Contra Media Ecosystems of Control
Social media and other user-generated content platforms - sometimes referred to as “web 2.0” - promised to empower individuals from around the world by providing new communication channels to bypass traditional media gatekeepers. The ability for internet users to instantly upload content gave rise to an unprecedented look into political rallies, natural disasters, and military conflicts, but also daily life unfolding around the globe. People flocked to such platforms, so much so that, today, hundreds of hours of video content is added to social media platforms like YouTube each minute, while streaming services like Facebook Live have racked up over 2 billion viewers.
Despite the egalitarian accolades heaped upon early content platforms startups, access to this new world of media has become unbalanced and asymmetrical. Over the past decade, this power has become centralized and entrenched. Motivated by profit maximization and an ever-expanding quest for new markets, these corporate giants have made Faustian deals with governments around the world to keep their services streaming into some of the world’s most repressive regimes. As such, these great content repositories of the modern area have become tools of control rather than the once-heralded "platforms of the people". Digital artifacts uploaded to the major social platforms are regulated by both a country’s laws and companies’ own internal content guidelines; and while the amount of mobile media traversing these global platforms is stunning, little attention is paid to their respect for human rights or longevity of access to uploaded content.
Despite their popularity, the world can not count on global technology companies to have their users' backs. Activists and technologists must forge their own paths by building new technologies and leveraging grassroots communities. OpenArchive was born out of the need for a mobile tool that offers secure, long-term storage of photos, video, and audio captured on mobile devices. Our tool seeks to solve the issues related to keeping people and their media safe, sustaining legacy access to, and providing verifiable authenticity of content. In high-risk situations, this need becomes even more profound. Human rights defenders, citizen journalists, and front-line activists are being targeted on social media and do not have safe, alternative ways to manage and store their sensitive mobile media. In some cases, being digitally compromised can impact an individual’s freedom and well-being.
Whose Media? Our Media!
Before users learn the hard way that they cannot trust YouTube, Facebook, iCloud, Google Photos and other corporate platforms with valued and sensitive digital media, we provide an alternative secure archiving solution at scale. To further this goal, OpenArchive works with Guardian Project, who specialize in creating secure, open source technologies. Through this partnership, along with security usability experts, we will double our efforts to provide our global community with an easy-to-use, secure archiving application that empowers users to circumvent threats to freedom of expression such as device confiscation, network blocking, internet shutdowns, and more. OpenArchive is working towards secure, ethical, and usable solutions for you and your communities.