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YouTube launches first video sharing anonymity tool

YouTube has launched a “face blurring” tool that allows users to protect the identity of people in videos. “As citizens continue to play a critical role in supplying news and human rights footage from around the world, YouTube is committed to creating even better tools to help them,” said the video sharing site on its blog.

Mich Atagana
Mich started out life wanting to be a theoretical physicist but soon realized that mathematics was required. So, she promptly let go of that dream. She then... More

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This service is a first for online video sites — according to the international human rights organization, “no video-sharing site or hardware manufacturer currently offers users the option to blur faces or protect identity.”

YouTube will offer this option when users upload video. They said “…our face blurring technology is a first step towards providing visual anonymity for video on YouTube.”

The new tool works quite simply. Once users have chosen a video they would like to edit within the service’s video enhancements tool, they go to the additional features and click the “apply” button below blur all faces. Before publishing, users will see a preview of what their video will look like with faces blurred. After creating a blurred version of the video, users will be given the option to delete the original video or keep it.

“This is emerging technology, which means it sometimes has difficulty detecting faces depending on the angle, lighting, obstructions and video quality. It’s possible that certain faces or frames will not be blurred. If you are not satisfied with the accuracy of the blurring as you see it in the preview, you may wish to keep your video private.”

The company feels that visual anonymity will allow people to share personal videos and give people the opportunity to speak out to injustice.

“Because human rights footage, in particular, opens up new risks to the people posting videos and to those filmed, it’s important to keep in mind other ways toprotect yourself and the people in your videos.”