Mechanics (2) & Additional Resources



Part 2: Setup and Practice - 60min

Depending on the time available, you can do these activities together or break into smaller groups and participants join whichever groups suit their needs the most.

Recording Tips and Tricks

How to use photo, video, and/or audio recording to document violence

  • Find the built-in tools on your phone for recording: photos, video, audio
  • Practice using these tools, consider the tips on WITNESS's Filming with a mobile phone tip sheet (linked in resources below)
  • Plan your shots, be selective
    • Capture Detail and Perspective: physically move closer to record more details and move back to show a wider perspective of events
    • Keep your shots steady: choose your shot and hold steady for at least 10 seconds, avoid zooming, use both hands and keep your elbows against your body for extra stability
    • Hold your phone horizontally to capture a wider angle
    • Get in close for good sound: be aware of loud noises that could drown out interviews
    • Be aware of lighting: record in a well-lit location and keep the sun and bright lights to your back
  • If you have a lot of time, work in teams to plan documenting using these tools. Practice creating a piece of media.
  • If you will be sharing on YouTube, consider using the subtitle feature:
  • Context and messaging. Plan your messaging. Where will you post this and what text will you post to accompany it? How will you link this to your larger objectives?

Recording Phone Calls

Input: This has proven useful for sex workers who were being threatened by authorities.

Using an app. You can install and use an app that allows you to record. This will require data for downloading, data for conducting the call as the app will use data and not the phone line and will take some planning ahead.

  • Assess which app you would like to use and install it
    • Google Voice allows you to record incoming calls, not outgoing calls
    • Your mobile phone may have a built-in recording app
  • Test with a partner
  • Practice locating the media and saving it off your phone to a safe location where you can access it when you need it.

Using a recorder. If you are unable to or choose not to use an app for any reason, you could work with another person, using your phone on speakerphone and using a recording device or their phone to record from the call using their phone as a voice recorder. Some phones have a built in voice recording feature.

  • Assess which tool or app you would like to use and install it
  • Test with a partner. For best sound, get close and record in a location away from other loud sounds.
  • Practice locating the media and saving it off your phone to a safe location where you can access it when you need it.


You can take screenshots of your phone to document textual harassment and violence.

  • Choose an app to screenshot and practice:
    • On Android: a phone using Android version Ice Cream Sandwich, you can press the Volume Down and Power button at the same time, hold for a second, and your phone will take a screenshot that is saved to your gallery.
    • iPhone X, XS, XR: Press and hold the Side button on the right and click the Volume Up button at the same time and your phone will take a screenshot that is saved into your Albums in an album called Screenshots.
    • iPhone 8 and earlier: Press and hold the Power Button on the right side and click the Home Button at the same time. This will be saved into your Photos. Look for an album called Screenshots.
  • Practice locating the media and saving it off your phone to a safe location where you can access it when you need it.

Notice, you will not be able to screenshot all apps. Some apps, like Signal, have a security setting that allows a user to prevent others from screenshotting specific conversations.

Documenting the events for internal records

As an incident is occurring, whether it is brief, long, one time or repeated, it is important to document information about the event. Whereas many of the other tactics are around documentation for public and social sharing, this may be mostly useful as an internal practice. Where is the event occurring, when, who is involved, what is happening. Keeping track of this information can be useful in reconstructing events, assessing and planning responses.

Live Streaming

Adapted from the WITNESS resource: Livestreaming Protests, written for activists in the USA

You are livestreaming at an event like a protest, rally, etc. Definitely use the Planning activities and Prepare activities. This may be a great way to show events that are unfolding and to engage people who are watching in supporting. There are also some elevated risks as there may be police presence and there may be police watching now or later to target activists.

  • Location: Document your location intentionally. Film street signs, buildings, and landmarks to document your location. Also, consider how revealing your location in real-time relates to your own safety and the safety of those you are filming.
  • Identification of participants: Will you be able to get the consent of those you are filming? How do you want and need to protect their identities? Consider not filming faces.
  • Identification of tactics: This works both ways. You might unintentionally film the tactics of the activists in a way that negatively impacts them. At the same time, you may be able to document the tactics of police to better assess their formations and likely actions in the future.
  • Who to stream to: What are your goals of livestreaming? Do you want to stream to a small trusted group first who can support you by recasting your media?
  • Work with a team: Work together with others who can support you by engaging viewers in comments and discussion, can repost the media to multiple channels.
  • Have an ask: Engage your viewers to act.
  • Your device: Do you want to user your personal device? Whichever device you use, encrypt and password protect your device. Do not use your fingerprint.

Shareback - 10 min

  • Ground the shareback in a conversation about why we document violence. Acknowledge that this work is stressful.
  • Share any media that breakout groups created.
  • Share any learnings, new tools and tips shared by participants.

Additional Resources

Go back to this activity's main module (Mobile Safety)