving the user the ability to choose the appropriate level of security for their needs. All of the data on Blackphone is fully encrypted such that if a someone else were to attempt to open the phone and successfully break through your PIN, all information contained on the device would still remain locked. The article also comes with a brief informational video on email encryption for your computer. For the full feature and functionality list of the Blackphone, check out the article on the New York Times.

Image courtesy of Nathan Keirn
Image courtesy of Nathan Keirn

How Social Sleuthing Uncovered Evidence of Surface-to-Air Missile Systems in Eastern Ukraine – Storyful Blog

Human Rights Channel partner Storyful publishes an exposé on the use of social media to uncover clues in the mystery downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine. The article contains a series of verified activist tweets, videos and images that played  key roles in pulling together the timeline of  events that transpired with the crashed airliner last week. This case is a prime example of how citizen journalism  can be used to fill in key gaps.

39 Pieces Of Advice For Journalists And Writers Of Color – Buzzfeed

This article includes tips from 20 esteemed writers, editors and reporters and provides a fresh look at the challenges posed to contemporary journalists and writers of color. The advice present in the story ranges from insights such as “Don’t feel like you have to do the ‘racism beat’” to “Malcolm Gladwell could write 400 words on a piece of toilet paper and get paid more than I earn in a year.” It is a powerful and helpful source of knowledge for individuals of color (or not!) looking to pursue a writing career.

Seth Herschkowitz is a summer intern at WITNESS.

Featured image courtesy of Jojo Bombardo via Flickr.

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