BUSINESS Technology

If there's a protest going on, TapThere is there

Jackie Rau stands on the corner of Beverly Boulevard and Alvarado Street in Los Angeles, watching as police officers in riot gear prepare to arrest a protester outside of a Chevron gas station.

Rau zooms in as she films the commotion. The activist is cuffed and placed in the back of a white police van. The van doors close, and Rau shifts her focus to the large crowd gathered around her. The video ends, and she begins another live stream.

Warning: The following video contains some profanity.

“Broadcasting live from a protest in a downtown L.A. Chevron gas station,” Rau says in the video taken last week. “Some girl just got arrested.... There’s police officers everywhere. Everywhere. Just trying to show everybody what’s really going on at these things. Nothing’s masked. Nothing’s edited. All real life and live.”

Since the news broke that Ferguson, Mo., Police Officer Darren Wilson would not be indicted in the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, both mainstream media outlets and citizens have been streaming the wave of protests that erupted in response.

Rau used an app created in Newport Beach called TapThere. Similar to other video streaming programs such as Livestream and, TapThere users share their experiences online in real time.

Although other apps also streamed Ferguson protest feeds, TapThere gives amateur videographers and their fans some extra features, including a GPS map so viewers can find videos shot in specific areas.

Rau used the app to stream protests in L.A. because it created a sense of community. She wanted to share the adrenaline-filled experience, but said she felt limited by SnapChat and Instagram.

“On TapThere, I was able to keep it live for as long as the situation called for, not knowing when those 10-15 seconds of importance would occur,” said Rau, 23. “It was raw, but it was very much the truth, and that's what the world should see.”

The app, launched December 2013, has “between five to six figures in users” at any given time, according to TapThere founder Curtis Hutten.

The goal, Hutten said, is to turn live streaming into more of a social network.

“People can use 140 characters and tell a little about what’s going on in Ferguson, or they can send a short video clip,” Hutten said. “But with TapThere, you can zoom into protests; you can walk with people using the app.”

Jordan Bray drove down to Los Angeles from Santa Barbara last Wednesday after watching protesters storm the 110 Freeway on TV news. Unsatisfied with only helicopter and sideline views, he decided to stream the protests in front of the federal courthouse downtown.

Bray said he wanted to show a “real,” boots-on-the-ground  view of the protests instead of the “regulated” version seen on television broadcasts.

“It’s completely personal,” Bray, 20, said. “These protesters used it because they had a reason for it. They used it to show the world the real news; to show everyone their experience. It hits at home.”

Twitter: @parviniparlance

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