Have you ever heard of Bellingcat
, an open-source investigative agency? It was founded by Eliot Higgins
, a British researcher and citizen journalist. They bacame the center of attention recently, when Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny published a 51-minute video describing in detail the plot of Russia’s secret service to poison him. Bellingcat dived into the darkerst corners of the internet to retrieve data about telephone records, geolocation and personnel files. All of them helped them to put together the chronology of this bold attempt to kill the most powerful opposition figure in Russia. The video presenting the results of their investigation was seen by 22m viewers, something impossible to have imagined in the pre-internet time.
“In his view, the internet remains an astonishing resource for helping redress the power imbalances between the rulers and the ruled. History is no longer just written by the winners, but filmed by the losers on their smartphones.” – states John Thornhill
for Financial Times
describing Eliot Higgins. He continues: “We may be settling into a new era of steely eyed realism in which civil society fights back against dominant state and corporate interests.”
Relatively cheap access to modern technology enables more and more people to take the power of story-telling into their hands. Politicians and regulators become aware of the power of citizen journalism and the changes it may bring.
Two books Reset: Reclaiming the Internet for Civil Society
by Ronald J Deibert and We Are Bellingcat
by the formerly mentioned Eliot Higgins, dive deeper into the topic. Ronald J Deibert is the director of the Citizen Lab at the Munk School at the University of Toronto and focuses on the ways how civil society can mobilise to loosen the state and corporate grip over the internet. Higgins tell the story of the origins of Bellingcat and explains the name – taken from an old fairy-tale in which mice hung a bell on cat’s neck so that they would always hear him approaching. Bellingcat is not in any way supposed to replace journalism as we know it, but expand it and provide additional resources. It can work as a firewall against misinformation, by identifying, verifying and amplifying new evidence.
We’re on the same mission as Bellingcat at YouNewsNow, and we believe that internet gives us power to call out on lies, corruption, injustice and human rights violation. You have the “weapon” in your hand – your phone with a camera. It’s in your power to use it.
Based on article from Financial Times