Video-sharing platform YouTube recently added a new feature that allows video makers to blur the faces of people who appear in their footage. This feature comes at a time when many citizen journalists and cyber activists are posting video, but may want to preserve the anonymity of those they film.
IJNet tried out the feature, which YouTube notes is still "emerging technology." The feature is quick and easy to use, but the results can be mixed.
To blur the faces on your YouTube video, you simply click on the “Video Enhancements” tool, go to “Additional Features," then click “Blur All Faces” and "Apply."
You'll see a preview of your video with faces blurred before it goes live. After you save the changes to your video, a new copy is created. You can then opt to delete the original video.
I got fair results when trying it out on the video above. The video, which I shot in 2009, shows a street demonstration in Amman, Jordan against Israeli raids in the Gaza Strip. Some of the faces appear clearly for a moment, but are soon blurred. Faces further from the camera, which appear small in the frame, are not blurred.
I also tried it on a 25-second homemade video shot on my iPhone 4s. While the process itself was easy, processing the video took five minutes or so, which is a bit long for such a short video. The blurring option worked, but it covered a big portion of the frame and wasn’t just centralized on the face. The blur was so extensive that it was difficult to understand what the video was about.
As YouTube notes in a press release, the tool "sometimes has difficulty detecting faces depending on the angle, lighting, obstructions and video quality. It’s possible that certain faces or frames will not be blurred," they stated, adding that if you are not "satisfied with the accuracy of the blurring as you see it in the preview, you may wish to keep your video private."
Still, YouTube is likely to improve the feature over time, and it offers video makers with little equipment an important new tool as they document the news.
Have you tried YouTube's face-blurring feature? If so, what results did you get?