The Internet has changed the way people get their news, the way news it is presented, and where it comes from. It’s also led to the creation of some sites that allow for the dissemination of news not covered by traditional outlets. One of those is Dronstagram, a service set up by amateur blogger James Bridle who discovered two years ago that far more drone strikes were occurring than were being reported which meant that military targets were being hit by US and British drones, inflicting damage and killing people, both civilian and combatants. Believing, Mother Nature Network, reports, that such military action without the public being made aware of what was going on was wrong, he decided to take action. The results, the Verge says, is a daily update detailing with words and photographs, drone strikes that occur in any location on the planet, but most specifically, Afghanistan.
Drone strikes are where missiles are launched from an aircraft that is controlled by a remote pilot. Remote pilots are generally based in the home country of the drone; they control their drones via satellite based communications networks and are directed to targets by other reconnaissance efforts, which almost always consist of pilots in real planes or helicopters flying in the war zone. Mother Nature Network says that very few drone strikes are reported, noting that last year alone, over three hundred and fifty drone strikes were made in Afghanistan by just the US military. Less than one percent of such strikes were reported by the main media outlets. The Dronstagram project relies on field reporters, Google Maps, anecdotal evidence and first hand reporting to identify drone strikes. In so doing, pictures of the strike zone are posted on Instagram, along with text describing what other news sources have reported, such as damage estimates and number of people killed, and as often as possible, who the victims were.
The Verge says that the proportion of civilians killed to enemy combatants reported by the US and British governments is very small; other news sources such as those in the Middle East say the opposite is true. Bridle can’t say for sure which side is correct, but he can add a lend a lot more information to the issue to average citizens, which in the end, he says on his blog, such help those who want to know, become better informed and in so doing, make up their own minds. And then, what they do with that information, he adds, is up to them.