YouTube's Role In Iran's Protests

Steve Grove, the head of news and politics of YouTube
Steve Grove, the head of news and politics of YouTube, sat down with CBS News anchor Harry Smith to discuss YouTube's critical role in documentation of protests in Iran.

Q: This is such an important threshold moment for YouTube. We think of it as a place where we see funny things or frivolous things, sometimes you go and see political speeches, but why is it so important right now?

A: Well, I think the reason it's important is YouTube is the only place they're able to find this footage. The Iranian government is cracking down on mainstream media presence in Tehran and so really the only glimpse you're getting into these protests is from regular citizens who are uploading videos that they're taking from the middle of the action straight to YouTube and sharing them instantly with the whole world.

Q: This ends up being a very serious grown-up moment, though, for your organization, because now you literally are part of the worldwide media and part of news. You're a news portal.

A: Yeah. I mean, what's happening right now is essentially a citizen news bureau on the ground in Tehran that's using YouTube as their broadcasting platform. You're getting really the blood and guts of it, quite literally, sometimes, from the streets of Iran.

Q: I think it's important for people to understand that people who are taking these pictures are literally risking their lives to do what they're doing. And YouTube gives them a venue.

A: Yeah. I think that's an incredible fact that the fact that someone is listening and watching online almost instantaneously makes it relevant for people to take a risk and to upload this footage and share it immediately, because someone's listening and who knows, maybe somebody else can do something, raise pressure internationally. Of course, YouTube is a politically agnostic platform, but in this case it's being used for very political means and it's fascinating to see that unfold.

Q: One wonders if they would be taking that risk if their message wasn't being seen or heard.

A: It's hard to imagine someone taking the risk to upload that footage if people weren't listening on the other end.