Monday, November 30, 2009

Join Morgan Freeman to Bring Human Rights Work to Light

YouTube can be a powerful tool championing the rights of individuals and promoting free expression. This month, during International Human Rights Day, we're partnering with Morgan Freeman and Amnesty International to encourage you to become advocates for equality and justice, through Video Volunteers.

Here's how you can help. Create a video about the nonprofit of your choice working on a human rights issue that you care about -- it could be genocide, human trafficking, refugee protection, gender equality or something else -- and submit it to the Video Volunteers channel by December 21. Amnesty International and Freeman, who plays legendary crusader Nelson Mandela in the upcoming movie Invictus, will select three videos to appear on the YouTube homepage at the end of the month. Hear more from Morgan about the importance of taking up this cause:

This is your chance to help citizens around the world who often can't help themselves and to bring the vital work of human rights organizations to light. Join Morgan Freeman to protect the rights of these individuals at

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Iraqi Government on YouTube

Governments, heads of state, and leaders from around the world are on YouTube, including the Pope, the Royal Family, and Queen Rania, and presidents from the United States to France,South Korea to Estonia. Today we're especially pleased to announce that the Iraqi Government has launched a dedicated YouTube channel, at Learn more from Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki:

Earlier this year, I visited Baghdad as a guest of the U.S. State Department to engage in conversations about the role of technology in Iraq. In discussions with elected officials, private companies and NGOs, I routinely heard the desire to connect with fellow citizens, Iraqis outside the country's borders, and cultures across the world. But it wasn't just the Iraqi Government who expressed an interest in YouTube — I was pleasantly surprised by the high level of awareness from a wide variety of Iraqis. One young student told us she uses YouTube to understand what is really happening in her country based on the variety of opinions, citizen journalism and news reports uploaded to the site. There was little difference between her examples and those we often hear in other countries, which speaks to both the global community on YouTube and the universality of the video experience.

Just this past week, our CEO Eric Schmidt traveled to Iraq to meet with government officials there about the challenge and opportunities they face. While in Iraq, Eric shot this video forCitizentube:

We hope that by launching on YouTube, the Iraqi Government and their citizens will also find it easy to use YouTube to engage in such conversations, and bring their proceedings, policies and ideas to a larger audience around the world.

Hunter Walk, Director of Product Management

Monday, November 23, 2009

Video of violent scuffle between a policeman and a BART passenger

Yesterday, Bay Area local news station KTVU reported on a video posted to YouTube, which captured a BART officer escorting a rowdy passenger off of a train and pushing him into a nearby glass window, which subsequently shattered - cutting them both.

After last year's incident with Oscar Grant, a young man who was shot and killed by a police officer in an Oakland BART station, officials are taking this very seriously. According to the New York Times, the BART called a press conference on Sunday to discuss the video.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Two days left to help your favorite American hunger org

There are only two days left to submit your video on behalf of your favorite organization tackling hunger in America to YouTube Video Volunteers for the chance to have it featured on the YouTube homepage. We've already seen some great submissions from a range of users including musicians like HavilahTower:

And filmmakers like nsmith345:

The submission period for this month closes at 12 midnight tomorrow, November 21st, so don't wait to get your video in!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

UC students take to the streets to protest 32% tuition hike

When the University of California Regents announced a 32% tuition hike yesterday, UC students across the state were less than thrilled. In fact, many were downright angry and immediately launched protests, rallies and sit-ins to combat the marked increase. Now, footage from these demonstrations is pouring onto YouTube. Here's a video taken outside the Regents meeting at UCLA's Covel Commons, where a scuffle took place between student protesters and campus police:

Footage of protesters at UC Berkeley:

Hundreds of students sit-in to block the entrance to the parking garage where the Regents are headed:

This is how a Congressman should use YouTube

Great video from Representative Steve Israel (NY-2). Personal, to the point, down-to-earth, and accessible:

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

An emotional reunion between soldier and his dog goes viral

This video, chronicling an emotional reunion between a soldier and his dog, has found a huge fan base in the past few weeks (likely aided by a screening of it on the Today Show), and is currently approaching the 1 million-view mark:

It's interesting because the video was actually shot in 2005 and posted over a year ago, but is now finding viral success on YouTube.

Today, the creator of the video, Lt. Andrew Schmidt posted an update that says:

"I reached out to the Alexandria, VA, animal shelter to let them know that Gracie is one of theirs. They saved her in 2004. They were elated -- those people have a tough job, and if it picks up their morale, then great. I also told them that they could use it in any way for marketing or promotion purposes, full rights. Hopefully more to follow on that as well."

It's great to see Schmidt using his viral success to do good and help a local animal shelter. If you want to follow in Schmidt's footsteps and help out a local organization with your videos, you can do so at

Amazing use of annotations to start a petition on climate change

Check out this amazing user-generated petition on YouTube -- using our collaborative annotations feature and asking people to add their name as a layer on top of the video, this user is collecting support for a climate change deal in Copenhagen this December. Lots of people are getting involved. There's still time to win a trip there yourself, through our COP-15 program - head over to to submit your video now.

The first batch of assignments on YouTube Direct

As we announced yesterday in the YouTube blog, we've launched a platform that makes it easier for citizens and media organizations to share footage of news events. It's called YouTube Direct, and it's an open-source platform that allows any organization request, review, and re-broadcast news videos on their own site. You can find out more on our landing page at

Seven different news organizations launched the platform with us - here's a quick synopsis of the call-outs they've made. We're keeping a running list of all assignments over on our Reporters' Center, so check back there often for updates. If you're interested in the opportunities below, click on the name of the news organization to get started.

ABC News

ABC News is asking people to submit videos telling the country what they're thankful for. They'll broadcast the best videos on Good Morning America on Thanksgiving Day. Here's more from the GMA anchors here, and here's Robin Roberts call-out video on YouTube:

Huffington Post

The Huffington Post is asking for your videos on climate change, in the lead-up to the COP-15 conference in Copenhagen this December. The submitter of the best video will get a free trip to Copenhagen to join the leaders gathered there. That's a pretty good incentive, I'd say. Learn more from Matt at the Huffington Post:


NPR is launching a new initiative called "WonderScope", in which they ask you to submit videos that make abstract scientific ideas accessible to people. Check out their great launch video here, for inspiration:


The POLITICO is asking for your thoughts on Sarah Palin's new book, in the "Arena" section on their site. Political pundits, head on over there and submit! They'll be launching new topics frequently, and you can be featured alongside top political opinion leaders from inside the beltway on their site.

The San Francisco Chronicle

The Chronicle is taking a local approach - they want your videos of street performers in San Francisco (and take it from an SF resident, there are lots). Learn more from Dan Hirsch at

The Washington Post

The Washington Post launched not one but three assignments yesterday. Dr. Gridlock is looking for your bad traffic footage, Dan Balz is asking for your thoughts on a GOP resurgence, and the sports section is looking for the best high school football rushing touchdowns in the area. Here's Dr. Gridlock:

WHDH-TV in Boston

Last but not least, WHDH-TV showed the promise of local TV news organizations using YouTube Direct. Not only did they launch a version that asked locals to submit videos on Coach Bill Belichick's decision to go for it on a crucial 4th down in the Patriot's Sunday evening loss to the Colts - but they've already shown some of the best videos on their broadcast. Check out this great example of the kinds of exposure citizen contributors can get via YouTube Direct.

If you're a news organization (or any other organization for that matter) who is interested in YouTube Direct, head over to the site to pick up the code and get started. We're looking forward to seeing what you come up with.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Connecting citizens and journalists with YouTube Direct

[Cross-posted to the YouTube blog]

Every day, people with video cameras are changing the ways we get our news. We see it during elections. We see it during earthquakes, fires and other natural disasters. We see it on our freeways, in our schools and in our public spaces. Almost any event that takes place today has a chance of being captured on camera. As YouTube has become a global platform for sharing the news, media organizations have been looking for a good way to connect directly with citizen reporters on our site so they can broadcast this footage and bring it to a larger audience.

That's why we created YouTube Direct, a new tool that allows media organizations to request, review and rebroadcast YouTube clips directly from YouTube users. Built from our APIs, this open source application lets media organizations enable customized versions of YouTube's upload platform on their own websites. Users can upload videos directly into this application, which also enables the hosting organization to easily review video submissions and select the best ones to broadcast on-air and on their websites. As always, these videos also live on YouTube, so users can reach their own audience while also getting broader exposure and editorial validation for the videos they create.

Though we built YouTube Direct to help news organizations expand their coverage and connect directly with their audiences, the application is designed to meet any organization's goal of leveraging video content submitted by the community. Businesses can use YouTube Direct to solicit promotional videos, nonprofits can use the application to call-out for support videos around social campaigns and politicians can use the platform to ask for user-generated political commercials. The opportunities to use the tool are as broad as the media spectrum itself.

Already, we've seen ABC News, the Huffington Post, NPR, Politico, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Washington Post, and WHDH-TV/WLVI-TV in Boston using YouTube Direct. We look forward to seeing many more organizations to do the same.

To get started, visit

Steve Grove, YouTube News and Politics, recently watched "The WonderScope Challenge"

Monday, November 16, 2009

60 Seconds to Save the World

Today is the United Nations International Day of Tolerance and in honor, nonprofit org Global Tolerance is launching a new YouTube campaign called "Tole-rants." Essentially, they are inviting global citizens to film and upload their own ideas for solutions to our planet's most pressing problems -- the catch is that every "tole-rant" has to be under 60 seconds. Here's an overview:

In one year, a jury which includes Gandhi's grandson Rajmohan Gandhi, will select the best tole-rant and Global Tolerance will work to make the tole-rant a reality. You can upload yours here:

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Fabulous Bus Ride

A local Vermont news station, WCAX, reported that a man allegedly stole a tour bus and took it for a joy ride. Not only was he caught -- and now has to appear in Vermont District Court next week -- but being used as evidence against him is this YouTube video, The Fabulous Bus Ride, which he supposedly shot and posted to the site himself.

According to WCAX,
"Thirty-eight-year-old Jacob Rehm of Morrisville was arrested for allegedly taking the $500,000 bus on a joy ride through central Vermont. The bus was eventually tracked down in St Johnsbury. He's a former employee of the bus company. Rehm is charged with operating without the owners consent.

Now it appears he made a 4 minute video of his adventure and posted it on YouTube. It's titled "The Fabulous Bus Ride" and it gives a tour of the bus and shots of Rehm driving."

Check out the video for yourself:

Found courtesy of CNET.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Preview: Oprah's interview with Sarah Palin

Oprah posted this short preview of her highly-anticipated interview with former Alaska Governor and Vice Presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, to her YouTube channel this week.

The exclusive interview is set to air on Monday November 16. It sounds like it's going to be a tell-all, so be sure to tune into Oprah - or wait until she posts it to YouTube.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Newsweek Counts Down the Past 10 Years in 7 Minutes

With the end of the decade rapidly approaching (where does the time go?), Newsweek has released this video which chronicles the past ten years in seven minutes:

Looked like this video was pretty exhaustive, but YouTube commenters are already aflutter about the moments that were left out. Check out the video and let Newsweek know if they missed something or if they included something that wasn't quite newsworthy enough (ahem, William Hung?)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

YouTube Salutes Vets and Their Supporters

Today, we're shining the spotlight on the men and women who have bravely served -- and are presently serving -- in all branches of the U.S. military. Video has become a vital tool for current soldiers who are trying to communicate their wartime experience to the public and for older veterans who want to share their stories from past battles, like Lewis Bennett, the youngest member of the 84th District in World War II:

In addition, on the homepage, we're featuring content from those institutions and organizations that provide much-needed support to veterans. For example, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America has created a social network specifically for veterans and their families, while UCLA provides an adaptive sports therapy program for injured soldiers from the U.S. Army, including a regiment of rock climbing, wheelchair basketball, and table tennis. Here's a preview:

To see more video content from soldiers and veterans, please visit

Russian police officer cries corruption on YouTube; video goes viral

YouTube's newest anti-establishment hero is a member of the establishment himself - or at least he was. Russian police officer Alexei Dymovsky posted two videos to YouTube pointing out the corruption in the Russian police force, and even went so far as to call his superiors "ignorant, reckless, boorish and dim-witted." Dymovsky has since been sacked by the police force for slander - but his YouTube videos have topped half a million views (in their various versions) on the site. Learn more about the story here, and check out his videos (in Russian) below.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Repower America uses YouTube API to create citizen-powered video mosaic

Repower America, a project of Al Gore's Alliance for Climate Protection, has launched a new campaign that asks citizens to create videos calling for clean energy legislation. An even cooler component is that they've leveraged the YouTube API to create a wall on their website comprised of videos. The effect is a very cool mosaic of people, from a student in Nebraska to a celeb like Sheryl Crow, sounding off on clean energy:

Check it out for yourself and add your voice at

Monday, November 9, 2009

A crowdsourced ditty that'll make you feel good...and do good

Popular YouTube partner charlieissocoollike has assembled a merry band of YouTubers to do some good this holiday season. They've released a new, completely crowd-sourced, song called "I've Got Nothing," which Charlie says was "created with nothing but the good will of the people on the internet." Their goal is to get to the top of the UK pop charts, simply by distributing the video on YouTube, and donate all of the proceeds from the song to the charity, Children in Need

One interesting factoid: The lyrics of the song are made up of YouTube comments, compiled into a song by another YouTuber (don't worry Moms, they're totally kid-friendly). Have a listen:

If you like the song you can download it on ITunes, where apparently it's already up to #25 in the United Kingdom, and know that the proceeds are going to kids in need.

An Internet meme hits politics, and something's lost in the translation

One of the more popular Internet memes on YouTube over the past few years has been the Hitler meltdown mash-up. The source is a scene from a critically acclaimed German film about Hitler's final days called Der Untergang (The Downfall), in which an angry Hitler explodes at his confidants after he realizes the war is going poorly for the Germans. According to Wired, the Downfall clip has been "ironically remixed almost 100 times, making fun of everyone from the New England Patriots for the loss of the Superbowl to gamers banned from Microsoft’s Xbox Live service."

But when a few Australian pols created a version of The Downfall starring an Australian parliamentary candidate who they believed was ineffective, the government didn't find it very funny. One Liberal Party operative lost his job over the weekend, and "decisive disciplinary action" is being taken, said Nick Campbell, the party's state President. Read more here, and see the clip in question below. Something is lost in the irony of the meme when the Hitler character is compared to an actual human being as opposed to an entity; watch the clip and see if you agree that it falls flat and that it's creators deserved to get canned.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Liberal comedian comes out of the closet as former insurance spokesperson

If you keep up with the lighter side of YouTube politics, the name Andy Cobb might ring a bell. Andy is a comic who has made a name for himself on the site for last three years, with videos that lampoon conservatives and generally parody politics in America. His Karl Rove rap, his Godfather IV parody of Alberto Gonzales, and his parody of the Washington Post are all popular hits on YouTube.

Now Cobb has revealed a secret from his past as a commercial actor, and is using it to push for health care reform. Turns out he used to work as a spokesperson for the insurance industry in Florida (specifically, Blue Cross Blue Shield), a job Cobb claims required him to say things he didn't really believe in TV commercials. In an act that one might consider half activism, and half Internet video catharsis, he's now teaming up with Brave New Films on their "Sick for Profit" initiative to highlight what he calls, "the lies of the insurance industry."

Cobb's efforts are getting attention... he went on the Ed Show earlier today with Robert Greenwald of Brave New Films to tell his story.

Media surrounds Fort Hood, developments continue to unfold

In addition to the citizen reactions we've been posting to the Tragedy at Fort Hood, official sources are beginning to post footage.

Here's the press conference at the Scott and White hospital in Fort Hood last night:

And here's a good interview with Lt. Robert Cone, on the rumor that the Major Malik was yelling "Allahu Akbar" during the shooting.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Fort Hood resident captures atmosphere immediately after shooting

This video was posted in the last hour by a Fort Hood, Texas resident who was at home when the shootings occurred across the street at the Fort Hood army base. You can hear a loud city-wide emergency broadcast announcement in the background telling people to "take shelter immediately" as the resident peers out of his or her door to see what's going on outside. Sirens are blaring loudly in the background as police arrive on the scene.

Soldiers and veterans reacting to Fort Hood shootings on YouTube

Several videos have been posted by current soldiers and veterans, reacting to today's Fort Hood shootings.

Raw footage from the scene at Fort Hood shooting

Raw footage from the scene at Fort Hood from Austin News channel KXAN:

Fort Hood Citizen Reacts to Shooting

Citizens from across the country are reacting to the recent shooting at Ft. Hood military base, where it has been reported that 12 were killed and 31 wounded. User americalatina07, a Fort Hood resident, just posted her first YouTube video ever because her house in under lock down and she has no way to communicate with the outside world. She also mentions that YouTube and Twitter are her only sources of information, as she doesn't own a television. Watch her account of what's happening here:

For more citizen reaction videos from around the country, see this playlist, which we'll be updating:

PBS Probes the Issue of Hunger in America

This month, as Thanksgiving approaches, YouTube is shining the spotlight on hunger in America. This video from Bill Moyers and PBS digs into food bank shortages in the United States and provides excellent context around the hunger issue. If you can spare 13 minutes, it's worth a watch:

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Iran protests turn violent (again) on 30th Anniversary of U.S. Embassy Invasion

A slew of videos were uploaded to YouTube again today documenting protests on the streets of Tehran. This time, the protests marked the 30th anniversary of the United States embassy takeover by Iranian students on November 4, 1979. Many protesters used the opportunity to both commemorate the anniversary and voice their dissent of the current Iranian government led by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Familiar scenes were documented on camera as police forces clashed with members of the opposition movement, releasing tear gas into the crowds.

This footage, captured by a witness from a window above, shows riot police forces assaulting some protesters on the street:

This video shows a man reportedly injured during a protest:

And here's a playlist of other videos that were supposedly taken in Tehran today and uploaded to YouTube:

Reactions to Maine's same-sex marriage decision on YouTube

Yesterday, Maine voters passed "Question 1" to repeal the new state law to allow same-sex marriages. The measure, which passed with 53% of the vote, delivered a major blow to equal rights activists pushing for the legalization of gay marriage around the country.

We've seen dozens of people turning to YouTube to share their reactions and reflections.

Here's a playlist:

Post-Election Day, Citizens React Through YouTube

Yesterday, American citizens headed to the polls to cast their votes. Today, the results are in, and citizens are voicing their opinions about election outcomes through YouTube.

With big wins in New Jersey and Virginia, many are saying that it was a good day for the Republican party. User tailgatetalk, a conservative, disagrees, saying that people came out to support smaller government, not a particular party:

On the other side, Jared from Portland, Maine, woke up at 3:47 this morning to post this vlog, bemoaning the passage of Proposition 1, which outlaws gay marriage:

And user SuzannahArtist, a New York City resident created artwork to express her misgivings about Mayor Bloomberg's third-term win:

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Shot for news?

Reporters Without Borders, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting freedom of the press around the world, has posted a provocative new video to their YouTube channel as part of a campaign to raise public awareness around the importance of press freedom.

The video, which is meant to be shocking, shows a man get shot while reaching for a newspaper on a city street. According to Reporters Without Borders, 850 journalists have lost their lives in the last 15 years over seeking and providing access to information.

Take a look at the video, and visit for more information.

Election Day in VA and NJ: A YouTube wrap-up

With the nation's political radar focused on the gubernatorial races today in Virginia and New Jersey, here's a last look at the YouTube campaigns run by the candidates in each race.


Democrat Creigh Deeds
: 74 total videos

Most viewed video: "Fired Up" (23,900 views). A clip of President Obama's rally for Deeds, uploaded on October 21.

Toughest moment on YouTube
: Getting his tounge tied on taxes.

Republican Bob McDonnell: 75 total videos

Most viewed video
: "Sheila" (8,596 total views.) Famous billionaire CEO and Democrat Sheila Johnson makes a surprise endorsement of the GOP candidate in the race.

Toughest moment on YouTube: When Sheila Johnson attacked Creigh Deeds ability to "articulate" in a campaign rally for McDonnell; many said her attack went over the line.

New Jersey

Democrat Jon Corzine: 205 videos

Most viewed Video: "If" (122,500 views). An attack ad on opponent Chris Christie, claiming he got off easy on traffic charges and used his power to skirt punishment.

Toughest moment on YouTube
: Well, this isn't a YouTube challenge in the strictest sense, but this comedic parody depicting Corzine as "The Tax Man" got some traction (17K views).

Republican Chris Christie
: 120 total videos

Most viewed video
: "A message for President Obama" (19,800). Christie takes his anti-tax message straight to the President with a YouTube video direct straight at Obama during a visit he made to New Jersey.

Toughest moment on YouTube
: A DNC attack piece using footage from the Hill and a townhall, depicting Christie as a loose cannon.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Vodka Perishes in Tragic Warehouse Accident

Via Gizmodo, an unfortunate incident involving a warehouse employee, a forklift, and the destruction of about $250,000 worth of Russian vodka:

Help the Hungry This Thanksgiving

On World Food Day, we asked you to donate to feed the billion hungry people in the world and your response was incredible: over 140,000 children got meals because of you. Thank you.

Now, we're looking at the facts close to home: one in eight Americans don't have enough food to eat, a fact that becomes even harder to digest at this time of year, as we prepare for Thanksgiving, a celebration of food and family.

Through Video Volunteers, we're hoping you can make a video for any nonprofit tackling the issue of hunger in America. You could create a video profiling the work your local food bank is doing or even volunteer to serve a meal at a shelter and record your experience. Hear more from David Arquette, our guest curator for this month's edition of Video Volunteers:

The top three videos submitted on the YouTube Video Volunteers channel will be featured on the YouTube homepage around Thanksgiving, alongside a video from our partner in this effort, Feeding America. Videos must be submitted by November 21 for consideration.

Drew Blames Cancer, Beats Cancer

Drew Olanoff, who created the site "Blame Drew's Cancer" (where citizens can blame Olanoff's cancer for their problems) skyrocketed to techno-stardom when Drew Carey offered him $100,000 for his @drew Twitter handle. Afterwards, Carey offered to match up to 1 million dollars in donations to the LiveStrong Foundation, Lance Armstrong's cancer research org.

Today, Olanoff announced that he had his final chemo today and beat cancer. See the video:

British Taxman heads to YouTube to chase down the scallywags

The UK's tax agency, HM Revenue and Customs, is using YouTube to chase down those who think they can skit paying taxes. Dave Hartnett, the agency's permanent secretary for tax, puts it bluntly in the 2 minute video.

"For some people, offshore bank accounts and tax havens typically conjure up images of exotic and faraway places, well out of the reach of the taxman at home... well, life's just not like that any more. And here's a blunt message from HM Revenue and Customs: times have changed. The taxman now has more powers and more information."

For all those British tax dodgers logging into YouTube from a Cayman Island Internet cafe... watch out. This message is meant for you.