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The Politics of Livestreaming?

BY Nancy Scola | Wednesday, June 2 2010

The New York Times' Brian Stelter has a nice look at something we noted yesterday -- how participants in the battle abroad the Gaza relief ship Mavi Marmara that involved the killing of nine activists by Israeli forces have been scrambling to use raw video footage and photos to define the incident in its aftermath. There's an interesting note in Stelter's piece about how how the activists on the ship had rigged up live video streaming before the incident, and how that got Livestream executives wondering about what their role was here:

The fact that the Mavi Marmara was able to keep streaming — and the networks were able to keep reporting — as shots were fired underscores the challenges that the authorities face in a digital age. The right-leaning Jerusalem Post reported that the Israelis had intended to “jam the signals” from the vessel and blocked cellphone traffic but could not stop satellite transmissions.

“Without an Israeli response, which came out later in the day and seemingly proved that the soldiers acted in self-defense, the media were full of one-sided reports based on Al Jazeera,” the newspaper stated. “What Israel needs to realize is that in today’s media world, every minute counts.”

The episode proved to be a challenge, too, for third parties like Livestream that provide the backbone for video viewing on the Internet. Mr. [Max] Haot [co-founder of Livestream] said Livestream thought about whether to censor the live video but decided not to, having concluded that it was “a controversial but genuine humanitarian mission.”

Still, he said, he found himself thinking that his Internet start-up needed policies in place to handle live videos of conflicts in the future. “After the events unfolded,” he said, “I spent most of my Monday wondering if we had helped terrorists or a great humanitarian cause.”