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Now you can blur faces on your risky YouTube videos

If you want to post footage of a protest, but don't want to reveal the protesters faces, YouTube now offers the ability to blur faces.


Sometimes, privacy is utterly necessary. It's even a good thing.

This is something even Google is recognizing. Today, for example, it launches a fine new feature to help you feel more comfortable posting videos to YouTube.

For the company is now offering the ability to blur faces on YouTube videos with just one click.

Launching the service in an official -- and very clear -- blog post, YouTube policy associate, Amanda Conway explains that the site has become a significant source for news. Blurring, she says, is useful (though it didn't seem to befor the longest time on Google Street View.)

She writes:

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.

This first step is, unlike so many privacy controls in the world, blessedly simple. You go to the YouTube Video Enhancements page, wander over to Additional Features and there you will see something that says "Blur All Faces."

Click on "Apply" and you're done.

Some might notice an imperfection or two here. If, for example, you're posting protest video, you might want to hide the faces of the activists, but reveal the faces of, say, brutal policemen. That doesn't seem yet possible.

Which is a pity, given the footage of a protest on behalf of the anti-Putin band Pussy Riot I have embedded. Yes, it might be healthy to hide the faces of the protesters, but there is something revealing about revealing the faces of the friendly neighborhood agents of state.

As Conway herself points out, the technology is very new and therefore not perfect. It may not, in fact, be able to blur all the faces, as certain camera angles or video quality might affect its ability.

It is up to you to check the preview and see if you're happy with the obfuscation before posting it to the world.

I wonder if this excellent new technology will increase the number of fascinating, amusing and even newsworthy videos posted to the site.

Will people feel more confident that they can expose certain events, now that they don't have to reveal the identities of those involved?

Or will there also be a temptation on the part of some to pump out videos that are entirely fake, their fakeness made easier to conceal by the fact that faces are blurred?