Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Queensland Residents Post Flood Footage

This post is cross-posted from YouTube Trends and was originally written by Kevin Allocca.

Major flooding in Queensland, Australia recently has now led to large evacuations and over a billion dollars in likely damages. We've collected some of the footage posted in the last few days of the flooding from residents in cities like Dalby, Bundaberg, and Chinchilla. You can view them here:

(Use the arrows to navigate between videos or watch them all here)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy Holidays from the PM and President of Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Presiden Shimon Peres took to YouTube to wish Happy Holidays to all.

We at CitizenTube wish you a Happy Holidays as well!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Veterans for Peace - Civil Disobedience to End War

War veterans chained themselves to the front gates of the White House to display their disapproval of the President's support of war in Afghanistan. Whether you ultimately agree with their argument or not, their backgrounds and convictions deserve everyone's consideration:

Monday, December 20, 2010

A year later, and Russia's "YouTube Cops" meet sad fates

There's an important post by Alexey Sidorenko over on Global Voices following up on the story of the Russian police officers who took to YouTube a year ago to tell the world of the corruption they'd observed within the force.

It all started with Alexey Dymovskiy, who posted two lengthy videos to YouTube last November pointing out the corruption in the Russian police force, going so far as to call his superiors "ignorant, reckless, boorish and dim-witted." A half a million views later, Dymovskiy's videos were getting played all over the international media, and several other Russian officers followed his footsteps onto YouTube. However, as Sidorenko reports, most of those who published videos have been fired, jailed, and/or beaten.

Writes Sidorenko:

It's not that corruption in the Russian police was unknown before Dymovskiy's video. It was the medium he chose for telling this open secret that attracted so much attention. The full disclosure of the identity of the messenger was an essential part of the message, and it introduced a new form of citizen-to-government public communication: an online video address to the president or prime minister.

Read more here.

Here's one of Dymovskiy's original videos:

Friday, December 17, 2010

Managing Director of the IMF on the Economic Recovery

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, spoke to Reuters' Chrystia Freeland this past week about the economic recovery in Europe. The conversation ranged from whether the economic recovery is uneven in Europe to his thoughts on running for the French presidency to the importance of the United States in the global economic system.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Data visualizations + holograms = Awesome

Here at Citizentube we've developed a bit of a friend-crush on data visualizations. Using data to tell interesting stories is something our friends on the Google Zeitgeist team did effectively and is something we're currently working on with our newly launched YouTube Trends (more to come on that later).

In the video below Professor of Global Health (and TED favorite) Hans Rosling uses data to show trends over time in health and wealth across the world. While you may have seen graphs and charts about this issue before, promise you've never seen it presented like this:

Friday, December 10, 2010

Inside London's Student Protests

Students in the United Kingdom protested -- sometimes violently -- in London yesterday into the evening over a hike in the maximum tuition fee resulting in 12 officers and 43 protesters injured, according to the BBC. Many of the students and bystanders were carrying cameras and capture different perspectives on the day's events. We've collected an assortment of them in the playlist below and more have been continuously uploaded throughout the day.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Your Ticket to Davos

Do you have the ultimate idea about how to close the poverty gap? Here’s your chance to tell the world. For the fourth year, through the Davos Debates program, one lucky YouTube user will get an all-access pass to the World Economic Forum in Davos, where global leaders gather to tackle the most important issues facing our world.

To enter the running, all you have to do is submit your 1-minute video summarizing your ideas on the importance of inclusive growth - a key theme of this year’s event. Not sure what inclusive growth really means? Past Davos Debates winners break it down for you here:

The winner with the best video will be selected as an informal YouTube community representative to participate in the Annual Meeting and take part in a special panel during the event. You’ll not only have the opportunity to rub elbows with the most powerful leaders in the world, you’ll be given a platform to share your views with them.

The deadline to submit your ideas is January 14, so visit the Davos channel today to make your voice heard.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Ask the Department of the Interior

Ever been interested in what the Department of the Interior does? Now is your time to ask!

The Director of New Media for the Department of the Interior is asking you to submit your questions and Secretary Ken Salazar will answer them on YouTube at the end of next week.

You can submit questions right in the comments to the linked YouTube video as well as on the other social media channels listed at the end of the video!

"Your World, Your Future: Voices of a New Generation"

The US Mission to the UN just launched an innovative interactive series entitled "Your World, Your Future: Voices of a New Generation" in which they're inviting young people around the world to lead the political dialogue. From December 2nd until the 14th the US Mission to the UN is welcoming anyone under the age of 21 to submit an answer to the following question either in writing (less than 250 words) or via YouTube (1 minute or less):

“What is the most vital challenge to international peace and security facing your generation? Tell the UN Security Council what issue you believe deserves more attention, and explain why it is important.”

Please view the launch video here.

The US Mission will select the three most compelling submissions and pose them as topics for debate amongst the UN Security Council at an event on December 21st. This event, hosted at the UN Headquarters in New York, will also be live streamed at

Full details can be found here.

Submit your answer today!

Friday, December 3, 2010

How the TSA videos went viral

The Transportation and Security Administration has been a hot topic in the past month, and today a top trending video is footage captured at an Oklahoma City airport of wheel-chair bound Tammy Banovac who stripped to her underwear to avoid a search. That clip, which you can view directly below, has been viewed over a million times in the past day.

Over the past month there are a handful of TSA related videos that have "gone viral".

The holiday season is still young, and we're still a few weeks off from the next surge in domestic air travel, but the height of TSA hysteria might be behind us for now. Looking at data for users searching "TSA" on YouTube, you can see on the graph below that search interest peaked on the 22nd, the busiest travel day of the year and the day that two of the most-viewed videos received the most media attention.

Searches first began to pick up after John Tyner posted the video above of his experience at the San Diego Airport.

Two other interesting asides about the search data:
1. The largest spiking search term associated with "TSA" in the past 30 days was "pat down."
2. The state "TSA" searches were most popular in? Utah. (The video of the young boy being searched was captured in Salt Lake City.)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Learn about the human side of climate change from Kofi Annan

There's an excellent post on the official Google blog in which Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the UN, uses Google Earth technology to demonstrate the human effects of climate change:

Climate change is too often misunderstood to be simply an environmental issue, rather than a human issue. For our children and grandchildren, climate change is an issue of public health, economics, global security and social equity. This human side of climate change is explained in a new Google Earth tour narrated by former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan. Within these stories, you’ll find data and tools to explore this topic in more depth, and meet some of the people who are actively working on managing the risks of climate variability and change. We encourage you to take the tour to learn more about these human issues and the inspiring work of groups like the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) that are helping farmers cope with climate change. We hope this video will serve as a useful tool as educators help students around the world understand the complexity of this issue.

To continue reading visit here or watch the video below.

Sarah Shourd, American released from Iran, writes music video for remaining imprisoned hikers

We've been following the story of the three American hikers detained in Iran for over a year now, as their friends and family have used video to raise awareness for their captivity. When one of the hikers, Sarah Shourd, was released a few months ago, members of posed a question to President Clinton in our YouTube interview about what needs to happen to release her two fellow hikers, Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer. Now Sarah has produced a music video, with lyrics she wrote in prison, to raise awareness for their captivity. You can buy the song directly from Amazon, the proceeds will go to funding the advocacy work of

And here's more background on Sarah, Shane, and Josh's story:

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Chris Christie -- the "Justin Bieber of Political Media"

Chris Christie, the Republican Governor from New Jersey, has amassed a significant following on YouTube, regularly posting compelling (and often testy / controversial) videos. While not the only politician to embrace YouTube as a platform to engage citizens, Christie is one of the most adept at regularly posting entertaining content that showcases his direct approach. His YouTube popularity has been noticed by mainstream media outlets, with an article in the New York Times today (read here) and a piece in Slate a few weeks back (here).

To check out Christie's YouTube channel visit here and see below for a recent video from a town hall in Clifton, NJ.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Visualizing Changes in the Balance of the Two Party Vote

As a big fan of cartograms I find the video below fascinating. This video uses isarithmic mapping to showcase the shift in the two-party vote in the US over the past 90 years. When the historical red-blue political balance is shown visually I'm reminded that despite how deeply entrenched our current political state feels the winds of political favor do shift quickly and dramatically.

How do you think this map will look 30 years from now?

For more information on the math behind the mapping visit here.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

"That's on tape! That's on tape!": Capturing Police Brutality in Miami

This Halloween partiers in the Coconut Grove neighborhood of Miami were subject to something more alarming than the standard fare of ghosts and goblins.

Caught on tape below, policemen went "above and beyond" their duties by roughing up some of the holiday revelers. With a crowd of costume-sporting Floridians watching (and hollering), police officers seemed to cross the line between keeping order and abusing their power as they dragged people from the crowd and forcefully arrested them.

What makes this occurrence particularly interesting is that one of the witnesses recorded the entire incident on their camera phone, brazenly shouting "That's on tape! That's on tape" throughout the arrests. This amateur footage is reminiscent of the shocking clip of Oakland resident Oscar Grant being shot by BART police.

When politicians and pundits speak of increased government transparency it often comes across as a top-down initiative -- the legislators will open their doors and show the inner workings of their political operations and budgeting. At the end of the day though, there is no greater way to force government transparency than empowering citizens with video cameras to capture and broadcast the injustices of the day.

Reports from CBS 4 and the Miami New Times state that this video was shared amongst various government department and an internal investigation into the offending police officer is underway.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

[WATCH] 14 year old student stands up for gay rights and teacher at school board meeting

Graham Taylor, a fourteen year old in Michigan is making waves online after standing up at a local school board meeting and advocating on behalf of teacher Jay McDowell who was suspended for ejecting students from his class who made racist and anti-gay remarks. Watch the impassioned speech for McDowell's reinstatement here:

This is the latest in a slew of other enormously popular videos that advocate against bullying and prejudice against gays. Other viral hits in this vein include the enormously successful It Gets Better Project and this video from Joel Burns, a Fort Worth City Councilman.

In the video above, Taylor speaks of the "silent holocaust" occurring in America, citing that millions of gay teens have taken their lives as a result of bullying. Judging by the groundswell of support for these videos, and the fact that others are creating their own videos to speak out, it looks like many teens are now using YouTube to end the silence.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Ugandan President throws down mad beats in recent political ad

In February of 2011, Yoweri Museveni, the Ugandan President, will be up for re-election - and his campaign strategy includes dropping some hip hop knowledge on the Ugandan citizenry. Recently, Museveni release a video for a rap song called, "You Want Another Rap?". The video has received close to 50,000 views on YouTube (additionally, the song is apparently a staple in Ugandan clubs):

The video and song was created after Museveni recited lines to an African folks song at a rally - reminiscent of "Yes We Can," another viral hit that was derived from a political speech. The song also includes lines of Runyankore, an African tribal language.

And public YouTube Insight data shows that Museveni is targeting his constituents well on YouTube. The video has received most penetration in Uganda and surrounding nations. And he is also reaching his goal of relating to a younger audience - the video is most popular with males ages 25 - 44.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The 2010 election on YouTube: By the numbers

In these 2010 midterm elections, campaigns, voters, and interest groups have continued to innovate new ways to share their political opinions on YouTube. Because YouTube is a platform where anyone can post and share videos globally, you’ve made this platform the vanguard of the political media discussion. Some of these efforts to influence the political dialog on YouTube were more successful than others. Today, we’re sharing who emerged on top of the YouTube elections heap - and we’re going strictly by the numbers.

The top 10 most-viewed videos, sourced from all videos categorized as “News & Politics" on YouTube, are a mixed bag of official campaign videos, user-generated content and videos from interest groups:

1. Congressman Assaults Student on Sidewalk
2. We Are Better than That

3. America Rising - An Open Letter to Democrat Politicians
4. President Obama, No One is Laughing in Arizona
5. Language
6. Brewer to Obama: Warning Signs are not Enough

7. Those Voices Don’t Speak for the Rest of Us
8. FCINO: Fiscal Conservative in Name Only
9. Governor Christie Responds to Teacher During Town Hall
10. Arizona Sing-A-Long: Read Immigration Law!

Interestingly, every video in the top ten comes from the Republicans, which is quite a departure from 2008. In addition, immigration was an extremely hot topic on YouTube this year - three out of ten of the most-viewed videos are about the Arizona immigration law (2 came from AZ Governor Jan Brewer).

Now, let’s take a look specifically at the 450 candidates for public office who registered for official Politician channels on YouTube this fall. Here’s a rundown of the top 10 most-viewed Politician channels on YouTube in the last month:

  1. Christine O’Donnell 
  2. Jerry Brown 
  3. Rob Steele 
  4. Linda McMahon 
  5. Jack Conway 
  6. Marco Rubio 
  7. Carly Fiorina 
  8. Joe Sestak 
  9. Chris Coons 
  10. Dino Rossi

Leading the pack is Christine O’Donnell whose “I’m You” video inspired hundreds of thousands of views... and quite a few parodies. Here's the original:

YouTube Insight allows us to see where the view counts were coming for any individual video. For example, parodies of O’Donnell’s “I’m You” video (like the Gregory Brothers’ “Songify This," above) received millions more views than O’Donnell’s original campaign video nationally, but Insight shows us that O’Donnell still received more views in the state of Delaware than any parody video.

Similarly, the memorable “Why” video from the #5 politician on the list, Kentucky Senate candidate Jack Conway, shows that he too, did an effective job of targeting the voters in his state - even though the video went viral nationally.

Stay tuned tomorrow for more YouTube and Google video and trends data, during our special Election Night coverage with CBS News.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Trip Report: Google and YouTube in Iraq

Earlier this month, a small team from Google and YouTube spent a week in Iraq on a trip arranged by the Department of Defense’s Task Force for Business and Stability Operations (TFBSO). Our goals were to explore opportunities for Google in Iraq, to understand the landscape of Internet access and connectivity in the country during this critical transition period, and to bring top-voted questions from YouTube to Iraqi leaders in a series of interviews. We met with students, private sector companies, NGOs and Iraqi leadership in the Kurdish city of Erbil in the north, and in Baghdad.

Pictures taken by the Google/YouTube team in Iraq: Harry Wingo (Policy), Carrie Farrell (, Debu Purkayastha (Corp Dev), Olivia Ma (YouTube), Mary Himinkool (Business Development), and Steve Grove (YouTube).

Regardless of your feelings about the Iraq War, it’s immediately evident upon arrival just how completely the country missed the Internet boom during Saddam Hussein’s regime. Internet penetration rates in Iraq are among the lowest in the Middle East—somewhere between one and eight percent. Only 15 percent of Iraqis say they use the web, and the largest percentage of them live in Baghdad. There are no commercial data centers in Iraq and much more fiber connectivity is needed to meet consumer needs. Most connections are via satellite, and those who do have connections pay dearly for it—we heard estimates of up to $150 U.S. dollars per month for a 512kb connection. To incentivize and enable private companies to lay more fiber in Iraq, a complex set of roadblocks must be addressed—from security concerns to regulatory frameworks to licensing structures. As the country is still struggling to form a government more than seven months after its last election, much of this progress has been stalled.

There are signs of progress, however. Mobile penetration has skyrocketed in Iraq in the past seven years, from effectively zero percent in 2003 to over 70% today. And the Iraqi people are highly educated. We met with dozens of computer science students at Salahaddin University in Erbil and at Baghdad University, and though they lack equipment and resources, they’re highly motivated to innovate and believe the web is a critical component of their economy’s future.

Many young people in Iraq and around the world submitted questions in Arabic and English for three interviews we conducted in partnership with Middle Eastern news agency Al Arabiya. Google Translate enabled anyone to vote on their favorite questions regardless of language, and we brought the top five questions to current Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the Prime Minister of the Kurdish Regional Government in Erbil, Dr. Barham Salih, and Iraqi politician and once the interim Prime Minister of Iraq, Ayad Allawi. Here is the television special that Al Arabiya produced showcasing their answers:

The Iraqis we met consistently expressed their desire for increased access to the web and for more access to content and tools in both Kurdish and Arabic. We believe access to information and high-speed connectivity to the cloud will be key to the future of the country. The power of the web to change people’s lives grows the further one gets from Silicon Valley, and we look forward to continuing our work with companies, governments and citizens in Iraq and other countries in transition.

Mary Himinkool, New Business Development, and Olivia Ma, YouTube News & Politics

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pat Quinn targets Gleeks with new YouTube campaign ad

Illinois Gubernatorial candidate Pat Quinn (D) is taking a page from Will Schuster's book this week -- his latest YouTube campaign ad mimics the fast-paced Glee recap that precedes each new episode. I guess with a name like Quinn, we should be thankful he doesn't appear in the video wearing a Cheerios uniform. Here it is:

You would think that the video would appeal most to Glee die-hards in the Millennial generation but a quick spin through YouTube Insight actually shows us that the video, which has received over 40,000 views since being uploaded three days ago, is actually most popular with men and women, ages 45 and up. Hmm...that seems more like the Principal Figgins than Finn set?

Nevertheless, in a campaign season that has been overwrought with attack ads that are generally mean-spirited, it's somewhat refreshing to see one that uses humor and pop culture to go after an opponent.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Democrats not yet down for the count on YouTube

After a tough 2008, the Republicans came out swinging this year on YouTube. Almost every memorable campaign ad has come from the right side of the aisle - Carly Fiorina's gems, the John Dennis video likening Speaker Pelosi to the Wicked Witch, and of course the clever Frankenstein spoof that Mattie Fein put together. For several months, you may have wondered - where the heck are the Democrats, the party that brought propelled Obama to YouTube super-stardom just two years ago?

Apparently, they've been waiting until ten days before the election to start fighting back. In the past few days, the Dems have uploaded a few videos that are definitely worth taking a look at and there's a common theme to all of them - attack, attack, attack.

In this first video, from Filmmakers for Bill White, the Dems have re-learned a good lesson from 2008. If you can't make great campaign videos for yourself, lean on users and filmmakers to make them for you. There isn't much in here about Democratic Texas gubernatorial candidate Bill White but it succeeds in making his opponent, Rick Perry, look ludicrous against a catchy beat:

Next up is a more classic campaign ad from Democrat Jack Conway calling out opponent Rand Paul for a statement he made about his God being "Aqua Buddha". However, it's worth mentioning for two reasons. First, in just four days, the video has over 130,000 views on YouTube. Second, it has Democrats divided. Some are upset that Conway has gone after Paul for being a Buddhist, which suggests religious intolerance. Others maintain that it's a solid ad that pins Paul as an outsider in Kentucky. Watch the ad and decide for yourself:

This last ad comes from Democrat Jerry Brown in California and it's quite clever. The video positions Meg White side by side with current and unpopular Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and depicts her parroting exactly what he has said in the past. A smart alignment tactic...I wonder if they used Google's speech-to-text product to create it?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

YouTube political commentators join National Economic Advisers in Reuters debate

On YouTube they go by The Young Turk and How the World Works, but this Tuesday Cenk Uyger and Lee Doran will be taking their political commentary beyond YouTube to a special forum on focused on fixing the global economy.

Reuters Editor-at-Large Chrystia Freeland will host the forum, which will feature a debate between Laura Tyson, former Chairman of President Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers, and Glenn Hubbard, who held that same position under President George W. Bush. Tyson is a candidate to replace Larry Summers as President Obama’s top economic advisor and also to head the new federal Office of Financial Information.

Afterward, Freeland will host a live video debate between the progressive Uyger and the conservative Doran. This won’t be the first time that Uyger and Doran, who each boast tens of thousands of subscribers on YouTube, have faced off: Each of them has a strong following on YouTube and a regular audience of comentators who take the debate over the future of our country very seriously. Within the context of the Reuters forum between Tyson and Hubbard, their discussion promises to be lively and full of controversy.

The Forum, entitled “Conflicting Visions: Fixing the Global Economy,” will be hosted on Reuters and YouTube. Check out around midday Tuesday, when we’ll post the clip.

Steve Grove, Head of News and Politics, recently watched “Health Care, Economic Policy, and Political Polarization in America

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Nevada Debate Preview: Crazy juice v. monkey-troubled spending

Next week, Nevada Senate candidates Sharron Angle and Harry Reid will square off in their only debate of the election season - and some of the questions will come from you, through a partnership between YouTube and the Nevada Broadcasters' Association. Want your voice to be heard? You can submit your questions now at

Both candidates been using YouTube creatively to their advantage so, in advance of the debate, let's take a look at their best "made-for-YouTube" work. First up, here's a video that was just released today from the Reid campaign accusing Angle of drinking the "crazy juice" (+1 for the "spiked with DeMint line - clever):

This Angle video also definitely plays the humor card, chiding Reid on his wasteful spending by introducing some colorful examples of stimulus expenditures:

These two videos are definitely entertaining but we're hoping that the debate next week covers serious issues as well - especially the ones that matter to you.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

An artful approach to cause video

In the age of celeb PSAs and 30-second spots, it's always refreshing to see a beautifully-edited, stylistically-sound video that advocates for a cause. Here's a great example, just released today (it's so well done, you may not even realize it's seven minutes long):

Yesterday we saw a humorous video about homelessness, today it's a gorgeous mini-doc about war in Congo. Could this be a positive trend of interesting cause videos? Hopefully there's more to come...

Monday, October 4, 2010

Under pressure of homelessness (featuring Kermit)

What do you get when you mix a classic Queen anthem with a video featuring the world's most famous frog? You may not expect to get an inspiring video about homelessness but that's exactly what YouTube user Maxmailbag has produced. Totally confused? Watch the video, which is currently racing up the YouTube comedy charts, here:

While homelessness is no laughing matter, it's definitely refreshing to see this video inspiring change in a light and approachable way. The video description includes a link to where you can help the cause.

Rahm discuesses Chicago Mayoral bid on YouTube

The news is out - Rahm Emanuel will leave his White House post to run for Chicago Mayor. A man who has laid out the Obama Administration's strategy for the past year now turns to YouTube to lay out his campaign strategy:

Looks like Rahm is taking a page out of the Obama playbook, not only by announcing a grassroots tour to interact with voters, but also in his use of YouTube to cultivate online supporters. We'll see if he continues to employ Obama-esque campaign strategies as the election nears.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Rock the Vote celebrity PSA turns into rushed voter registration as deadlines loom

R&B singer JoJo was filming a PSA for Rock the Vote, when the organization's director, Heather Smith, reminded her of the deadlines for fall registration. The PSA took a different turn as they walked away from the cameras and hopped online to register.

Monday, 23 states close their voter registration process for the Nov. 2 election. And by Friday 31 states will no longer be registering voters. Go to to register now.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

College Republicans urge youth to "break up" with Obama

One of the fastest-rising political videos on YouTube this week is this spoof from the College Republicans, which urges the youth of America to "break up" with President Obama:

The video, which recently surpassed 60,000 views, includes gobs of social media references and one-line zingers ("he had me at hope and change"). It's clear that the Republicans are actively courting the youth vote, which President Obama won handily in 2008.

In addition to putting it on YouTube, the College Republicans have spent close to $10,000 running the ad on television in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida college towns.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Dan Savage launches YouTube channel to help gay teens

Dan Savage, author of the popular sex advice column "Savage Love," just announced his new YouTube channel to provide support to LGBT teens who are being bullied or discriminated against. The channel, titled "It Gets Better" is Savage's response to the large number of gay youth who have written to him asking for guidance and advice. Here's the video Savage created to launch the channel with his husband Terry:

Future videos will come from other role models who will help encourage gay teens that life gets better after high school. Savage has definitely chosen the right place to launch his project - from Tyler Oakley who made a viral video combating hate speech to Michael Buckley who is one of YouTube's most popular partners to David Jacques who has made several videos championing various causes, YouTube is full of LGBT role models. Here's hoping that Savage will consider using some of YouTube's most famous faces to bolster this inspirational project.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Personal stories of struggle and success in fight for Millennium Development Goals

There's been a lot of talk about the Millennium Development Goals this week, with both the UN in session and the Clinton Global Initiative running in New York. And in the midst of the policy discussion about the goals and their future, an innovative production company called Purple States is working to put a personal face on the goals. By getting cameras in the hands of people around the world, they've produced a series of "MDG Vignettes" that chronicle the struggles and success of those fighting for better lives.

Germany and India:

Rwanda and Kenya:

Spain and the Philippines:

Your ideas on human rights and free expression on YouTube

[cross-posted from the YouTube blog]

About a month ago, as part of our series of blogs about human rights and video with, we asked for your thoughts and ideas on some of the key topics on the future of video activism. Now we're responding to some of your top-voted questions and comments within the Moderator series we set up to facilitate the discussion. Click here to see our discussion on privacy, impact, and classification of human rights videos online.

But the conversation only grows from here. This week, we've gathered with around 300 activists, nonprofits, and thought leaders in Budapest for Internet at Liberty 2010, a conference that Google is sponsoring in conjunction with the Central Europeon University to examine key issues in online free expression. We've been collecting your thoughts on how to keep the Internet safe for online free expression in another Moderator series; many of your ideas will be discussed in the panels and discussions that take place in Hungary. The conference will be live streamed, and we'll post videos of the session to a special YouTube channel dedicated to the discussions that take place.

People everywhere use platforms like YouTube to share their stories with the world every day. Sometimes those stories are as simple as an idea, a thought or a diary of life through your eyes; other times, those stories expose abuses of power or human rights violations in ways that are changing how justice is served around the world. Whatever you decide to use the web for, we believe it's vital to a free society to keep the Internet open, and it's through discussions like these that we can continue to teach each other how to do so.

Steve Grove, Head of News & Politics, YouTube, and Sameer Padania for WITNESS

Behind the scenes of "Dude, you have no Quran"

Great interview by CBS correspondent Shira Lazar with Jacob Isom, the man whose shirtless interview on local news following his rescue of a Quran before it could be burned then spurred a viral auto-tune hit.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

First-hand look at a Taliban attack in Afghanistan

Some incredible footage from Global Post's James Foley, on assignment for PBS News Hour in Afghanistan. At 1:32, a gunner takes a bullet in the head; his helmet saves his life.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Nonprofit challenges Stephen Colbert to an "Ice-Cream-off"

Volunteer Match, a nonprofit that matches volunteers with charity organizations, has challenged Stephen Colbert to an Ice Cream taste test between their Ben and Jerry's flavor, "Berry Voluntary", and Colbert's "Americone Dream":

Fighting the hunger crisis in Chad

Heart-wrenching video from Jonathan Dumont at the World Food Program, who's been in Chad documenting the hunger crisis:

Monday, September 13, 2010

Behind the scenes at the Democracy Video Challenge

Some behind the scenes footage with Secretary of State Clinton from the awards ceremony for the Democracy Video Challenge last week:

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

President Clinton takes your questions on YouTube

William Jefferson Clinton has worn many hats over the years. He served two terms as the 42nd President of the United States. He founded the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative to tackle problems like global health, poverty, education and climate change. He’s spent much of this year leading the recovery effort in Haiti through the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund.

And starting now, he’s taking your questions in an exclusive YouTube interview. Hear more about the interview and the President’s work straight from the man himself:

To participate, visit and use the Moderator platform to upload your video question for President Clinton—and vote for the ones you like the best. You can also submit a text question if you can’t record a video.

Later this month, at his annual Clinton Global Initiative meeting, President Clinton will sit down with us and answer a selection of your top-voted questions in our interview.

Submit your question and start voting early! The submission period closes on September 13.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Open for Questions with Ben Rhodes, final video

Here's our Open for Questions session with the White House after the President's Oval Office address the other night:

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Live on YouTube tonight: President Obama’s Oval Office address on Iraq

President Obama set a deadline of August 31, 2010 for ending the combat operation in Iraq and shrinking the U.S. footprint there to no more than 50,000 troops. Tonight, at 8 P.M. ET, the President will address the country from the Oval Office about the status of this effort. You can tune into a live-stream of the speech on YouTube at -- where you’ll also be able to ask the White House follow-up questions on the future of American involvement in Iraq in a special Moderator series. Click here to submit your question now.

If you miss the live address and the Q & A, tune in to Citizentube afterwards where we’ll feature the President’s remarks, the Q & A, and the Republican response to the Administration’s plan in Iraq.

Steve Grove, Head of News and Politics, recently watched Obama to Mark Iraq Handoff in Primetime Speech

Friday, August 27, 2010

My Experience on the YouTube News Feed

Earlier this year, YouTube approached the University of California Berkeley School of Journalism, where I was then a graduate student, with a question: how could we better understand the news ecosystem on YouTube? And how can we assess the footage that is uploaded to YouTube everyday by “citizen reporters,” particularly as a source for professional journalists to use in their reporting? They asked my fellow classmate Anna Bloom and me to launch an experiment called the News Feed. The goal was to discover and highlight breaking news footage on YouTube and see how valuable it could be to media organizations and news consumers. In the process, we wanted to figure out how YouTube functioned as a news source and how well the site enabled people to discover breaking news clips quickly and efficiently.

For the last three months, we’ve been examining the algorithms that surface the hundreds of thousands of videos uploaded to YouTube everyday, in search of valuable news footage that is visually compelling, timely, and shot by non-professional journalists. On, we’ve posted hundreds of clips documenting everything from forest fires in Russia to riots in California to sharks on the Jersey Shore.

Today is my last day on this project, and I wanted to share some of my reflections on what I found.

Content Breakdown

Early on, we decided to look primarily at stories of national or international interest. Lots of local news events are recorded by YouTube users every day, but only a few are relevant to a broad audience of journalists. We wanted to highlight citizen or amateur footage that could contribute to the day’s headlines, while also hoping to discover important stories that weren’t being reported by the mainstream media. We identified several news categories we thought YouTube users were already capturing: weather events, protests, accidents and disasters, political gaffes, misuses of authority, and fighting and unrest. We didn’t exclude other newsworthy events, but these are the staples of television news and are in the “sweet spot” for citizen reporters.

We noticed a lot of our content was posted by users outside the US (In fact, 70% of YouTube traffic comes from outside the United States). We found lots of interesting content from Russia for some reason, very little from Africa and almost nothing from China, where the site is blocked. This summer, 48.8% of our CitizenTube posts were based on clips from international users, while 51.2% were from US users.

Here’s a breakdown of precisely what we published on the site:

Protest/Riots: 14%
Environment/Weather: 13%
International Conflict: 10%
Accidents: 10%
Fire: 9%
Floods: 8%
Political Gaffes: 7%
Bizarre Animals: 6%
Police: 3%
Sports: 3%
Rescues: 2%
Animal Rights: 1.5%

It comes as no surprise that the greatest number of posts related to protests or riots: events that involve large crowds of people, where you can expect someone will whip out a cell phone camera if something newsworthy happens. (See also these clips from the Love Parade panic and the Venezuela train trapping.) In addition, YouTube users show little fear in tackling controversial topics: the effects of global warming, the meaning of Islam in America, and Mid East land conflicts among them. Without the influence of editors, lawyers, shareholders, or any of the traditional constraints of journalism, these videos sometimes represented views more extreme than those usually heard in the mainstream media. Sometimes the content existed only to communicate a very specific point of view, whether it was convincing tourists to visit a contaminated beach, or persuading people that a certain brand of politics is misguided. “Activist reporting” is alive and well on YouTube.

In my experience this summer, though, I found that most people just wanted to share a great story with the world: to let other people know what’s happening where they live. For example, the man who filmed the images of the Airblue plane crash in Pakistan, Muhammad Saqib Sultan, told me he heard about the accident on TV, then hopped on his motorbike and drive more than ninety minutes to reach the site, in the thick, jungled hills above Islamabad, just to see it for himself and make a record of it. Oftentimes these citizen reporters are happy to document places that professional reporters are unable to visit.

The localized nature of these videos gives them a special kind of credibility. Almost all of the clips we featured this summer were shot by people who live near the scene of the event they depicted. They know their communities well, which sets them apart from journalists who parachute into the site of breaking news and are expected to master local intricacies in a short period of time. Who better than citizen reporters to know when something is out of place or unjust in their own backyards?

Citizen reporting is only going to grow as more of the world gets access to affordable, mobile video equipment and broadband Internet. In a way, YouTube users could be seen as the world’s largest news-gathering unit, uploading content from around the globe 24 hours a day. Both sides -- citizens and the professional media -- have something to gain from this. In a shrinking news environment, where media corporations are trying to do more with less, amateur video footage complements the work of professional reporters, who provide the necessary background, context and narrative to the raw footage. Citizens get recognition for their work, help shape the way their communities are covered, and in the future, might get some form of compensation from a “news marketplace.” Many innovative organizations are already experimenting with such models.

Just as the nature of citizen reporting will continue to evolve, so will So keep an eye on it for new developments from YouTube’s News and Politics team, and of course, for more amazing stories captured by YouTube users around the world.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

North Carolina Snake Breeder Hatches Two-Headed Reptile

A rare two-headed corn snake has been hatched by a reptile breeder in North Carolina. Mike Lambert tells Charlotte's WBTV the snake was born on August 18, and also has an uncommon double recessive gene that wipes out the black and red coloring of its scales, making it mostly white.

User name: DunnsMtnReptiles
Location: Salisbury, North Carolina
Date uploaded: August 18
Views: 32
Click here to watch this video on YouTube.

User name: DunnsMtnReptiles
Location: Salisbury, North Carolina
Date uploaded: August 18
Views: 100
Click here to watch this video on YouTube.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

La Tomatina: The World's Biggest Food Fight

The city of Bunol, Spain held its annual La Tomatina food fight today, featuring tons of overripe tomatoes.

User name: ResetLiveGrow
Location: Bunol, Spain
Date uploaded: August 25
Event date: August 25
Views: 51
Click here to watch this video on YouTube.

User name: BakkerInternational
Location: Bunol, Spain
Date uploaded: August 25
Event date: August 25
Views: 61
Click here to watch this video on YouTube.

User name: CendraDigital
Location: Bunol, Spain
Date uploaded: August 25
Event date: August 25
Views: 200
Click here to watch this video on YouTube.

Russian Police Officer Reprimanded for Brutality

Russian officials have reprimanded a police officer caught on video tape striking a peaceful protestor with a baton and pulling his hair, according to the Moscow Times. The officer reportedly could face prison time for the incident, which can be seen at 7:22 in the clip below. The paper reports the unauthorized rally was staged to "draw attention to Article 31 of the Constitution, which guarantees freedom of assembly. The authorities have refused to authorize the rallies, organized by opposition and human rights activists on the last day of every month with 31 days since July 2009."

User name: nevextv
Location: St. Petersburg, Russia
Date uploaded: July 31
Event date: July 31
Views: 248, 623
Click here to watch this video on YouTube.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Anti-Mosque Crowd Harasses Suspected Muslim

Opponents of a planned Islamic center near Ground Zero gathered in Lower Manhattan on Sunday to denounce the project. A YouTube user filmed some of the protesters harassing a man they mistook for a Muslim. interviewed the citizen reporter, Aaron Webber, who said the "the protesters were denouncing Islam itself, not merely the community center project."

User name: lefthandedart
Location: New York, New York
Date uploaded: August 22
Event date: August 22
Views: 25,867
User notes: "A man walks through the crowd at the Ground Zero protest and is mistaken as a Muslim. The crowd turns on him and confronts him. The man in the blue hard hat calls him a coward and tries to fight him. The tall man who I think was one of the organizers tried to get between the two men. Later I caught up with the man who's name is Kenny. He is a Union carpenter who works at Ground Zero. We discussed what a scary moment that was for him. I told him that I hoped it did not ruin his day."
Click here to watch this video on YouTube.

Crowds Riot After Earth, Wind & Fire Concert

Fort Collins, Colorado police used tear gas and mace to break up a riot involving as many as 400 people early Sunday morning, The Coloradoan reports. The riot began after an Earth, Wind & Fire performance at the NewWestFest music festival. Some people "threw beer bottles, patio furniture and other objects at police; they also damaged cars, stole items from festival vendor tents and set trash cans on fire," the paper reports.

User name: Drthinian
Location: Fort Collins, Colorado
Date uploaded: August 22
Event date: August 22
Views: 2,534
Click here to watch this video on YouTube.

User name: Drthinian
Location: Fort Collins, Colorado
Date uploaded: August 22
Event date: August 22
Views: 6,615
Click here to watch this video on YouTube.

Cape Town Cooling Towers Demolished

Spectators filmed the demolition of the Athlone power station near Cape Town, South Africa.

User name: sarin54
Location: Cape Town, South Africa
Date uploaded: August 22
Event date: August 22
Views: 12,093
Click here to watch this video on YouTube.

User name: FlightzoneSA
Location: Cape Town, South Africa
Date uploaded: August 22
Event date: August 22
Views: 1,305
Click here to watch this video on YouTube.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Bull Leaps into Crowd, Injuring 40 at Bullfight

Forty people were reportedly injured when a bull leapt into a crowded bullring in Tafalla, Spain and trampled spectators. According to Spanish media reports, the bull was eventually brought under control by bullfighters and killed. Images captured by Basque Television and audience members show the animal jumping several yards over a barrier, triggering panic in the crowd.

User name: eitbcom
Location: Tafala, Spain
Date uploaded: August 18
Event date: August 18
Views: 305
Click here to watch this video on YouTube.

User name: 97javierito
Location: Tafalla, Spain
Date uploaded: August 18
Event date: August 18
Views: 2,219
Click here to watch this video on YouTube.