Monument Lab

The New Gatekeepers: Will Google decide how we remember Syria’s Civil War?

Episode Summary

This episode we are joined by Global Voices Advocacy Director Ellery Roberts Biddle, whose article “The New Gatekeepers: Will Google Decide How We Remember Syria's Civil War” was recently published on Monument Lab’s bulletin. We discuss how big tech companies like Google and Facebook are shaping our view of the historical record of war atrocities and other traumatic events. We are also joined by Jackie Zammuto of Witness, where she is a program manager focused on video and media to defend human rights. Zammuto works with community organizations on documenting police accountability, immigrant rights, and indigenous rights.

Episode Notes

On Monument Lab’s bulletin, we recently published “The New Gatekeepers: Will Google Decide How We Remember Syria's Civil War.” Written by Global Voices Advocacy Director Ellery Roberts Biddle, “The New Gatekeepers” examines how big tech companies like Google and Facebook are shaping our view of the historical record of war atrocities and other traumatic events. These companies increasingly use artificial intelligence to handle and sometimes censor shared content on social media posted from the frontlines of conflict zones, impacting how we learn about and will remember historical events.

In her roles at Global Voices and the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, Roberts Biddle reports on and defends the rights of journalists around the world. For Monument Lab, Roberts Biddle looked specifically at a counter example, the case of the Syrian Archive, a Syrian-led group of technologists based in Berlin, seeking to organize and backup more than five million images and video files shared online from the war, including devastating images of violence and chemical attacks on civilians. This archive can be used by journalists and perhaps one day in a war crimes trials, if the regime ever faces charges.

For this episode, we are also joined by Jacke Zammuto of Witness, where she is a program manager focused on video and media to defend human rights. Zammuto works with community organizations on documenting police accountability, immigrant rights, and indigenous rights.