YouTube introduces face blurring tool

19 Jul 2012

In response to a report from WITNESS, an international human rights organisation, which said that no video-sharing site currently offers users the option of blurring faces to protect people’s identity, YouTube has decided to be the first to introduce this technology.

To blur faces, users need to go to the Video Enhancements tool’s Additional Features and click ‘Apply’ for ‘Blur All Faces’. A preview of the video with all faces blurred will be shown before publishing and changes are saved as a new copy. Users then have the option to delete the original video.

The technology is not yet perfect and may sometimes miss a face or two if it’s not at the right angle for recognition or if the lighting or video quality is poor.

YouTube face blurring tool

This tool can be used to protect’s people’s identity, whether they are activists involved in protests or children caught on camera at a public event. By providing the option for anonymity, YouTube hopes that users will be encouraged to upload even more content to the site.

“Visual anonymity in video allows people to share personal footage more widely and to speak out when they otherwise may not,” said YouTube policy associate Amanda Conway on the YouTube blog. “Because human rights footage, in particular, opens up new risks to the people posting videos and to those filmed, it’s important to keep in mind other ways to protect yourself and the people in your videos.”

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.