This Live Broadcast Is Brought To You By Bambuser: Streaming Video for Activists


In the technological game of cat and mouse, where activists and governments seek to control the flow of information through digital devices, activists have a new card to play: Bambuser.

Information is power. And controlling the flow of information is important to the strategies of those who have power, and those who seek to take it away from them. Different tech tools have been taking center stage at different times – each with it’s own features that make it the right tool for the right at the time. And right now, Bambuser is giving the upper hand to those want to stream video in real time. As described by CEO Hans Eriksson, Bambuser is what you get if “YouTube fell in love with Skype and had a love child.” Compatible with 260 mobile phone models, Bambuser allows users to broadcast live from their mobile device. As footage is taken, Bambuser streams it directly to social network platforms, blogs, and the Bambuser site among others.

Bambuser first started to pick up popularity during the 2010 elections in Egypt when no international observers were allowed to monitor the election process. On election day more than 10, 000 videos were streamed from Egypt; Eriksson saying “the purpose was to document any violence or attempts to prevent people from voting.” Having already proved useful once in Egypt, Bambuser took center stage again during the unrest in Egypt, the Middle East and North Africa. Mobile phones were no doubt important for organizing, communicating and the dissemination of information. Wise to the value of mobile phones, governments and police forces began to confiscate as many mobile phones as possible – the thought being that without a phone, it would be impossible to upload the footage that is stored on it. This is where Bambuser became a very useful application; it enabled users to stream in real time, to by-pass the step of uploading stored data. Skipping this one step has given activists and protestors a means to continue transmitting information in a timely and efficient manner.

While YouTube is still the most popular video sharing site, Bambuser is quickly gaining a faithful following of users and consumers. When asked about Bambuser’s popularity among political activists, CEO Hans Eriksson did not shy away from speculating on the role it has played, saying that he was sure that the agnostic nature of the platform played a major role. Eriksson has in fact been participating in ongoing dialogue with human rights activists and has provided the platform to journalists, bloggers and activists around the world. If there is an overarching lesson in the technology, it’s that mobile phones are becoming an indispensible tool for those in pursuit of social change.

Image courtesy of Tomsun.

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About Caitlin Turner

Caitlin Turner is a graduate student at the Institute of Conflict Analysis and Resolution, George Mason University. Through her thesis work, Caitlin hopes to bring attention to the ways in which social media can promote sustainable peace, encourage mobilization and foster social change. The first time Caitlin truly became interested in conflict issues was at the University of Calgary where she obtained her BA in Urban Studies and developed an affinity for flash mobs and Robert Putnam. In recent years, she has carved out a niche as a blogger and hopes to carry this momentum forward bringing a unique voice to complex issues.
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