1 min readMedia censorship and the Syrian Archive

The Syrian Archive is discovering that much of the videos from the war are being deleted automatically by AI. How will this affect the way we see, and understand the past, present, and future?

The Syrian War is one of the most documented wars in human history. Thanks to millions of videos and photos coming from local journalists and ordinary citizens affected by the war, we now know that war crimes and human rights violations abound. In order to preserve the evidence, Syrian technologist Hadi Al-Khatib began collecting, verifying, and categorizing the digital media coming from the war. And while millions come to their attention, Al-Khatib knows that a million more are being deleted automatically by Facebook and YouTube for violating rules against extreme graphic violence.

The problem here lies, not only on the evidences getting lost, but also on who (or what) makes the decision on what gets published and what doesn’t. Today, such a decision relies mostly on AI, which has no capacity for contextual decision making. Are we allowing computers to determine how we see and understand the past, present, and future? How can this same concern be applied to all other political unrests such as those happening in Hongkong, Spain, and Chile? 

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