Friday, January 29, 2010

Forty-Eight Hours to Submit Your Question for the President

On Monday afternoon, as a follow-up to his State of the Union address, President Obama will give a live interview to YouTube from the White House -- and every single question will come from you. You can submit your questions in video or in text, and you can vote on which questions you think should be asked on CitizenTube. Your votes will determine the top questions posed during the discussion with the President. The deadline for submission is Sunday night at 8 p.m. EST.

What makes a good question? That's entirely up to you. We would love to see as many video questions as possible, so if you can, record your question on camera and upload it to YouTube. Be sure to keep it under 20 seconds, and make sure the video and audio quality is crisp and clear. The Moderator platform allows for text questions, too - so if you don't have time to post a video, feel free to simply type your question. We'll use a mixture of both in the interview.

If you're considering what your question should be, but missed the President's State of the Union speech, here it is:

Don't be afraid to ask tough questions - this is your opportunity to have direct access to the President. Though we obviously won't get to each of the thousands of questions that have been submitted, you'll have a say in which questions are asked by voting on your favorites - so come back to
CitizenTube and vote often.

Cross-posted on the YouTube blog

Live Tomorrow: The YouTube Panel at Davos on Female Genital Mutilation

This year's iteration of The Davos Debates culminates tomorrow as Julia Lalla-Maharajh, the winner of the “Your Pitch to the World” contest, joins Ann Veneman, Executive Director of UNICEF, Kathy Bushkin Calvin, CEO of the United Nations Foundation, and Larry Cox, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA, on a special panel moderated by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. The session will delve into the issue Julia pledged to address with world leaders at the World Economic Forum: female genital mutilation (FGM). A difficult topic in just about every way, FGM affects an estimated 130 million women around the world, and tomorrow's panel will be the first time it's been brought to the table at Davos, not to mention the first time someone chosen by the YouTube community has had a seat at that table. You can participate, too, for the first time. Nicholas Kristof will incorporate the questions you've contributed and voted up using the Google Moderator tool on the Davos YouTube channel into the panel discussion. We’ll be streaming the panel live on at 3:30 pm CET (9:30 am EST) on Saturday, January 30, 2010. As your watch, please continue to add your thoughts to the discussion using the Moderator tool. Also, be sure to watch Julia's video diary of her time here at Davos. She's spent every waking minute talking with the influential world leaders, corporate executives, and global movers-and-shakers at the World Economic Forum, raising awareness about FGM and spreading her message about the importance of ending it now. We’ll see you at tomorrow to watch Julia represent the YouTube community! Olivia Ma, News & Politics Manager, recently watched "Bill Clinton talks to Julia Lalla-Maharajh"

Social Media Panel @ Davos

The full video of the social media panel we were on in Davos is up on the World Economic Forum's channel. Skip to the second hour to see your questions from our Moderator platform on enter into the discussion.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Program Announcement: Film Your Issue, Share it With Thought Leaders

If you've ever wanted the chance to share your ideas about how to change the world with officials in the Obama Administration and filmmakers at Sundance, here it is.

We're bringing the Film Your Issue competition to YouTube this year as part of our Video for Change program. Film Your Issue is a contest for the next generation of global thinkers and social entrepreneurs (ages 14 to 24) to share innovative ideas for improving society. All you have to do to enter is create a three-minute video outlining a front-burner issue and proposing a solution to that issue, and submit it to the Film Your Issue channel. Learn more here:

Prizes include having your winning video shown to senior Obama administration officials in D.C., flying to L.A. for an awards show with Sony Pictures, a Student Pass to the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, and Apple products like a Macbook or iPod Touch. Winners will be selected by a VIP Jury, including Tom Brokaw, our own Chad Hurley, Yoko Ono and Nicholas Kristof, and by public voting on YouTube.

Visit to enter before April 19 and peruse past finalist videos, including last year's winner, which tackled Hurricane Katrina's aftermath:

Ramya Raghavan, Nonprofits & Activism Manager, recently watched "2010 State of the Union."

Citizentube @ Davos: Your questions at the Al Arabiya Debate

One of the higher-profile sessions here at Davos was a debate convened today by Al Arabiya, an Arab television network based in Dubai and one of YouTube's news partners. The debate focused on the balance of power in the Middle East, and featured a wide range of panelists:

·Khalid Abdulla-Janahi, Honorary Chairman, Vision 3, United Arab
·Samir Al Rifai, Prime Minister of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
·Salam Fayyad, Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority
·Anwar M. Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of the United
Arab Emirates
·William Hague, Shadow Foreign Secretary, Conservative Party, United
·Amre Moussa, Secretary-General, League of Arab States, Cairo

We worked with Al Arabiya to bring your top-voted questions from our Moderator platform into the discussion. See below the two questions that Al Arabiya Host Rima Maktabi brought to the panel, and the answers given by the panelists. Excuse the shaky flip cam coverage; we'll post the full debate here after Al Arabiya airs it on telelvsion this Saturday.

"What are Middle Eastern leaders doing to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? To what extent can resolving this conflict contribute to winning the fight on modern terrorism?"
- Salma, Washington, DC

"The world has seen the bombing of the Iraqi and Syrian nuclear reactors, but we have not seen the facilities in North Korean or Iran destroyed. Would the international community prefer to keep the Arab world out of the nuclear balance of power, and is that a good thing or a bad thing?"
- Goodman Citizen

And here is how the action unfolded:

Stay tuned to all the action on our Davos YouTube channel - next up is the YouTube

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Live Tonight on YouTube: The State of the Union

[Cross-posted to the YouTube Blog]

Tonight at 9 p.m. ET we'll be livestreaming the President's State of the Union address onYouTube. As we announced yesterday, not only will you have the opportunity to watch the speech live online, you'll also be able to submit your questions for the President during and after the speech, and the President himself will respond to a collection of your top-voted questions in a live interview at the White House next week.

When the State of the Union address begins at 9 p.m. ET, we'll open a Google Moderator series on CitizenTube ( that will allow you to submit and vote on questions (in text or on video) for the President. Be ready to submit your questions right after the speech as we'll only keep the platform open for a few days.

How will we know which questions to bring to the President in the interview? You'll tell us by how you voted. After the votes have been cast, we'll assemble a shortlist of the top questions, ensuring that we cover a range of issues, minimize duplicate questions, and include a mix of both video and text submissions. This is your opportunity for an exclusive interview with the President, so be sure to submit great questions and vote for the ones you think should be asked.

If you're submitting your question on video (which we prefer), please be sure to keep it short (20 seconds or less) and use the highest video and audio quality possible so that we can hear you loud and clear.

After the speech, we'll highlight the video of the entire State of the Union address, so those of you who aren't able to see it live can still watch and participate afterwards. We'll also feature Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell's official GOP response to the President's State of the Union, in what promises to be a lively and important discussion of our nation's future in 2010.

See you tonight at 9 p.m. ET on CitizenTube.

Experts respond to your questions about the State of the Union

Tonight at 9 pm EST, President Obama will deliver his first State of the Union address, which you can watch live at One week ago, we asked you to share your own commentary on the State of the Union and what we can do to address the nation's most pressing issues.

You responded in droves, submitting hundreds of ideas for how to improve the country in 2010 and casting thousands of votes on what you felt were the best submissions from the community.

Newsweek convened four experts to respond to your top ideas and provide additional analysis, and we're featuring these four videos on the YouTube homepage today.

General Wesley Clark, the retired Army general and former presidential candidate, addressed your ideas on defense and national security:

Nouriel Roubini, a professor in economics at NYU widely recognized for predicting the real estate market crash, listened to your ideas on jobs and the economy and provided this response:

Jim Hansen, a renowned NASA climatologist and climate change expert, replied to your thoughts on energy and the environment:

And Fareed Zakaria, acclaimed author and international editor of Newsweek, discussed your top voted ideas in education:

Thank you for submitting your ideas. Be sure to tune in tonight to watch President Obama's speech live on CitizenTube ( at 9 p.m. EST, and submit your questions for the President during and after the speech. He'll answer the top questions in a special YouTube interview from the White House next week.

YouTube at the World Economic Forum @ Davos, 2010

We've arrived in Davos for the 2010 World Economic Forum, where we're opening up the discussions here to your questions at See below a video of the YouTube production booth, where world leaders and participants in the Forum are shooting videos answering your top-voted questions on a variety of issues. We're also bringing your top questions to some of the panel discussions using our Moderator tool. Stay tuned here at Citizentube for more.

Citizentube in Switzerland: Social Media Panel @ Davos

Olivia and I have just arrived here in Davos, where we're working with several panels of experts to bring your voice to the discussions taking place here. We just finished a panel on Social Media, moderated by Loic LeMeur and featuring Evan Williams of Twitter, Owen Van Natta of Myspace, Gina Bianchini of Ning and several others.

We were able to pose two of the Moderator questions to the group assembled, here they are:

Question 1:

"The net was supposed to free us, but with the world becoming increasingly influenced by hype (popular news is over-reported along with decline of journalism) and efficiency (internet shorthands and lack of grammar online), is society deteriorating?"
-- herenthere, NY


New media expert Jeff Jarvis believes strongly that society is not deteriorating as a result of the Internet. He believes that we need to have an inherent faith in the people. There are a lot of great things coming out including new models in journalism. He observed that when others gain control it breaks down old structures and it scares them and they complain. We need to believe in the power of the people to make things better.

Michael Arrington of TechCrunch asks was journalism so great beforehand? He wonders how journalists managed to convince people in the past that journalism was a beacon of truth? It's not so great - he's seen it on the inside. So he thinks things are improving with more people involved now than ever before.

Question 2:

"How involved should corporations such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc.. be in the Internet censorship laws that compromise access to their content, and don't they owe it to their users to try and ensure equal access worldwide?"
Racha M, Dubai School of Government


Randi Zuckerberg from Facebook commented on the fact that Facebook is playing an important role in social revolutions and that the site has been blocked in Iran and China among other places. She didn't comment specifically on Facebook's role, but said they'd seen an outpouring of support for Google's recent decision not to censor search results in China.

Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn observed that they don't encounter most of the censorship issues other sites do. He stressed the need to parse out cultural sensitivity vs. freedom of speech, etc. He said that most corporate entities try not to take on public conflicts, and in Silicon Valley especially the attitude is often build the product, be transparent about it, and go from there.

Evan Williams the CEO of Twitter said he'll stand up against censorship, but not sure how much good it does for Twitter to try to fight with governments trying to censor. They'll be as involved as they can be, but not sure how much of an effect they can have since they're talking with governments that are fundamentally against what Twitter is all about. The most productive way for them to fight censorship is not to engage with the government directly but rather by enabling technological hacks and solutions that allow users to circumvent censorship.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Amidst violence, elections are held in Sri Lanka

Today, voters in Sri Lanka are heading to the polls to cast their ballot for president, culminating an election season that has been saturated with violence - in the past two weeks, at least four people have been killed in election-related attacks. This video contains more details, as well as information about the precautions being taken to ensure a fair election:

The race between current President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his challenger, the former army commander Sarath Fonseka, is extremely close. Bloomberg provides an overview of the race, noting that whoever wins will have the monumental job of helping the Sri Lankan economy recover after a 26-year civil war:

Your State of the Union

Every year, the President of the United States addresses a joint session of Congress to deliver his State of the Union address. Required by the U.S. Constitution, the address is the president's chance to take stock of the current condition of the United States and lay out his political agenda for the new year. Presidents have long used new technology to share their message directly with the American people. Calvin Coolidge was the first president to broadcast the State of the Union over the radio in 1923, and President Truman made history in 1947 when he became the first to deliver his address to a live television audience.

This year's State of the Union speech will also make history. It will be the first time that citizens will have the opportunity to ask follow-up questions during the speech -- and to hear the president's response to those questions. On Wednesday night at 9 p.m. ET, during our live broadcast of the State of the Union on Citizentube, we'll open up a Moderator series for you to submit your questions for the president in video or in text (if you have the time, we'd prefer video). Over the following few days, you'll be able to submit additional questions and vote on your favorites too. Then next week (we'll announce the exact timing soon), we'll bring some of your top-voted questions to the president in a YouTube interview from the White House, which we'll also broadcast live on Citizentube. As always, questions are subject to YouTube's Terms of Service.

Already, discussions on YouTube about the State of the Union have been lively. Tomorrow on our homepage, we'll spotlight the responses of four experts to your ideas on the State of the Union. Check out those clips in the lead-up to the speech, then tune in tomorrow night to ask the President your questions. We'll also feature the GOP response to the president's address, in what promises to be an engaging discussion on the direction of the country in 2010.

Cross-posted on the YouTube Blog

Sunday, January 24, 2010

YouTube's All-Access Pass to Davos

For the past three years at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, YouTube has partnered with WEF to give YouTube users the chance to send videos to world leaders. Fom a special production booth up the Swiss Alps, presidents, CEOs, and global change-makers respond directly to those videos throughout the conference. This year, we're opening up the conference even further by allowing you to share your ideas using our new Moderator tool which will be incorporated into three different panel discussions at Davos. Go to the Davos channel ( to submit your ideas and questions.

Loic LeMeur will bring your questions to his panel on the growing influence of social networks; Rima Maktabi of Al Arabiya will use your ideas on her televised panel on the balance of power in the Middle East, and Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times will include your thoughts in the debate over female genital mutiliation, a panel which will feature the winner of our "Your Pitch to the World" contest, Julia Lalla-Maharajh.

And as usual, we'll be streaming your questions at our YouTube booth at Davos, too.

One value of the Moderator tool is that it allows you to engage via video and text. You can also vote up the most important ideas and questions submitted by others to help determine which issues you want the panelists to address. We used the same platform in Copenhagen for the CNN/YouTube Debate on climate change, and will continue to use it in 2010 as a way to bring your participation to televised events.

Go to and join the discussion now. Here's more information about each panel, including the deadlines for submission:

January 20: The Growing Influence of Social Networks
  • Host: Loic LeMeur (Seesmic), Jack Dorsey (Twitter), Reid Hoffmann (LinkedIn), Owen van Natta (MySpace), Gina Bianchini (Ning), and others

January 21: The Balance of Power in the Middle East
  • Host: Rima Maktabi (Al Arabiya)

January 30: YouTube Debate on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
  • Host: Nicholas Kristof (The New York Times)

Steve Grove, Head of News and Politics, recently watched "Al Arabiya Debate"

Friday, January 22, 2010

Ever wonder what it's like to plan the President's travel?

When President Obama decides to travel outside Washington, all most people see is the speech he gives. But imagine what it must be like to coordinate the travel of the world's most powerful leader. Security, logistics, media... it's an undertaking that requires hundreds of people and thousands of man hours. Here's a great behind the scenes look that the White House just posted detailing one of the more interesting and stressful places to work in government: the Presidential Advance team.

Live Tonight: Top Artists Perform in "Hope for Haiti Now" Benefit Concert

Over the past week, citizens and organizations from around the world have rallied around Haiti, offering tremendous aid for the relief effort currently underway. But even though tens of millions of dollars have been raised online via sites like YouTube, Haiti's road to recovery will be long, and more financial support is desperately needed.

That's why tonight, in partnership with a variety of media companies, we're live-streaming "Hope for Haiti Now," a benefit concert for earthquake relief. Hosted by George Clooney, Wyclef Jean and Anderson Cooper, the event will feature performances by Justin Timberlake, Jay-Z, Rihanna, Shakira, U2, Coldplay, Taylor Swift and many more.

The concert starts tonight at 8 p.m. ET on, and it will be available to a global audience. Donations from the event will go to a number of different organizations, including the Red Cross, UNICEF, the UN World Food Program, Partners in Health, Yele Haiti and Oxfam. After the show, you can continue to donate money and get the latest information coming out of Haiti at our Crisis Response landing page.

Cross-posted to the YouTube blog

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Year One Review: The U.S. Government on YouTube

It's been one year since the U.S. government came to YouTube with the launch of the official White House YouTube channel and President Obama's inaugural address. Soon after, we launched our Senate and House Hubs with the U.S. Congress, and then we brought the entire federal government to the site on On the heels of a presidential election in which YouTube became a key tool for most political campaigns, politicians took their lessons from 2008 and started applying them to governing. The results were interesting and, at times, quite surprising.

Here are some of the highlights, statistics, and milestones of year one of the U.S. government on YouTube:

The White House:

  • The White House ended it's first year on YouTube with 21 million video views and close to 100,000 subscribers.
  • President Obama's first YouTube Weekly Address brought FDR's fireside chats into the 21st Century.
  • The White House's July health care townhall, brought in 300 citizen-submitted video questions for the President to answer in a live townhall.
  • Some of the most talked-about videos from the President focused on international diplomacy, including his Nowruz message directed Iranian citizens and government, his speech to the Muslim world in Cairo, his video addressing Turkish Parliament, and his Ramadan and Diwali holiday greetings.

The U.S. Congress

  • A total of 430 Members of Congress have started YouTube channels to inform and engage with their constituents.
  • Capitol Hill caught up with YouTube trends, learning the power of the viral hit, the mash-up, and even cat videos.
  • Though the Democrats captured the majority of the seats in Congress, 89% of Republicans have channels, compared to just 74% of Democrats. In yesterday's big win for the GOP in Massachusetts, Scott Brown's campaign had an undoubtedly superior YouTube channel to his opponent Martha Coakley.
  • Eight of the top 10 most-viewed and most-subscribed YouTube channels in Congress are from the GOP.
  • The House seems to be using YouTube more effectively than the Senate - only one Senator makes the list of most-viewed and most-subscribed channels.

Top 10 most-subscribed YouTube channels (in order):

  • Representative Alan Grayson (D-FL)
  • Representative Ron Paul (R-TX)
  • Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
  • Representative John Boehner (R-OH)
  • Representative Randy Forbes (R-VA)
  • Representative Mike Rogers (R-MI)
  • Representative Michele Bachmann (R-MN)
  • Representative Eric Cantor (R-VA)
  • Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC)
  • Representative Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI)

Top 10 most-viewed

  • Representative Mike Rogers (R-MI)
  • Representative Alan Grayson (D-FL)
  • Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
  • Representative Randy Forbes (R-VA)
  • Representative Eric Cantor (R-VA)
  • Representative John Boehner (R-OH)
  • Representative Tom Price (R-GA)
  • Representative Don Manzullo (R-IL)
  • Representative Don Young (R-AL)
  • Representative Ron Paul (R-TX)

The Federal Government

  • Over 150 federal agencies have started YouTube channels since our agreement went into place on May 22.
  • The State Department continues to use YouTube in innovative ways, such as the Democracy Video Challenge, the Alliance of Youth Movements, and videos like this one from Secretary Clinton about 21st Secretary Statecraft.
  • In summer 2009, HHS launched an H1N1 Flu PSA contest on YouTube - the first-ever effort by the government to get citizens to create PSAs. The winning video as voted by the YouTube community was from a doctor whose H1N1 rap made him an Internet celebrity for a few months.
  • The IRS Channel on YouTube features dozens of videos informing people about new credits and deductions and other changes in the tax law.
  • NASA's Astronauts used YouTube and Twitter to take questions from space, the Library of Congress started uploading it's archives (check out this video of a sneeze from 1894), and the CDC uploaded emergency preparedness clips.

- Steve Grove, Head of News and Politics

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

YouTube joins John King on TV series, "The Future of News"

Last December, I joined John King from CNN at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., for a half-hour television show on the future of television news, hosted by Frank Sesno. The show was part of a 10-part series put on by the Newseum, in partnership with American Public Television (with a grant from Ford). We were the final show, and our conversation brought together emerging trends in new media and how they're affecting TV. The series is out of post production now and is being broadcast on participating member stations across the country.

Though I went into the taping thinking that I'd have to defend the role of new media in today's news landscape (a role we often have to take in these discussions), I should have known better: both John and Frank use new media often in their programming - John leverages CNN's iReport, and Frank (a veteran journalist) runs Planet Forward, a start-up he began with a grant from the Knight Foundation to solicit UGC videos on climate change for use on PBS. Both of them defaulted towards seeing opportunity rather than challenge in the power of the Internet to collect and distribute news from new sources. The Newseum is posting a few clips from the show on YouTube; here's one in which we talked about citizen reporting on YouTube, particularly in Iran.

I think by far the most exciting possibilities in TV news today are when TV harnesses the power of the Internet in a meaningful way. That means both sharing content, so that content creators can reach their audiences more effectively and efficiently on platforms like YouTube, but also integrated programming that really leverages the best of audience contribution and participation. Hybrid models of user engagement like our debate in Copenhagen last fall at the COP-15 summit, or even lighter, more experimental partnerships like the one we did with Good Morning America to solicit user-generated Thanksgiving videos, show a new way forward where TV and the web can each play to their core strengths to create fluid, more expansive, and more compelling programming opportunities for viewers.

We discussed these types of partnerships near the end of this clip:

Republicans rally around Brown on YouTube

As Republicans across the country celebrate the victory of Scott Brown in the Massachusetts Senate special election yesterday and Democrats mourn the loss of Martha Coakley, they're turning to YouTube to share their feelings. User Zack Silverman encourages Democrats to fight back, while this Massachussets voter, congratulates Brown on his win and is greeted by positive comments:

And voters aren't the only ones patting Brown on the back. Other Republican candidates have quickly posted YouTube videos in support of Brown, eager to align themselves. Here's one from Adam Andrzejewski, who is running for Governor of Illinois:

Last week, we noted Brown's solid use of YouTube to reach voters (his popularity continued to grow on the site, as a video posted yesterday already has 114,000 views), so it's no surprise that Republicans like Andrzejewski are hopping on the Brown bandwagon. And other candidates are already running Promoted Video ads likening themselves to Brown on YouTube. A search for "Massachusetts" yielded this one:

It's clear that Republicans are getting serious about new media campaigning, and it'll be interesting to see if the Democrats can re-capture some of that 2008 magic and come back strong online in the rest of the 2010 elections.

Vote on 2010's Most Critical Issue

Exactly one year ago today, Barack Obama took office as President of the United States -- and what a year it's been. From the economic crisis and the battle over health care, to the global challenge of climate change and the threat of terrorism at home and abroad, 2009 was a challenging one for the country, and most Americans would agree the nation is facing some of our biggest and most complex challenges in decades.

Today on our homepage we're featuring analysis of the President's first year from Fox News, PBS News Hour and Agence France-Presse. We're also asking you to weigh in on which issue should be the top priority for the country in 2010, and what you think should be done about it.

With our new Google Moderator tool, you can submit your ideas in both video and text on CitizenTube and vote on your favorites submitted by others. We'll promote the most popular submissions on YouTube in the lead-up to the President's annual State of the Union address, which we'll be streaming live on YouTube next Wednesday night, January 27, 2010, at 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT.

Steve Grove, Head of News and Politics, recently watched "President Obama's Inaugural Address"

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Petition to Free Imprisoned Iranian Hikers Launches on YouTube

Siblings of the three hikers who have been imprisoned in Iran after accidentally wandering over the border last year have started a compelling personal appeal on YouTube to raise awareness for their cause. Alex Fattal, brother of hiker Josh Fattal, produced this video asking for video responses to make an appeal to the Iranian government to free the three UC Berkeley graduates, who haven't been heard from directly since their imprisonment almost six months ago.

If you haven't heard of the plight of these three hikers, it's worth checking out their webiste at The three hikers, Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal, were hiking (with visas) in the mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan, which have become attractive to Western tourists of late, when they accidentally wandered over the border into Iran and were imprisoned, according to news reports. Unlike the case of Laura Ling and Euna Lee in North Korea last year, the case of these three hikers hasn't attained as much national attention - which is presumably part of the reason for this grassroots effort to raise awareness for their cause.

Their goal is to collect video responses from people by January 31st (the official 6 month anniversary) to raise awareness for the cause. The siblings have also set up a website at where you can learn more about their cause. A fourth friend, Shon Meckfessel, who was travelling with the group but stayed behind on the day they were captured due to an illness, is quoted on the website about the video call-out:

“If ever there was even the slightest doubt that we were in Iraqi Kurdistan to relax and have fun, this should surely remove it. I hope the Iranian authorities see these clips, realize my friends are harmless young people who may have made a simple mistake and let them come home.”

Monday, January 18, 2010

Wyclef turns to YouTube to respond to criticism of Yele Haiti

With millions of dollars already raised for his nonprofit organization, Yele Haiti, Haitian-born musician Wyclef Jean has emerged as the face of celebrity fundraising for earthquake relief efforts. In the past few days, however, there have been multiple accusations about Yele Haiti's questionable financial record - including allegations that Wyclef is personally benefitting from the charity.

In response, Wyclef turned to YouTube to clarify matters for the public. See his video statement here, which has already racked up over 230,000 views and over 2000 comments in two days:

In the past, we've seen politicians and corporations turn to YouTube to respond to accusations or clarify information, but this is definitely the first time an NGO has been thrust into the spotlight in such a major way, and turned to YouTube to set the story straight.

Unfortunately, it's not quite clear whether Wyclef has really set the story straight in this video. While his work in Haiti is definitely commendable, he doesn't respond provide much specific detail about Yele's hazy financial record. But he does say, "the proof is in the pudding" with promises to post footage of Yele's work in the coming days.

Wyclef, we'll be standing by.

Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King Through His Words

Dr. King, one of the United States' most beloved national heroes, led the nation through the struggles of the civil rights movement with great courage and impassioned oration. Today, in honor of Martin Luther King Day, the Washington Post is inviting people to share videos illustrating which of Dr. King's words inspired them most. We're showcasing videos on the homepage today that feature portions of his speeches -- both the familiar and the lesser-known -- as performed by users. User baratunde recites a section of a speech delivered by Dr. King at Riverside Church on April 4, 1967, condemning the Vietnam War: Just about every schoolchild in the United States, and many around the world, has heard Martin Luther King's speeches and listened to the messages within. Do you have a favorite section or phrase that you find particularly moving, inspirational, thought-provoking or even controversial? What are you memories or impressions of Dr. King and the words he left behind? The Washington Post is still collecting videos from its readers and the YouTube community, which they will feature on Visit the Washington Post site to submit your own using YouTube Direct. Olivia Ma, News and Politics Manager, recently watched "Nov. 2, 1983: Reagan Approves MLK Day."

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Incredible footage of explosion during Baltimore city fire

Pretty incredible footage here, captured by a bystander who happened to be filming a house fire near his home. There's lots of video of fires uploaded to YouTube every week, but it's not every day that you capture a moment like this one. This citizen reporter is recording what's happening as fire fighters try to get inside of the door as flames leap out of the front door, and then, about 8 seconds into the video there's a massive explosion and the fire fighters are blown backwards.

The footage gives you a real, unfiltered perspective into just how dangerous it really is to be a firefighter.

It appears from the comments on the video that the owner has other footage from the scene -- perhaps after the explosion? -- that he has removed from YouTube. He writes in the comments:

Hckybiz: "I just spoke with a member from the BCFD & he is having me make some of the footage private. I was unaware that Flashover was a rare event & that fact that it was caught on tape is even more extraordinary

The footage is being used in the investigation and people were hurt during the filming, so I want to make sure I have permission to show the entire footage of the fire.

Once I have the all clear, the rest of the footage will be made public for everyone to view.

Thanks for your understanding."

Right after that, user qball107, presumably a Baltimore City firefighter himself, responds to another comment (which appears to have been removed by the owner - likely for being offensive):

qball107: "how do you love it....That was my first due and i got off work 20 mins before that happend. I talked to the Lt before that box came out and now he is in the hospital because of what the fuck can you say u love it"
It also appears from the comments that this video was picked up by the local Baltimore news.

We'll be watching to see if hckybiz posts the additional footage he captured.

Port-au-Prince: Before the earthquake

What was only meant as a tourist video of the street scenes of Port-au-Prince is now a chilling reminder of what life was like before the earthquake hit Haiti this week. This clip, shot by a Japanese tourist, shows the bustling streets of the Haitian capitol in Mid-December 2009... the bustling streets seem eerily calm in comparison to what's unfolded since. View counts on this one have been rising quickly over the past few days as people discover a simple look back into pre-earthquake Haiti through the eyes of a tourist just one month ago.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Gripping Videos, Calls for Help, Dominate YouTube in Wake of Haitian Tragedy

In the three days since the 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti, we've continued to see hundreds of thousands of people using YouTube to share information and donate money to help those suffering in one of the worst tragedies in recent memory. Since Tuesday, the American Red Cross has been featured on our homepage, collecting donations through videos like this one, which encourages people to give via a Google Checkout link next to the video. The International Red Cross just posted an update to YouTube (embedded below), detailing the situation on the ground. Their message? Goods are on the way, but more money is needed. Oxfam, Concern Worldwide and UNICEF have uploaded similar pleas.

Others have come to YouTube with personal appeals. First Lady Michelle Obama, Jimmy Buffett and Lenny Kravitz are just a few of the figures who are rallying support on YouTube. And people on the ground continue to put a very personal face on the tragedy, filming their experiences with shaky hand-held cameras.

Journalists are also uploading videos that bear witness to the devastation. Reporters like Dave Price at CBS and Rich Matthews of the AP are uploading individual vlogs from the streets of Port-au-Prince, and clips like this one from the AP give a bird's eye view of the damage (warning: this is difficult to watch):

On the ground, videos like this one give us just a glimpse into what life is like right now for Haitian citizens -- through the eyes of a person struggling to make sense of the destruction:

We're keeping CitizenTube updated with the latest clips and are contributing videos to Google's Earthquake Relief landing page as well. Though it could never match the resolve of Haitian citizens struggling to survive in the streets of Port-au-Prince and elsewhere, the outpouring of support on YouTube and elsewhere is encouraging in this time of great crisis.

Cross posted on the YouTube blog

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

In Aftermath of Haiti Earthquake, Reports and Donation Appeals Flood YouTube

As reports of unimaginable devastation continue to come out of Haiti in the wake of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck yesterday, footage of the disaster has been streaming onto YouTube, along with calls for help from nonprofit and aid organizations working on the ground. Haiti's president Rene Preval told the Miami Herald that the death toll is likely in the thousands, and images of collapsed buildings, a dilapidated presidential palace, and enormous piles of rubble in the streets bear witness to a truly catastrophic earthquake -- the worst in 200 years in the region.

We're keeping a running playlist of the video footage coming out of Haiti on Citizentube; there's a broad collection of citizen reports and news wire clips. We're also promoting videos from nonprofits who can help. The American Red Cross is asking for donations via a call-to-action overlay in this video, and Oxfam is using annotations in this one to direct you to their donation site:

As personal stories of the victims of the earthquake continue to pour in, our thoughts go out to all Haitians in this time of great need. We'll continue to update Citizentube with footage from the ground as events progress.

Cross-posted on the YouTube Blog

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Which of Martin Luther King Jr.'s words moved you most?

Martin Luther King Day is just around the corner on January 18, and to honor of Dr. King' s legacy, the Washington Post is inviting its readers and the YouTube community to share which of his words are most memorable and why.

Using YouTube Direct, you can submit your YouTube video response on the Washington Post's own website. Washington Post editors will be sifting through your submissions and keeping an eye out for a selection to be featured on both the YouTube homepage and on on Monday, MLK Day.

Here's a video of some of the Washington Post's star journalists reciting a portion of the famous "I Have a Dream" speech:

Dr. King inspired many people from all walks of life while he lived, and his great orations have ensured that his legacy will live on for generations. Just about every schoolchild in the United States, and many around the world, have heard his speeches and listened to the messages within, So what parts moved you? Do you have a favorite section that means something special? Or a phrase that you find particularly moving or powerful or thought-provoking, or even controversial? What are you memories or impressions of Dr. King and the words he left behind?

We want to hear your voices.

There's not a lot of time, so we hope you'll get started on your video soon. Visit the Washington Post site to see other videos and to submit your own.

And here's a link to some of Dr. King's most famous speeches.

YouTube in Russia: "Whatever it was, still is - News."

Okay, so Google Translator didn't quite get the title right (I'm not sure what "Whatever it was, still is - News" means exactly) but you can still get the gist of the conversation we had with in our recent visit to Moscow in this Q&A they just published to their site. My conversation with Andrey Annenkov was one of the more fascinating ones I had in Russia. A thoughtful journalist who's concerned about the state of the media in Russia, Andrey asked several questions about YouTube's role the news today, which he laid out well in his post.

Many Russian journalists I spoke with, including Andrey, tend to think that due to the youth of the Russian media industry, their audiences are less sophisticated than ours and therefore more susceptible to "bad" information - so the flood of unverifiable content on YouTube makes them nervous. In addition, Andrey and others were hard to convince that YouTube didn't have a political agenda - most every Russia newspaper does, so how can a platform like YouTube really be just about free expression when it comes to politics? Andrey's first question to me was, "So, Google is getting into journalism now?"

When the interview was over I asked him whether he thought the net benefit of a platform like YouTube outweighed the challenges it presented traditional media platforms, and he said "yes" without hesitation. The challenge, he felt, was showing the Russian government that technologies like YouTube make a difference in the public debate over issues. Maybe more videos like the viral confessional by a disgruntled Russian policeman late last fall will help shift that perception.

Monday, January 11, 2010

YouTube Face-off: MA Senate Special Election

With only about a week to go to before the Massachusetts Senate special election to replace the late Ted Kennedy, Republican Scott Brown and Democrat Martha Coakley are turning up the heat online to court voters. Today, we examine how the candidates stack up based on their YouTube presence in various categories:

Category: Videos

Coakley: Some of Coakley's videos include this heartfelt thank-you video made for her volunteers and this one which clearly lays out how she plans to help small businesses:

Brown: Brown's videos range from the serious, like this one about Cap and Trade (part of a larger issue series), to the less austere like this video titled, "Freezin' for a Reason" from his volunteers.
Winner: Brown. While Coakley has a few creative videos, most of her channel is comprised of TV spots and event footage - Brown has experimented with more videos that go outside the :30 second window to discuss the issues and connect with voters.

Category: Endorsements

Coakley: She has posted several endorsements from influential organizations like the AFL-CIO, Massachusetts Sierra Club and local politicians like Congresswoman Nikki Tsongas.
Brown: Brown has a few videos from local voters showing his support from the grassroots, as well as an endorsement from Republican heavyweight John McCain:

Winner: Coakley. Coakley's support from large local groups could help her ground game, and it's not quite clear whether a McCain endorsement is a helpful thing (he lost, remember?)

YouTube Channel:

Coakley: Coakley hasn't done much to spruce up her channel - most lacking is a clear link to her website or donate page, which takes approximately 4 seconds to include.
Brown: Brown clearly has taken advantage of YouTube's "Politician" account with nice branding on his channel and a robust comments section - but doesn't using Obama's font clearly go against his anti-Barack messaging?
Winner: Brown. He may have grabbed some ideas from across the aisle, but he's using them to his advantage to create a clean, interesting channel which spurs supporters to action.

The real race might be neck and neck, but it looks like Coakley has some serious catching up to do to beat Brown in the YouTube game...

Air Force learning to parse through 24 years worth of drone video

There's an piece in today's New York Times about the massive amounts of video collected by drones flying over Afghanistan and Iraq. Since 2007, the Times reports the Air Force has collected 24 years worth of video from the drones, and is trying to figure out how to make use of it all through some of the same techniques that TV stations and YouTube uses to improve the indexing and browsibility of massive quantities of video. With over 20 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, the challenge of discovery is a big one at YouTube... so this story sounds familiar. Just like YouTube uploaders, officers assign tags to the videos to help them access the files later.

However, unlike YouTube the military gives a first scan of every video that comes in from the drones. If officers see anything that looks dangerous, they capture the image and send it to field operatives via IM. From the Times:

One [officer] never takes his eyes off the monitor, calling out possible threats to his partners, who immediately pass alerts to the field via computer chat rooms and snap screenshots of the most valuable images.

“It’s mostly through the chat rooms — that’s how we’re fighting these days,” said Col. Daniel R. Johnson, who runs the intelligence centers

Friday, January 8, 2010

Google Moderator's World Tour

[cross-posted from the Google Public Sector Blog]

Google Moderator makes it easy for organizations around the world to receive questions and input from audiences of any size. Two recent uses of Moderator show how this tool can be useful worldwide.

Across the pond in the UK, the Conservative Party is using Moderator to power their new Draft Manifesto site. They're asking citizens to post questions about their health care plans and vote on submissions from others. Party Leader David Cameron will then answer the top questions in a live webcast this Friday. With three days to go, over 1,300 people have cast more than 20,000 votes.

Moderator was also a key component of the CNN/YouTube Debate at the recent Copenhagen Climate Change Conference. Visitors worldwide submitted text and video questions for the debate through Moderator, and the top questions were answered by a panel of climate experts, including Kofi Annan, Thomas Friedman, Yves de Boer, Bjorn Lomberg and Daryl Hannah.

We believe technology can empower citizens to become involved in policy-making at all levels of government. We're excited to see this process take place around the world and across all political ideologies.

Have other examples of Google Moderator or other online tools improving the policy-making process? Let us know in the comments.

Posted by Eric Hysen, Public Sector team

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

One woman's testimonial on how she was fired by Bank of America

23-year-old Jackie Ramos, who worked as a "customer advocate" for Bank of America, posted this video after the was fired from her job, detailing the circumstances under which she was let go.

Ramos took issue with many of Bank of America's policies towards customers who had fallen behind on their payments during the recession, and started to waive the $15 "convenience" charges and $39 fees for surpassing account limits. Ramos shares her story in this 9:36 minute video, giving the blow by blow of why she started giving customers a break, how her boss confronted and fired her, and why being able to sleep at night with a clear conscience is more important to her than a job.

Ramos's genuine and articulate video diary sheds light -- albeit, from a single person's perspective -- onto the inner workings of a large corporation like Bank of America. It's already gotten a quarter of a million views to date and is worth the watch.

Caught on Camera: Face off between whaling boat and anti-whaling vessel

Earlier today, the Ady Gil, an anti-whaling speedboat, was de-bowed after being struck by a Japanese whaling ship, the Shonan Maru, off the coast of Antarctica. According to the Guardian, the Andy Gil is owned by the Sea Shepherd Conversation Society group, which regularly sends conservation groups to interfere with Japanese whale hunting fleets.

Several bystanders captured the event on camera, making for some pretty amazing eyewitness video footage.

This first one appears to have been taken from the deck of the Shonan Maru and shows the actual collision from above:

This video was taken from another vessel (the Bob Barker), which is also owned and operated by the Sea Shephard Conservation Society and was traveling with the Ady Gil. Here you can see the collision between the two boats from a distance, as well as hear the color commentary from the observers:

Monday, January 4, 2010

YouTube user captures gunshots fired at Las Vegas courthouse

Today, a man walked into a Las Vegas courthouse and opened fire, killing a court security officer and injuring a deputy U.S. marshal, CNN reports. The gunman was shot and killed soon after.

YouTube user NickyFlips, who was just exiting the courthouse after a jury summons, captured the scene on tape (note: the camera work is shaky but you can definitely hear shots being fired):

Wanted: Creative Content to Support the Arts on YouTube

With awards shows like the Golden Globes, Grammys and Oscars just around the corner, it will soon be the season to celebrate some of the world's most high-profile artistic achievements. But on YouTube, many of you celebrate the arts every day -- for example, you might favorite a video that features a grade-school chorus, watch a film in the Screening Room, or upload a video of your recent dance performance.

At the same time, organizations that support the arts -- from museums to orchestras, ballet companies to musical education programs -- are sorely in need of funding and promotion. That's where you can help. YouTube Video Volunteers and guest curator Dr. Phil want you to create a video that shines the spotlight on an organization that advances the arts in your community or on the national stage. The top three video creators will see their name in lights on the YouTube homepage at the end of the month. Watch this video to learn more and hear how Dr. Phil is supporting the arts himself:

We hope you'll use your artistic talents to help your favorite organization. You could write a song in favor of your city's modern art museum or make a short film about a nonprofit that supports music in schools. Use your creativity to make sure that the arts continue to flourish.

Submissions are due on January 23 and can be entered at