Chapter on sousveillance in Routledge Encyclopedia of citizen media

I have a chapter on sousveillance in the Routledge Encyclopedia of Citizen Media, which was published a few weeks ago. Many thanks to Mona, Bolette, Henry and Luis for all their hard work bringing this together.

The abstract for my chapter is below:

Sousveillance

Paul Reilly, University of Sheffield, UK

The use of social media by citizens to ‘bear witness’ to traumatic events is illustrative of the new forms of digital citizenship that have emerged in the past decade (Allan et al. 2013, Isin and Huppert 2015). This entry will focus specifically on one such digital act, namely how social media platforms can be used to create and share acts of sousveillance, a form of ‘inverse surveillance’ that empowers citizens through their use of technology to ‘access and collect data about their surveillance’ (Mann et al. 2003: 333). The two primary forms of sousveillance, hierarchical and personal, will be critically evaluated with reference to a number of prominent examples. These will include the #BlackLivesMatter campaign to focus attention upon violent police attacks upon African-Americans since 2014 (Freelon et al. 2016), as well as the use of YouTube by eyewitnesses to highlight alleged police brutality during the so-called ‘Battle of Stokes Croft’ that occurred in Bristol, England, in April 2011. In particular, the entry will consider how audience responses to acts of police brutality shared on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are influenced by news media coverage of these incidents. Previous research has indicated that the sharing of sousveillance footage online may raise as many questions about the behaviour of the alleged victims as it does of the police (Reilly 2015). It concludes by considering whether sousveillant practices facilitated via social media constitute a shift in informational power from nation-states to marginalized groups.

References

Allan, S. (2013) Citizen Witnessing: Revisioning Journalism in Times of Crisis. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Freelon, D., C. D. McIlwain. and M. D. Clark (2016) Beyond the Hashtags: #Ferguson, #Blacklivesmatter, and the Online Struggle for Offline Justice, Washington D.C.: Center for Media and Social Impact, American University.

Isin, E. and E. Ruppert (2015) Being Digital Citizens, London: Rowman and Littlefield International.

Mann, S., J. Nolan and B. Wellman (2003) ‘Sousveillance: Inventing and Using Wearable Computing Devices for Data Collection in Surveillance Environments’, Surveillance & Society 1(3): 331-355.

Reilly, P. (2015) ‘Every Little helps? YouTube, Sousveillance and the ‘Anti-Tesco’ Riot in Bristol’, New Media and Society 17(5): 755-771.

Doc Media Centre sousveillance newsroom

Sousveillance newsroom, Doc Media Centre, 18 September 2020

On 18 September 2020, the Doc Media Centre hosted a sousveillance newsroom.

Dr. Aliaksandr Herasimenka (Oxford Internet Institute) spoke about his ongoing research on how digital media is used by activists in Belarus. He has provided expert commentary on how Telegram and other digital media platforms have been used in the recent protests against President Alexander Lukashenko.

Aliaksandr talking to John and I about his research on Belarus

In a wide-ranging discussion, we discussed the role of women in the protests and how activists have used digital media to record and share experiences of heavy-handed policing.For more on Aliaksandr’s work, please check out his list of recent media appearances here and follow him on Twitter

Jenny Hayes (University of Sheffield) spoke about her PhD research on how NGOs have used Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to distribute evidence of Israeli brutality against Palestinians in the Middle East.

Jenny talking to John and I about her research on Palestinian sousveillance

Jenny has written a blogpost about her project and you can follow her on Twitter

Thanks to Aliaksandr and Jenny for speaking to us. We have created a resource list and dedicated page where you can find out more about sousveillance here

Post on social media sousveillance

Screenshot 2020-06-08 at 12.12.11

 

I have written a post for Human: Putting the Social into Science on the social media sousveillance footage recorded during the Black Lives Matter protests across the world. I argue that although this footage may not guarantee the conviction of the officers responsible caught on camera attacking protesters, it clearly provides a focal point for the broad coalition of protesters mobilised in anger at the police killing of George Floyd. Thanks to Laura Lightfinch, Sophie Armour and Victoria Wood for their help with this. The piece can be read here

New article published on social media and sousveillance

I have a new article in the journal First Monday out today. Entitled ‘PSNIRA vs. peaceful protesters? YouTube, ‘sousveillance’ and the policing of the union flag protests,’ it explores how Youtubers responded to footage of alleged police brutality during the union flag protests in Northern Ireland between December 2012 and March 2013. 

Drawing on a qualitative analysis of 1,586 comments posted under 36 ‘sousveillance’ videos, I argue that responses to these videos were shaped by competing narratives on the legitimacy of police actions during the flag protests. This footage focussed attention on the anti-social behaviour of the protesters rather than the alleged police brutality referred to in the video descriptions. The paper concludes by considering the problematic nature of exploring imagined sousveillance, as was the case here, through the collection and analysis of ‘easy data’ scraped from online platforms such as YouTube. The paper can be accessed here

LSE British Politics and Policy blogpost on YouTube, sousveillance and protests in Northern Ireland

I have written an article for the LSE British Politics and Policy blog, which examines how social media was used to share footage of alleged Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) brutality against loyalists in Northern Ireland. This post highlights some of the findings from my British Academy funded project ‘YouTube, sousveillance and the policing of union flag protests in Northern Ireland, British Academy’ (Grant reference: SG132416). It can be accessed here

New essay in Book of Blogs

I have just had an essay entitled “The Battle of Stokes Croft on YouTube: The ethical challenges associated with the study of online comments” published in a ‘Book of Blogs.’

More details on the Book of Blogs (published by NatCen in conjunction with SAGE) can be found below:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Social-Media-Research-Blurring-Boundaries-ebook/dp/B00OYBUOCA

An earlier version of this essay can be found here

Presentation at ‘Scoping Questions of Privacy, Surveillance and Governance in the Digital Society,’

Yesterday I spoke at an event at the University of Sheffield focussing on questions of privacy, surveillance and governance in the Digital Society My presentation is below:

Other speakers at the event included Professor Clive Norris (Sheffield), Professor Kirstie Ball (Open University), Dr Andrew McStay (Bangor) and Dr Vian Bakir (Bangor). Thanks to John Steele and Jo Bates for the invitation and for organising an extremely interesting day – hopefully more to come!

New British Academy project on YouTube, sousveillance and the policing of flag protests in Northern Ireland

My British Academy funded project entitled YouTube, sousveillance, and the policing of flag protests in Northern Ireland’ will start early next month. I will be recruiting two research assistants to work on the project over the next few months (I will post details of these posts in July).

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The University of Leicester has issued a press release about the project:

http://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/press/press-releases/2014/may/youtube-footage-of-northern-irish-protests-to-be-explored

If you have any questions about the project please feel free to contact me via email (pr93@le.ac.uk)

 

PSA Blog on ethical challenges associated with study of online comments

I have written a blogpost on the ethical stance I developed for my study of YouTube, sousveillance and the Stokes Croft riot. It can be accessed on the Political Studies Association site here: http://www.psa.ac.uk/insight-plus/blog/battle-stokes-croft-youtube-ethical-challenges-associated-study-online-comments