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Protests Captured Unfiltered

  • June 02, 2020

Charlie: Yes. You’re hearing and seeing a lot from protesters — and it’s unfiltered, from the sources and without gatekeepers. When you see night after night that endless stream of videos online, you can’t hide from it. There’s a raw power in that, and it feels like exactly the point of these internet platforms.

We have had other social movements documented in real time online.

Yeah, I’m wary of casting this as a turning point. The Occupy Wall Street protests a decade ago, protests against police brutality in Ferguson, Mo., and the deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., were widely documented online by participants and observers. There hasn’t been a lot of large-scale change since.

But the collective experience of the last few days does feel new to me as an observer.

(Read Charlie’s latest column on this. “There are no other channels to watch, no distractions. We must bear witness,” he wrote.)

I feel like there’s another “but” coming from you.

Self-broadcast creates an important historical record and serves as a powerful tool to document systemic abuse. BUT, unfortunately, it goes in two directions. When you lose the gatekeepers, you can also lose context of any event or fact, making it easy for anyone to interpret it to fit their worldview.

What I see as hundreds of instances of righteous protest and police escalation might be seen by others as proof of lawlessness and chaos. They’re taking the worst of the protests and using it to sow further division. That’s the nightmare scenario: There are two versions of the world, about everything.

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