How much proof is in the pixels?
Images and videos posted on social media may look like evidence of war crimes and atrocity in Ukraine. But to what extent are they credible objects of memory? And what role do social media platforms play in the preservation of this digital archive?
On April 1, footage emerged on social media of possible war crimes in the small Ukrainian town of Bucha: civilians apparently killed as Russian forces retreated. A day later, AFP reporters arrived at the scene, and saw about 20 bodies in civilian clothing on Yablonska Street — killed, apparently, while going about their daily business. The hands of one victim had been tied.
In all, Ukrainian authorities claim hundreds of people were killed in the “Bucha massacre”. Yet, as news of the killings spread, Facebook and Instagram parent company Meta briefly blocked the hashtags #bucha and #buchamassacre — the result of a content algorithm detecting references to violent imagery...