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YouTube adds face-blurring tool to protect activists




YouTube has introduced new technology that allows users to blur the faces of the people in its videos.

In a blog post, YouTube policy associate Amanda Conway explained the reasoning behind the new tool: "Whether you want to share sensitive protest footage without exposing the faces of the activists involved, or share the winning point in your 8-year-old’s basketball game without broadcasting the children’s faces to the world, our face blurring technology is a first step towards providing visual anonymity for video on YouTube."

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The technology appears to be similar to the technology that Google uses to protect the identifies of people photographed by its Street View cars, Wired News reported. YouTube and other social media have become increasingly important to activists trying to overthrow their governments across the world. In one recent example, Wired reported today that one YouTube channel is being used to train Syrian rebels.  

The face-blurring feature, which creates a new copy of the video with the blur effect and then gives users the option to delete the original copy, should reduce the chance that human rights activists will be caught by their government, Information Week reported. After applying the face-blurring filter, YouTube uploaders can check a video frame-by-frame to see if the feature works. 

In a separate blog post, Google provides careful instructions for how to use the tool most effectively.