Google, Twitter help give voice to Egyptians
Posted | February 01, 2011 02:18 PM
Google has launched the latest salvo in an effort to overcome internet blackouts in Egypt during anti-government protests there.
"Like many people we've been glued to the news unfolding in Egypt and thinking of what we could do to help people on the ground," Google said on its official blog.
The result was a collaboration between Google, Twitter and SayNow (a service Google acquired last week) to let people without access to the Web share messages on Twitter via voice mail.
The service, which is live now, offers three international phone numbers to call -- +16504194196 or +390662207294 or +97316199855.
For each call, the service will instantly post a message to Twitter with a link to listen to the message.
"We hope that this will go some way to helping people in Egypt stay connected at this very difficult time," the post said. "Our thoughts are with everyone there."
The blog post, by SayNow co-founder Ujjwal Singh and AbdelKarim Mardini, Google's product manager for North Africa and the Middle East, said people without internet access can listen to the messages by calling the same number or or going to twitter.com/speak2tweet. Twitter users can follow that account to see the messages in real time.
The messages also will be posted with the hashtag #egypt -- another way for Twitter users to follow them.
One difficulty Egyptians may face, however, is that mobile-phone networks also have been shut down during the protests. Land lines, of course, could presumably still be used in areas where that is the case.
Last week, as demonstrators angry with the policies of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak took to the streets, the government shut down social-media websites, then blacked out all internet access in much of the country.
On Tuesday, as protesters began what's being called a "march of millions," which many observers say could be a decisive day in the effort to oust Mubarak, there were fresh reports of the internet being shut off in much of Egypt.