Face-blurring is a useful technology, as it makes identifying a person in a video pretty much impossible. It also makes your videos look more like footage from COPS, my personal aspiration with every video I shoot.
In all seriousness, though, this isn’t a goofy toy, but done to help YouTube be more human-rights friendly.
Mason told Ars that YouTube began to “seriously discuss and pursue” the feature at the 2011 Silicon Valley Human Rights Conference. She also credited activists and human rights organizations, specifically the 2011 Witness Cameras Everywhere report, for pushing for this kind of feature.
It’s important for any number of reasons. The most basic is that police departments have tried to pull down videos of officer misconduct for years by claiming the officer’s right to privacy was violated or by claiming it was a form of wiretapping. Both claims are legally spurious at best, but now YouTube has given citizen journalists a tool to avoid getting dragged into court by a police department all butthurt over being caught beating somebody senseless just because they can.
It’s not a perfect tool, obviously — if your footage is really shaky, the tool basically doesn’t work. So get a stabilizer if you want to shoot video you’ll blur later, or invest in some decent editing software.
But it’s nice to see YouTube including tools that will actually help the world a little bit. Now if you could bring back that whole “forcing-people-to-hear-their-comment-before-posting” thing, guys, that’d be great.
Image courtesy Sam Da Plant on Flickr