The images are grainy, often jerky and hard to follow (like most footage shot using hand-held cameras and cellphones), but the message is unmistakable: in the months since the disputed Iranian presidential election in June, the people of Iran have become fluent in the new language of citizen video reporting. What might have seemed an isolated moment immediately following the election, when we watched videos of Iranians marching, battling and even dying on the streets of Tehran, appears to have become an essential part of their struggle.
At YouTube, we have been watching week after week as new videos have appeared on the site within hours of every single protest or similar event reported from Iran in the past six months. Thousands of uploads have brought the fear and tension of these protests to YouTube, inviting millions of views around the world. It is as if the revolts that are taking place could not do so outside the eye of the camera.
Unlike traditional news footage from foreign correspondents (currently prohibited in Iran), these videos are the voice of the people — unfiltered, unedited and with a single, sometimes disturbing point of view. No professional film could capture the one-to-one feeling of watching an ordinary citizen's images of unrest in his or her own country.
We are constantly amazed by the videos our community uploads, whether from their own backyards or the streets of a faraway land. Armed with only a camera and a means to reach the Internet, anyone can ask another to bear witness to their lives. Given the nature of the YouTube videos from Iran, we may want to turn away from some of the images we see, but we keep watching, knowing that we are seeing through the eyes of a people who have discovered the power of information — despite the often extreme measures their government is using to try to stop them.
We will continue to provide the platform for you to see what they see, hear their voices and learn about their struggles. And we encourage you to join the global conversation. Leave a comment, upload your own response video or share a moving moment with someone else.