How Live Streaming Citizen Journalists Can Help Protect Your Freedom

Op-Ed by PM Beers

June 17, 2015
(ANTIMEDIA) This is a response to an article called Live Streamers Make Great Informants written by WeCopwatch. I’m writing this because there have been wide generalizations about live streamers and some accusations made without any examples given that all live streaming of all protests is bad. As with most binary thinking, a middle ground is usually the better path. WeCopWatch expressed many valid concerns and most of those concerns can be addressed with giving security culture training to new live streamers. There are ways to stream that keep people safe. Many activists believe that live-streaming protects them. I am coming from that perspective, with safety being my main concern.
I’ve been doing activism live-streaming for over three and a half years and I’ve been invited many times by many activists groups to live-stream their actions and events. This is because they want the truth broadcasted and many activists feel safer when they have a streamer with them. Live streamers should always be sensitive to the needs and wishes of the group they are streaming for and the stream should be about the action—not about the streamer.
Security culture should always be a major component to new streamer training. It is the job of the streamer to protect the activists and not their job to help the cops. In most cases, protests are nonviolent and laws are not being broken. It is as important to document the calm peacefulness as it is to document when police get violent. My live stream footage has been used in court to attain not guilty verdicts. Without my footage, it would be the cop’s word against the protesters words and juries tend to side with police. Most activist groups welcome live streaming and don’t ask that faces not be shown.

What is security culture?

Every activist group has different concerns and needs for varying levels of privacy. Some groups want everything to be open and transparent and some groups want to be completely private. The same is true of individuals within groups. These needs should be respected by live streamers. Consent must be respected by streamers.