February 1, 2011

Google Rolls Out Phone-Based Twitter Tool For Egyptians

Google has joined forces with Twitter to allow Egyptian citizens currently without an Internet connection to send microblogging messages by telephone, the company announced in a Monday blog post.

The two companies, along with newly acquired Google subsidiary SayNow, developed the 'speak-to-tweet' service over the weekend, according to SayNow Co-Founder Ujjwal Singh and Google Middle East & North Africa Product Manager AbdelKarim Mardini.

"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," Singh and Mardini wrote, describing the inspiration for the service.

"It's already live and anyone can tweet by simply leaving a voicemail on one of these international phone numbers (+16504194196 or +390662207294 or +97316199855) and the service will instantly tweet the message using the hashtag #egypt," they added.

No Internet connection is required to use the service, Google officials said, and Web surfers can listen to the messages by dialing the phone numbers listed above or by visiting a special webpage set up at Twitter.

"We hope that this will go some way to helping people in Egypt stay connected at this very difficult time," said Sing and Mardini. "Our thoughts are with everyone there."

Each of Egypt's four primary Internet service providers--Link Egypt, Vodafone/Raya, Telecom Egypt and Etisalat Misr--"cut off international access to their customers on Thursday after days of protests against President Hosni Mubarak," according to AFP reports. The only remaining ISP, Noor Group, "went dark late on Monday," added Charles Arthur of the Guardian.

"Internet social networking services like Twitter and Facebook have been important tools of communications for protesters in Egypt who have taken to the streets since last week to demonstrate against the 30-year rule of"¦ Mubarak," Reuters reporter Alexei Oreskovic wrote on Monday. "Internet service has been suspended around the country and phone text messaging has been disabled."


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