As we watch the ongoing protests in Ukraine and Venezuela, it dawned on me that now more than ever, these demonstrations bring about issues of censorship. Government blockages of media and services that enable people to communicate and mobilize have become a fact of life in the social media era. Yet, even as particular sites are being slowed or blocked, there are apps that can be used to sidestep these attempts to silence dissent.
Here is a selection of the best apps that are being used to empower and organize protesters around the world:
1. Zello is a free push-to-talk application that allows users to talk over channels that sort of work like a walkie talkie. There is a trending channels feature that allows you to tap into a larger conversation, essentially turning the app into an interactive radio station. Zello proclaims themselves to be “the place for free live private and public conversations." Perfect for sidestepping a phone company (big brother).
From the comments on the iTunes store, user Apoklipsys1 said: This app is the tool to communicate thousands of students and people in the Venezuelan Riots. #prayforvenezuela #12f #lasalida
2. Find My Friends can help you reconnect with your friends after you get split up during a protest. It’s as easy as sending a request to track, and then following a map.
3. I’m Getting Arrested is exactly what it sounds like. In the event that you actually do get arrested during a demonstration, users can send an alert to your friends, family, and even attorney with one click. That way you can use that phone call on something more strategic than a ‘bail me out’ call.
Google Play user Omar Shalem says: “nice app. Now it’s useful in Egypt.”
4. Obscura Cam allows you to make those bystanders that might be standing in your photo or video anonymous, thereby protecting their identity. It also removes your geolocation, phone make and model, and other metadata from the file. That way you can be certain that you aren't putting anyone in danger when you share this kind of media.
5. Hotspot Shield is a free program that allows users to secure their connection while surfing WiFi hotspots. By doing this, it enables a surfer to access sites that might be blocked, like Twitter in Venezuela.
On Monday, the company announced that they were making the VPN service free in the country, “because nobody should be able to censor everything they don't agree with! #Freedom”
6. Orweb is a new privacy browser for Android. It easily allows users to browse the web anonymously, and it breaks down firewalls that usually block websites (even at work).
Daniel Rivero is a producer/reporter for Fusion who focuses on police and justice issues. He also skateboards, does a bunch of arts related things on his off time, and likes Cuban coffee.