Live-witnessing, Slacktivism and Surveillance

Understanding the opportunities, challenges and risks of human rights activism in a digital era

Authored by: Summer Harlow

The Routledge Companion to Media and Human Rights

Print publication date:  June  2017
Online publication date:  July  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138665545
eBook ISBN: 9781315619835
Adobe ISBN:


 Download Chapter



On 31 March, 1991, George Holliday grabbed his Sony HandyCam analog video recorder and began filming the Los Angeles police beating of Rodney King. The video aired on local news that night, and within a week was broadcast by news outlets across the country. Now, more than 25 years later, anyone can be George Holliday. Armed with smartphones and the ability to instantaneously distribute footage around the world via online social media, people who were not even born when Holliday shot his now infamous video can use the latest digital technologies to carry on the Holliday legacy of citizen witnessing and reporting. While Holliday’s video was not enough to convince jurors to convict the police officers accused of beating King, today’s viral videos, although not always enough to provide the necessary evidence for conviction in human rights abuse cases, have gone a long way in changing the conversation, raising awareness and mobilizing supporters in the field of human rights.

Search for more...
Back to top

Use of cookies on this website

We are using cookies to provide statistics that help us give you the best experience of our site. You can find out more in our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.