Home > World News > Google and Twitter launch service letting Egyptians tweet by phone

Google and Twitter launch service letting Egyptians tweet by phone

Voice-to-tweet software allows citizens to get news out despite internet blackout inside Egypt
Egypt protests: the country’s internet has been offline since last night. Photograph: Ben Curtis/AP
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, cofounder 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.”
Google listed three phone
numbers for people to call to use the service. They are: +16504194196;
+390662207294; and +97316199855.
No internet connection is
required. That will be important for users there 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.
At about 11pm
local time Monday, the Noor Group became unreachable, said James Cowie,
chief technology officer of Renesys, a security firm based in
Manchester, New Hampshire which monitors huge directories of “routes”,
or set paths that define how web traffic moves from one place to
another.
The Noor Group’s routes have disappeared, he said.
Cowie
said engineers at the Noor Group and other service providers could
quickly shut down the internet by logging on to certain computers and
changing a configuration file. The original blackout on Friday took
just 20 minutes to fully go into effect, he said. However it is not
clear whether the Noor Group’s disconnection was planned or accidental.
Mobile
phone service was restored in Egypt on Saturday, but text messaging
services have been disrupted during the continuing protests.
The Guardian News
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Categories: World News
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