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23 February 2011

Libya: an uprising caught on cameraphone

Social media have partly plugged the gap left by the absence of the mainstream media.

By Duncan Robinson

Until today, there have been very few mainstream foreign journalists in Libya. Glimpses into the Libyan uprising have come instead via social media.

YouTube clips with grimy, rough footage shot on mobile phones make up the bulk of pictures coming from the North African state. They are a window into Libya, but they don’t provide much in the way of context. They are, however, threads that can be tied together into a general narrative. Below are some of the most enlightening clips.

In the clip below, a teacher cries “Muammar can go to hell!” and then repeats claims that a Libyan general who defected after refusing orders to kill civilians was himself killed.

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The sub-Saharan mercenaries that he claims are carrying out Gaddafi’s orders to shoot civilians can be seen in this video, here.

In the video below, the alleged mercenaries are in action, beating protesters.

A passport belonging to one of the mercenaries is below. Reports of mercenaries arriving from sub-Saharan Africa are one of the few consistent allegations to emerge from Libya in recent days.

The short clip below shows a Libyan man being gunned down by a sniper. It is as graphic as it sounds. If you are at all squeamish, then don’t click play. It’s the dark side of social news. With no editor between the consumer and direct primary sources, it’s up to the consumer to decide what is news and necessary – and what is simply voyeurism.

The Daily Beast has assembled a horrifying selection of images and videos garnered from Twitter and other social media sources. The link is here, but again, be warned that it contains extremely upsetting images.

Away from the guts and gore, there is a happier story to be told. In the clip below, protesters tear down a sign advertising Gaddafi’s Green Book in Misrata, about 175 kilometres east of the capital, Tripoli.