Egypt: A Voice in the Blackout, Thanks to Google and Twitter

This post is part of our special coverage of Egypt Protests 2011.

This evening, following the total Internet blackout in Egypt, Google and Twitter (along with SayNow, a company recently acquired by Google) made a timely announcement: that they were jointly launching SpeaktoTweet, a service that would allow Egyptians to call an international number and record a voice message that would then be tweeted from the Twitter account @speak2tweet.  All evening, recordings have been popping up on the Twitter account from Egyptians who have had the chance to learn about the service.  Because of the total Internet ban, Egyptians on the ground have presumably learned about the service from phone calls to and from friends and family outside of the country.

@monasosh is one such user; as her brother @alaa announced that she had taken advantage of the service.  Her recording, available here, is roughly transcribed as follows:

Hi, this is Mona from Cairo, I just wanted to let the world know that we have been disconnected from our last point of communication through the Internet and there’s a strong word going around that we will again be disconnected from mobile phone calls.  So, I wanted everyone to know in case you don’t get any feedback from what’s happening tomorrow, and I didn’t want anyone to worry about us.

They did this before, the only difference is the last when time they did this I was completely freaked out; I was so scared that they were going to shoot us all and nobody would know about us.  This time, I’m not scared at all, I feel as if, like, I want to tell them ‘bring it on!’ We are excited, we are happy, we are going to be in Tahrir Square tomorrow, we are going to be huge, and we are going to do our march and do our protest and Mubarak is going out.

[sigh] Be with us!  Bye bye.

Most of the calls are made anonymously, without the speaker identifying him or herself. Another call from Egypt, available here, is as follows:

Tomorrow, history will be made. Tomorrow, we will make history. Tomorrow, the Mubarak regime will be over. Tomorrow, we want you out of our country. Long live Egypt.

Egyptians outside of the country have also taken advantage of the service to have their message heard by the world. One such user, who self-identifies as Egyptian-American, spoke:

…You are making us so proud, you are making us so so proud in America. Stay strong, Egyptians, stay strong, we love you here. This is an Egyptian-American and talking for all of the Egyptian-Americans who emigrated here because of the brutal regime, stand strong: you’re making us so proud. Free Egypt. I love you! [Egypt, mother of the world].

Anyone can take advantage of the service by calling one of the following international numbers and leaving a voicemail: +16504194196 or +390662207294 or +97316199855. Their message will be automatically tweeted at @Speak2Tweet.


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