This weekend, Alexander Lukashenko won a fourth term as president of Belarus. Official statements that he received nearly 80% of the vote have been met by the West decrying flaws and violent clashes involving thousands of protesters that have turned out into the streets. Eight of the 10 opposition candidates are reported to have been arrested, along with hundreds of protesters. As the government of Belarus cracks down, the Web is waking up to the news. Here are online windows into what’s happening.
Blockade and crowd photos via Charter 97
The Neda video in Iran was one of the most politically powerful online videos in history. Look for YouTube to play a role in Belarus as well. While the government of Belarus is reported to have blocked all major social media and opposition media outlets like Charter 97, Belarus Partizan, and Solidarity, videos like the one below are likely to keep going online:
The Belarus election is the most recent instance of where online new platforms allow new insight into a country’s turmoil. While mainstream media outlets are now covering the story, Twitter provides a real-time stream of news, aggregated with the #electby hashtag on Twitter and, notably, curated by the U.S. State Department’s eDiplomacy account, @eDipAtState. Along with retweeting many other accounts with relevant reports and information, @eDipState also shared an official statement: “US Embassy Minsk condemns election-day violence, excessive force by authorities.”
In 2010, of course, the online audience doesn’t have to rely on government accounts or blog posts to track what’s happened. Using Twitter’s advanced search, anyone can see geolocated #electby tweets with 500 miles of Belarus. Just click “translate” on the right sidebar to read them in English.
An instance of Ushahidi, the powerful crowdmapping tool that was originally developing to track elections in Kenya, has been deployed at ElectBy.com.
In 2010, getting the full spectrum of information about international news means going beyond standard online mainstream media outlets or cable news. The Global Voices blogging network is an important collection of views, reports and media from around the world, including a comprehensive review of Belarus presidential Election Day protests and crackdowns.
As Vadim Lavrusik pointed out in his predictions for media in 2011, a new role of journalists in events like the Belarus election is to act as a real-time curator of information, sifting, filtering, vetting and verifying information for a distributed audience. NPR senior social strategist Andy Carvin has been one of the best in the world at this task, as evidenced by his work during the Haitian earthquake. Below, he used Storify to curate images, links, videos and tweets from the Web.