Technology The scramble to archive Capitol insurrection footage before it disappears

tom_mai78101

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As a violent mob incited by President Donald Trump stormed the US Capitol on January 6, halting the procedure in Congress to formally certify Joe Biden as president-elect, a Redditor with the username Adam Lynch began a thread on the subreddit r/DataHoarder—a forum dedicated to saving data that might be erased or deleted. “Archiving videos before potential removal from various websites …” it began.

The thread included a link to upload files to Mega, a New Zealand–based cloud storage service. Within minutes, the thread was so inundated with Twitter links, Snapchat uploads, and other videos that Mega briefly shut the link down. Since it was reopened, the Reddit thread has received over 2,000 comments with detailed data from the incident.

Lynch (who asked to be identified only by username, citing death threats) is Canadian and was shocked to see the images from Washington. Having seen videos, posts, and livestreams get quickly taken down by both platforms and users afraid of repercussions in the aftermath of the Black Lives Matter protests last summer, Lynch felt an urgency to archive this new data as soon as possible: “I knew I had to start immediately.”

Livestreams were turned off by platforms and broadcast news networks during the attack on the Capitol, and companies like Facebook, YouTube, Twitch, and Twitter have since systematically removed posts that violated policies against violent or incendiary content. As Redditors send in content, Lynch has spent hours each day uploading it to Mega, as well as to offline hard drives for backup.

“If it weren’t for the [Reddit] thread, I am very confident a substantial part of this would not be kept,” Lynch says. But many others are also working to protect information before it disappears. An Instagram account, @homegrownterrorists, garnered about 242,000 followers, crowdsourcing efforts to identify members of the mob. (The account was briefly deactivated and cleared of posts; it was reactivated and started posting ordinary links to news articles on January 8. The account holder did not respond to a request for comment.) The journalism site Bellingcat, which specializes in investigations based on publicly available online material, invited the public to contribute to a publicly editable Google spreadsheet of links, and the Woke collective is protecting livestreams from being erased by publishing them on its own YouTube and Twitch accounts. Other firms, like European search engine Intelligence X, are also collecting and storing data.


Read more here. (Technology Review)

Thanks to Data Hoarders, we are able to archive footage of the Capitol riot, before it disappears from online social media sites and cloud services. Currently, these video footage are being removed because it violates their Terms of Conduct, with no paying mind to archiving for historical reasons.
 
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