Social media has so far played a vital role in war crimes. Videos have circulated all over social media, showing extremists causing chaos by killing people. Social media videos have also helped prosecutors in their cases. Still, the problem comes in when it is hard to tell if the video was staged, manipulated or if it truly comes from the place where it is claimed the action happened.
What has been more difficult about war crime videos being posted on social media is the presence of algorithm moderation. It has led to the loss of evidence that is relied on by the prosecutors. But because social media apps such as Youtube want to protect their viewers from viewing such content, measures have been put in place to delete the videos even before they get to the viewers.
This has led to the deletion of videos that were being used by Human Rights groups and prosecutors. These videos are the only hope for justice among the victims. Prosecutors only hope in warzone areas is the production of such videos even though they are far from being perfect in terms of electronic evidence reason being they can easily be tampered with.
Fighters who brag about their crimes can easily be located, which usually helps the prosecutors to gather their evidence. In 2008 a video of two women and children from Cameroon being shot was circulated on social media and it later appeared on BBC News.
The Cameroonian government denied the video stating that it was fake. But BBC investigators went ahead to do research on the video. They matched mountains in the background of the footage to the maps and satellite images. By matching every detail in the video, they were able to conclude that the killings happened in 2015.
They were able to match the weapons used to those that are normally used by a specific unit in the Cameroonian army. Through that, the soldiers that committed the crime were also identified, prosecuted and have now been jailed. Even as much as prosecutors are finding the use of this evidence, the videos are still being deleted.
For example, Human Rights Watch a group revisited their published videos on war crimes only to find out that 11% of these videos have vanished. The Syrian archive a non-profit group that records atrocities in Syria realized that 21% of YouTube videos it had catalogued up to June 2020 were no longer available.
Most of the content has been removed by Facebook, Twitter and other internet companies. There is little known about content that is removed, and no regulations have been put by the social media firms, and there is no certainty if it can be preserved if it is needed for evidence.