If you’re looking for how to film a livestream yourself, go here.
Viewers around the world are witnessing in real-time as hundreds of thousands of people in Myanmar take to the streets to oppose the 2021 military coup. Activists’ and ordinary people’s livestreams on Facebook and other platforms are capturing mass protests, arrests, and violence by security forces, and sharing them with the international community.
Help others by downloading livestreams
While these streams carry important information and evidence, streamers may have trouble saving copies of their own streams. They may not be able to prioritize downloading, have security concerns about holding onto them, or their internet may be throttled, making downloading slow or expensive. Moreover, videos can be lost if they contain violence and Facebook or Twitter removes them for violating policies. One way that people watching remotely can support streamers is to download and save the streams, preserving them outside of the platform and out of the reach of local security forces.
Young Protestors’ Strong Voice saying “Yibambe” which means “Strong Hold” in Xhosa Phrase. Junta only have weapons But we have Solidarity,Strong mindset and Courage. Let’s make them afraid. TERRORIST JUNTA #Mar1Coup #WhatsHappeningInMyanmar pic.twitter.com/sxRC2s8IOS
— Milk Tea Alliance Myanmar 🇲🇲 (@MilkTeaMM_MTAM) March 1, 2021
Solidarity with people of Myanmar.
Saving livestreams can be useful for preserving evidence of human rights crimes captured by activists, bystanders and even perpetrators of violations like police and the army, who may take down their own streams or have their streams taken down by platforms.
Maximize your efforts by coordinating with streamers and others around the world who are doing collection and preservation, as well as with advocates who can use these streams to support people in Myanmar. We don’t know when or how justice and accountability will be pursued, but we have learned from groups like Syrian Archive that video evidence can play an important role in prosecuting cases years later, and for historical memory and truth-telling.
Livestreams can be risky!
Use this guidance to support others who don’t have the opportunity to save their own livestreams, but remember that livestreaming carries risks for both the filmer and the people in a video.
Before re-sharing, consider who you are sharing with, how the video could be used, and whether you should blur someone’s face or edit out any parts that reveal people’s identities beforehand.
How to download livestreams and other videos from social media
These tips cover how to download livestreams uploaded by other people. For tips on how to save your own livestreams, check out this post (will be updated soon!).
Note: The tools we are recommending here are either tools that we use, or that we’ve heard that others use, but we cannot guarantee that they are safe. This is especially true for tools that are not open-source, since they are less transparent. EFF has a useful guide on how you can assess and make appropriate choices for yourself. One general precaution we recommend is running anti-virus software on your device.
Screen-record, if the stream might not be saved
Generally, livestreams can only be downloaded after broadcast, not while they’re still streaming. If you’re concerned that a video will not be available afterwards, one option is to use a screen recording tool to record the video while it’s broadcasting. Screen recording is also an easy way to capture comments as they are posted, which may provide useful information or context, although keep in mind potential security concerns with capturing commenters’ identities and the information they share.
OBS (Open Broadcaster Studio) is a free and open source software for livestreaming that can also be used to make recordings from a browser. One of the benefits of OBS over some of the other options below is that you can capture the audio directly, rather than over your computer microphone (which captures other ambient sounds).
- In the Sources box, “+” > “Browser” > paste the URL > (optional) adjust width and height to your browser window size > Check “Control audio via OBS.”
- Right-click canvas > “Interact” to open a separate window to interact with the website (e.g. pressing play).
- Click “Start Recording,” and then “Stop Recording” when you’re done.
- File > Show Recordings to access the recorded file
Some newer Android phones, like Samsung and LG, have built-in screen recorders with internal audio. If your phone doesn’t have its own recorder, Screen Recorder is a free (has ads) and simple app for screen recording. It’s not open-source, but it’s regularly updated and widely downloaded on the Play Store.
A note about audio: Regardless of what screen recording app you use, it wasn’t possible to record internal audio on Android phones until Android 10. The alternative for older phones is to record audio over the microphone, although note that this will capture external sounds as well.
Again, be aware of potential security risks if screen recording livestream comments, which may reveal identities or information that can be used against people. Also, be aware of inadvertently recording message notifications that pop on your phone — turn off notifications before recording.
Downloading streams after broadcast
If you are fairly certain that the stream will be available after broadcast, it is a lot easier to download streams as files than recording them live off your screen.
Will the stream be available after broadcast?
- Facebook automatically saves live videos and keeps them available after broadcast, although streamers can opt to “unpublish” them.
- Twitter automatically saves live videos and keeps them available after broadcast.
- YouTube automatically saves live videos but allows streamers to make them unlisted after broadcast.
- Instagram automatically saves live videos to the streamer’s private Live Archive for 30 days, but makes it optional for streamers to share them on IGTV.
- Twitch does not automatically save live videos unless the broadcaster has enabled the Video on Demand feature. Even then, broadcasts are deleted after a period of time (14-60 days depending on the account), unless the broadcaster “highlights” the video.
For platforms where saving is optional, you can ask the streamer to enable the feature. Of course, even if a video is saved, there is always the risk that a platform may remove a video or that the streamer will need to remove the video, so you should still download as soon as possible.
4K Video Downloader is a free and simple app (with ads) that can download from most major platforms (except Twitter). It’s not open-source, but it’s widely used and we have not heard any malware problems associated with it.
For Twitter, you can use Twitter’s Tweetdeck on your desktop or browser and just right-click the video and directly download/save the video).
Alternately, YouTube-DL is a widely used open-source tool that can download from almost any platform and can do batch downloads. It can seem intimidating because you have to use it in the command-line, but it’s actually quite simple to use once you have it installed. Citizen Evidence Lab has a tutorial.
Note: 4k Video Downloader and Youtube-DL can download video, but not the livestream comments, descriptions, or other elements of the webpage. If these are important for you to collect, Webrecorder is an open-source and easy-to-use tool and browser extension for capturing entire webpages. The webpage is saved in WARC format, and is “replayable” as a fully interactive webpage. Keep in mind any additional security risks of capturing commenters’ identities and the information they share.
It’s easier to download videos using a computer, but if you are relying on a mobile phone, there are still some options.
For Facebook, Frost for Facebook is a third-party, open-source Facebook wrapper (i.e. an alternative Facebook app) that has an easy download feature. You need to log into your Facebook account to use it. If you are concerned about providing this information, consider using a secondary Facebook account. Note: an issue that users have identified is that Facebook may think your login is suspicious and temporarily block your account.
For YouTube, New Pipe is a third-party, open-source Youtube app that enables easy downloading. You don’t need to login to use it.
For Twitter, Twitter’s Tweetdeck allows downloads, if you switch to the Desktop instead of Mobile version in your browser.