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Media Technologist – Technology, Threats and Opportunities Program

ABOUT WITNESS 

We are a global human rights organization, a collective of passionate human rights activists with (mostly remote) team members all over the world. WITNESS’ mission is to help people use video and technology to protect and defend human rights. We are a 35-person multi-disciplinary team with staff based across 5 continents. While we’re legally a non-profit that is registered as a 501(c)3 in the U.S, we are a global collective: our  staff members (as well as consultants, interns, fellows and a vast community of partners and collaborators) are based around the world and reflect a group of activists with diverse skills and backgrounds. 

WHAT WE DO:

WITNESS pairs grassroots community support with advocacy at a systems level.   Our team works holistically on a global scale to understand how communities are using and want to use video and technology for human rights.  With a cellphone camera, anyone can become a human rights defender and expose injustice, making it harder for perpetrators to hide or for systems of oppression to remain invisible.  But using video for community organizing, justice and accountability can be dangerous – videos can put defenders (or those they film) at risk, can be used against communities in court or deceitfully discredited by tired old power narratives.  Filming is almost never enough – for videos to make a difference they need to work alongside strong advocacy or legal strategies; they also need to be created, preserved and shared in ways that avoid creating more harm or trauma. 
New threats to human rights are emerging at the intersection of artificial intelligence, misinformation and disinformation and a global wave of rising authoritarianism.

 When it comes to systemic challenges we are on the watch for both existing problems – like how large amounts of critical human rights footage are lost because of the arbitrary decisions of platforms – but also emerging threats and opportunities, such as those posed by ‘deepfakes’, new ways to manipulate media to make it look like someone said or did something they never did.

 

ABOUT THE TEAM:


We are building up the “Technology Threats and Opportunities” (TTO) Program to reflect WITNESS’s vision of a globally-distributed, diverse and empowered team focused on advancing human rights through video and technology, and of a specific Program driven to identify and proactively address existing and emerging technologies’ impact in enabling WITNESS’s vision. 

 

You will collaborate with a team including our Program Director,Senior Program Manager, Program Coordinator, Program Associate and other TTO collaborators and consultants who focus on specific project areas (for example, emerging forms of misinformation and disinformation, or supporting better preservation of critical videos on platforms). You will work alongside Regional Managers and regional social media consultants who are engaged with online and offline communities who use video and technology for good, and face the challenges.

 

THE ROLE: 

You will be a critical team member within the program that plays a critical role in WITNESS ensuring we respond to existing and emerging opportunities for systemic work to protect and enhance the use of video and technology for human rights. At the same time, you will be a key ally to others on the team engaged in day-to-day support to grassroots defenders, helping ensure they make informed decisions about video and related technologies of the mobile web, social media, media management and beyond. You will also play a crucial peer role to our growing Archives team, as they engage with the needs globally for community-lead human rights archives.

WITNESS seeks a capable, empathetic and insightful technologist, deeply grounded in the current realities of social media, video and technology as they impact vulnerable and marginalized communities and human rights defenders globally, and with a strong interest in proactive work to avert emerging threats and advance emerging opportunities. You have a deep understanding of relevant technologies that could include a mix of expertise in video, media forensics and techniques for understanding media manipulation, the decentralized web, media archiving technologies, digital security, OSINT, offline secure documentation and the mobile internet and how technology standards and infrastructure are developed. An immediate area of work will be to play a critical role in our work on deepfakes (detection/mitigation) and authenticity infrastructure. 

 

As important as your technical expertise is your capability to listen and engage with the communities we work with to understand what they prioritize as threats and opportunities and support their agency and action.

 

In a fast-moving environment of technological change, where threats emerge and evolve, and opportunities need to be acted upon, you will be a key team member ensuring WITNESS’s TTO and broader programmatic work is deeply informed by expertise on the practical application of video and technology for human rights, and how emerging audiovisual and social media technologies related to existing harms and challenges.

 

The Media Technologist will work closely with the broader TTO team and consultants and the cross-regional thematic WITNESS Archives Team as well as collaborate with regional teams in the regions where WITNESS operates (North America, Latin America, Brazil, Sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East and North Africa, and Asia-Pacific), as well as additional cross-regional thematic teams like Video as Evidence in three core areas:

 

  • Effective, globally-grounded advocacy projects around current, large-scale problems experienced by communities/activists using video and technology for human rights: for example, ensuring preservation of critical video that is otherwise removed and lost from social media platforms
  • Research and globally-grounded advocacy around emerging threats and opportunities related to audiovisual media and related technology for witnessing: for example, ensuring human rights are central to emerging approaches to better validating the origins and manipulation of video such as the authenticity infrastructure being developed by groups like the C2PA, and how access to these tools as well as technologies to detect new forms of media manipulation like deepfakes is available globally and equitably
  • Work to ensure WITNESS’s guidance on archiving for human rights is informed by technological developments: for example, advances in the decentralized web

 

You will work on select projects including: research, listening and development; collaboration with other team members and consultants on organizing convenings and workshops to ensure WITNESS’s work is guided by the lived and practical experience of communities we work with; and develop and implement communications and advocacy around our work. You will collaborate with team-members across WITNESS as well as global stakeholders to ensure our Technology Threats and Opportunities work is well-grounded in a diverse set of experiences of human rights and civic journalism globally. 

 

NOTE: WITNESS does not build technology products itself. However, it collaborates with others building technologies, and advocates around technology design and implementation in the commercial and non-profit sectors.

WITNESS is strongly committed to challenging existing power structures in the technology world. Candidates from outside the US and Europe and those with practitioner and activist experience working closely with marginalized and vulnerable populations, or from communities facing technology-enabled rights abuses, are particularly encouraged to apply. 

 

Primary Responsibilities

 

Research, Foresight, Convening and Analysis

Engage with a diverse set of global experts with lived, practical and technical expertise, and with Regional and Thematic teams as well as the TTO team to research and analyze current widespread problem areas, as well as emerging threats and opportunities, 

  • Stay current on relevant technical and commercial advances in emerging technology fields as identified by work-planning processes at WITNESS, with a particular focus initially on media manipulation, media forensics, and media archiving
  • On relevant areas, collaborate with TTO team and other WITNESS teams to convene key stakeholders in our communities of activism and civic journalism as well as related technology fields to understand how to prioritize key threats and solutions around current, at-scale problems as well as emerging areas of opportunity and challenge.
  • Project manage development of relevant materials including outreach, logistics, invitations, preparation, follow-up

 

Advocacy and Peer Networking

  • Conduct (in collaboration with other team members) advocacy and organizing towards key technology platforms in one-on-one, small group, large group and public settings: for example, as a key participant in our multi-stakeholder work on content authenticity and provenance (e.g. C2PA.org)
  • Support key relationships with others in civil society, industry and government working at intersection of digital rights, technology human rights, and platform accountability

 

Work with Archives Team

  • Act as a key peer to the WITNESS Archives Team
  • Build an understanding of the technological practices, needs, and constraints of autonomous community-controlled archives, and collaborate on identifying opportunities where emerging technologies, such as decentralized web, may be viable and useful to them.

 

Advise internally on key technologies and related practices

  • Act as a key internal resource-person alongside members of our IT team on key technology developments and practical day-to-day needs identified by our global team
  • Where relevant, collaborate and participate in the WITNESS Digital Security team

 

Partner externally to support key technologies

  • Manage WITNESS’s relationships with external allies and partners where we are providing input or partnership on the development of products or technologies

 

Communicate around key TTO priorities

  • Engage in select online and offline spaces in targeted work around priorities and content outlined above – to include both written/video presentations as well as in-person talks or presentations
  • Contribute to direct social media and media outreach around priorities

 

Management – Projects and Consultants

Where necessary, provide project management on relevant projects

  • Manage 1-2 consultants working on key TTO projects

 

Fundraising and Admin

  • Do select funder engagement in-person, via email and virtually
  • Do relevant internal financial and funder reporting
  • With support from Program Associate, update to relevant tracking spreadsheets and metrics 

 

THE IDEAL CANDIDATE: 

Experience: You should have 5+  years of related experience, including a track record of hard work. You have strong communication and project management skills. You’ll need a deep intuitive and practical understanding of video and technology combined with experience of media technology implementation and its potential harms and benefits for vulnerable communities, human rights defenders and civic journalists at a local, national or international level. A strong background in one or more of the priority areas outlined above including media forensics, deepfakes (detection/mitigation), archiving and the decentralized web, and authenticity infrastructure is a big plus. You are a hands-on user of social media and video tools, not just an observer. You don’t view the problems and opportunities of video and technology as abstract or academic, but real-world and biased in their realities and impacts.

 

Human Rights: Background in (or passion for) human rights; understands networks, grassroots organizing and how activists mobilize online. Strong knowledge and advocacy experience with current and emerging technologies for human rights. Committed to social justice and WITNESS’ values/mission and to a global, human rights perspective. 

 

Management: Experience managing projects, products and people, used to work in a distributed global team, and securing the best with your collaborators. A plus if you have relevant product management experience in the technology sector.

 

Communications: Strong communicator and advocate, in written and spoken contexts; with a strong capability for simplifying and presenting issues, including in video formats online

 

Languages: Fluent spoken and written English required to work with global team who uses this as shared language. Additional languages a plus. Native speaker of English not required.

 

Other Important Skills: 

  • Expertise across a number of these areas (we don’t expect all!): video, media forensics and techniques for understanding media manipulation including deepfakes, metadata and authenticity infrastructure, the decentralized web, media archiving technologies, digital security, OSINT, offline secure documentation and the mobile internet. 
  • Personal or professional experience using social media, video-sharing or meme platforms
  • Proficiency w/Google worksuite as Gdocs, sheets, forms are heavily used across WITNESS. 
  • Digital communication skills, including creating visual messages and writing/editing for the web.  
  • Basic web publishing skills; knows basic HTML and CSS 

 

Characteristics: Strong interpersonal skills and aptitude for cross-cultural communication. Team-minded. A doer. Is organized and follows through. Espouses good humor under pressure; inspires others. Also, flexible – early morning or later evening calls will be needed as this job requires working with people in different time zones (this is offset in your weekly workload as work-life balance is a core value for WITNESS).

 

Education: You can tell us about your degrees, but we’re more interested in what your passions are, your broader experience and background and what you can do. If your degrees are part of that story, great!  (But no formal education required).

 

Location: Strong preference for candidates located in Africa, Middle East, and Latin America but the position is open globally and is flexible provided some overlap of working hours with the rest of the team can be ensured. WITNESS is registered as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization in the state of New York, USA, and currently retains an office in New York City. However, since 2020, its staff is currently working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Compensation: WITNESS offers a range of benefits, depending on the location of the individual, and 15 days of paid annual leave in addition to public holidays and end of year leave.

WITNESS also offers additional monthly “reading days” where employees may request one day in the month to do reading/further study related to WITNESS work.

WITNESS also offers competitive and robust medical benefits that cover an individual at 100%.

WITNESS recognizes that flexible working arrangements are key to equity and inclusion in the workplace, so we are happy to talk about the type of flexible arrangements that might work best for you.

 

Reports to: Senior Program Manager – TTO

Start Date: As soon as possible 

Principle Relationships: Senior Program Manager – TTO, Program Director, Program Associate and Program Coordinator – TTO, Archives Program Team 

Title: Media Technologist

 

HOW TO APPLY:

To apply, send your cover letter, resume, and contact information for 3 references to ttojobs@witness.org with the subject line “Job” [Your name]”.

Please include a cover letter. We are interested in hearing about what you’ve done, what you can do, and what you want to do at WITNESS.

 

APPLICATION DEADLINE:  Applications accepted on a rolling basis until the position is filled; early applications encouraged. Please note that due to the volume anticipated, we will not be able to respond individually to each applicant.  We kindly ask that you do not send duplicate applications via mail or email, and no phone calls. 

 

WITNESS is an equal opportunity employer. People of all ages, races, ethnicities, national origins, religions, genders, gender identities and expressions, sexual orientations, and individuals protected by any other statuses under federal, state or local laws, including but not limited to, disability, marital, domestic partnership, familial, caregiver, transgender, military or veteran statuses, are encouraged to apply. Authorization to work in the U.S. is not required.

 

Thank you.

 

http://www.witness.org

 



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