Google and Twitter enable Egyptians to tweet by phone
Google and Twitter have launched a service to allow people in Egypt to send Twitter messages by leaving a voicemail on a specific number after the last internet service provider in the country saw its access cut off late on Monday.
The new service, which has been created by co-ordination between the two internet companies, uses Google’s speech-to-text recognition service to automatically translate a message left on the number, which will be sent out on Twitter with the “#egypt” hashtag.
Ujwal Singh, co-founder of SayNow and Abdel Karim Mardini, Google’s product manager for the Middle East and north Africa, said in a blog post that “over the weekend we came up with the idea of a speak-to-tweet service – the ability for anyone to tweet using just a voice connection … We hope that this will go some way to helping people in Egypt stay connected at this very difficult time…”
No internet connection is required. That will be important for users in Egypt after Noor Group, which had been the last internet service provider connecting to the outside world, went dark late on Monday. It had remained online after the country’s four main internet providers – Link Egypt, Vodafone/Raya, Telecom Egypt and Etisalat Misr – abruptly stopped shuttling internet traffic into and out of the country last Friday…
Mobile phone service was restored in Egypt on Saturday, but text messaging services have been disrupted during the continuing protests.
And no one really knows how long mobile phone service will stay up. Mubarak – or the army – may decide to shut down communications, again. Especially if they conclude that repression works better for them than tolerance of dissent.
Meanwhile – kudos to progressive geeks at Google and Twitter.