WIRED: The Race to Archive Social Posts That May Prove Russian War Crimes


Painstaking new techniques for archiving social media posts could provide crucial evidence in future prosecutions.

IN EARLY APRIL, as Ukraine started to regain control of Bucha and other small towns northwest of Kyiv, appalling imagery began to spread on Telegram and other social networks. Photos and videos showed bodies in the streets and anguished survivors describing loved ones, civilians, killed by Russian soldiers. In Chernivtsi, in western Ukraine, attorney Denys Rabomizo carefully built an archive of the gruesome evidence. His aim: to preserve social media posts that could help prove Russian war crimes.

“Psychologically it’s very difficult to look at,” says Rabomizo, who coordinates a team of more than 50 volunteers who gather online material and also contact witnesses to alleged atrocities to gather testimony. “So I think about trying to archive all this in a proper way to be used in the future.”

Such evidence could, in the months and years ahead, be submitted to the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands, which said in February it would begin investigating alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine. Cases over actions in Ukraine might also be brought at the European Court of Human Rights or in countries like Germany that prosecute certain crimes beyond their borders.

“Capturing social media from Ukraine is an incredible source of evidence,” says Alex Whiting, deputy prosecutor at the Kosovo Specialist Prosecutor’s Office in the Hague, and a visiting professor at Harvard University. A deluge of TikTok and Telegram posts could vastly increase the amount of evidence of alleged Russian war crimes—but they will only aid prosecutions if judges accept such material in court.

Read more via WIRED

The Race to Save Posts That May Prove Russian War Crimes

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