The video-sharing site YouTube has added a tool which can blur out the faces of people appearing in uploaded videos. The ability to do so will be of benefit to social activists.
YouTube’s new ‘face blurring’ function will, when activate, attempt to blur out the faces of people appearing in uploaded videos whilst leaving the rest of the footage untouched. The functionality will appeal to people appearing within videos who wish to remain anonymous.
However, the Google-owned site has stated, on its blog, that the new software will not work in all instances and that people who wish to be ‘blurred out’ should take other precautions if they wish to keep their identity hidden. Much will depend upon the camera angle, video quality and the presence of any obstructions.
Amanda Conway, a YouTube policy associate, is quoted by The Daily Telegraph as saying “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.”
According to Mashable, the way the new function works is that a registered YouTube user must first upload their video in the normal way. After this, they need to select the Video Enhancement tools menu. After selecting the blurring tool, the user can view the footage before the video is made available to all.
Wired notes that the technology is based on the software used by Google on its Street View videos to blur faces and to obscure car number plates.
It will be interesting to see how widely used the new functionality is and whether there will be a surge of new videos on the website of a type which might not have appeared before when the faces of people prominent.