Social media surrounding instances of human rights abuse can come from all sides and perspectives. How can we contextualize, describe, and present this in an ethical way? How do we deal with dehumanizing and abusive content, such as perpetrator footage? What is the archive’s responsibility to content creators and subjects in these situations?
By Yvonne Ng, WITNESS
Social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube have become the primary way that many of us communicate and share accounts and perspectives of events. So, inevitably, archives are increasingly interested in collecting and preserving our social media as historical documents. In many cases, the historical value is clear: social movements as far-ranging as Iran’s 2009 Green Revolution and today’s Black Lives Matter have used social media in unprecedented ways to record events, exchange information, and engage others.
As archives start to collect, provide access to, and present social media collections, many ethical issues arise that need to be addressed.