In this episode we discover and explore how a new kind of citizen journalism is changing the world with Eliot Higgins of Bellingcat, the foremost pioneer worldwide in online investigations and open source analysis, whose work uses publicly available online resources and content freely - and often bizarrely - shared in social media to expose alleged Russian state killers, identify the exact anti-aircraft unit involved in the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 and prosecute murderers of innocent children and their mothers in Cameroon.
From this very practical, deeply determined work from his home - and alongside a growing team and crowdsourcing community - Higgins has built up a unique global expertise.
Through our discussion, you’ll hear Eliot’s stories and practical examples that range across some of the biggest events and news stories in the world. You’ll learn about the workflow and tools of open source investigation and intelligence brought to these global events, the motivating forces of accountability and justice, and we get properly into the timely topic of conspiracy theories, including QAnon, manufactured consent, misinformation and propaganda - a topic that first bubbled up in conversation with Eric in Episode 2, ‘Deep Fake, bots & Synthetic Art with Eric Drass’.
I’m pretty sure this episode with the founder of Bellingcat will get you thinking more about the power of online communities in our lives - both for good and for bad, as well as casting a comically amateurish light on how evil perpetrators handle themselves in digital spaces.
Eliot Higgins on Twitter
Eliot Higgins - Wikipedia
‘We Are Bellingcat’ book - available for pre-order
Lee Rosevere for music
Will McInnes 00:04
Now today we have a very special guest, who's going to expand your mind about the world of online investigations until this moment, You might not believe that you could credibly prove the identity of highly trained undercover Russian killers. The origin and type of chemical weapons used in an attack in Syria, or the exact location where an American journalist was assassinated, just from online research, but you can, or more accurately, Eliot Higgins and the team and crowdsourcing community he's built up bellingcat can do prove all of this. They don't just prove it. Their work reaches international courts, law enforcement agencies and worldwide media, bringing justice to victims and accountability to the world's most feared perpetrators. So let's dive right in and learn more about what's here right now. So Elliot, thank you so much for being here with us today. I've been following You and your work for years now is just trying to dig around the internet and do my own online investigation and try and find out how long I've been following you for but I couldn't, couldn't quite get to the bottom of it. But you've come a long way. And the practices and tools and quality of your work has has had a really meaningful impact. And I just have so much respect for what you've achieved. How did you get going, like where did this all begin?
Eliot Higgins 02:26
It really started probably back in 2011, with the conflict in Libya, where I was just spending a lot of time online kind of arguing with people on the internet about things and I was interested in the Arab Spring what was happening there just because my own kind of interests in you know, I kind of grew up between the first Gulf War and the second Gulf War in 2003. And the kind of build up of that and kind of misinformation around that and the discussions around it kind of fueled my interest in kind of Middle East and US foreign policy. In a kind of Europe's in the UK, his involvement in that. So obviously Libya and what was happening there was of great interest. But with the internet, you had this kind of new element where now you have lots of videos and photographs being sha