Sunday, February 6, 2011

UPDATE: Google Goes Rebel, Supports Egyptian Protest

Twitter has been something of a lifeline for the Egyptian people in this time of struggle. It has been a major conduit for getting up to the minute information out of Egypt and it has allowed the Egyptian protesters to communicate and organize.

So when Hosni Mubarak pulled the plug in on the Internet last week in an effort to quell the dissent, the people at Google decided it was time to take their latest speech-to-text technology out of Google Labs and into the real world. They got together with Twitter and set up three phone lines that Egyptians could call and leave a voicemail that would be turned into a Tweet. The numbers, which went into service on Monday, are +16504194196, +390662207294 and +97316199855 and they have been advertised in Al Jazeera's ticker since. The tinker doesn't mention Google BTW.

Google quietly reported this in their official blog:
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. 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 worked with a small team of engineers from Twitter, Google and SayNow, a company we acquired last week, to make this idea a reality. 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. No Internet connection is required. People can listen to the messages by dialing the same phone numbers or going to twitter.com/speak2tweet.

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

In a presumably unrelated development, Google's head of marketing for the Middle East and North Africa has gone missing after joining protests against the Egyptian government on Friday. A Google employee at a protest sounds pretty par for the course to me. I remember that an anti-Bush demonstration at Santa Monica Airport in August 2004 just around the corner from Google's Santa Monica location pretty much cleared out the office. I ran into a friend that worked at Google at the protest and after it was over he took me back to the office and treated me to one of their free Pepsi's. On this missing Google employee The Wall Street Journal reports:
A Google spokesman said: “We care deeply about the safety of our employees.”

Wael Ghonim’s web postings suggest a deepening engagement with politics. His Facebook page lists opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei as a person he admires, along with Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Steve Jobs. In mid-January he tweeted that he was traveling to Qatar to participate at an Internet freedom forum hosted by network Al Jazeera.

Later, he sent a tweet that said he was going to join the Egyptian protests despite “all the warnings I got from my relative and friends.”

On Jan. 26 after Egypt clamped down on Twitter, Wael sent a tweet that was recirculated by colleagues, friends and strangers: “A government that is scared from Facebook and Twitter should govern a city in Farmville but not a country like Egypt,” he said, referring to the Farmville Internet game by Zynga Game Network Inc.

On Friday, he tweeted: “Very worried as it seems that government is planning a war crime tomorrow against people. We are all ready to die.”

As I write this automatic weapons fire is being heard in Tahrir Square and Al Jazeera is reporting a mounting death toll among the protesters. I fear for Wael Ghonim and all those in the square. I hope he can get to a phone and tweet us real soon.

This is a reprint from Feb. 02, 2011. It was going to be the title and whole diary that day but then the violence around Tahrir Sq started and this diary got buried under Act Now to Stop Mubarak's Thugs From Killing More!. Since it didn't get the attention I think it deserves and I have nothing else for a dairy today..

UPDATE: Wael Ghonim has been released on Monday after being held for 12 days by Egyptian police. Here is an interview he did with Al Jazeera



Here are the links to my articles at WL Central:
2011-02-04 Protesters roar back with "Day of Departure" for Mubarak
2011-02-03 Algerians plan Feb 12 protest against 19- year-long state of emergency
2011-02-01 Jordan's King Sacks Government as Protests Grow
2011-02-01 Tunisian Islamic Leader Returns as EU Freezes Ousted President's Assets
2011-02-01 Army Vows Not to Shoot as Protesters make Million Man Marches in Cairo, Alexandria Today [UPDATE: 2]
2011-01-30 Million Egyptian Protest Planned as Resistance Continues
2011-01-29 No Internet? No Problem! Anonymous Faxes Egypt
2011-01-28 In Jordan Thousands Demand New Government
2011-01-28 Mubarak Refuses to Step Down!
2011-01-28 Egypt is on Fire!
2011-01-27 Libya is in Revolt as Gaddafi Worries
2011-01-27 Algerians Plan Big Protest Rally for February 9th
2011-01-27 Tunisia Protests Continues as a Warrant is Issued for Ben Ali
2011-01-27 Tens of Thousands Rally in Yemen, Demand Change
2011-01-27 Mubarak Blinks as Egyptian Protests Continue for 3rd Day

Here is a recap of my other DKos diaries on the Internet, North Africa and Anonymous:

Act Now to Stop Mubarak's Thugs From Killing More! w Petition
Act Now to Stop Mubarak's Thugs From Killing More!
They Should Have Helped That Street Vendor
Million Egyptian Protest Planned as Resistance Continues
Huffington Post Disses the Jasmine Revolution Redux
No Internet? No Problem! Anonymous Faxes Egypt
Egypt is on Fire!
North African Revolution Continues
Egypt Protests Continue, Tunisia Wants Ben Ali Back
BREAKING: Protesters Plan Massive "Day of Wrath" in Egypt Today
Tunisians Thank Anonymous as North Africa Explodes
Huffington Post Disses the Jasmine Revolution
Tunisia: A Single Tweet Can Start A Prairie Fire!
Anonymous plans Op Swift Assist in Tunisia
Arrested Pirate Party Member Becomes Tunisian Minister
Is Libya Next? Anonymous Debates New Operation
Tunis: This Photo was Taken 66 Minutes Ago
The WikiLeaks Revolution: Anonymous Strikes Tunisia
EMERGENCY: DKos Must Act Now to Protect Tunisian Bloggers!
Free Software & Internet Show Communism is Possible
BREAKING - Digital Sit-Ins: The Internet Strikes Back!
Cyber War Report: New Front Opens Against Internet Coup d'├ętat
Operation PayBack: 1st Cyber War Begins over WikiLeaks
The Internet Takeover: Why Google is Next
BREAKING: Goodbye Internet Freedom as Wikileaks is Taken Down
BREAKING NEWS: Obama Admin Takes Control of Internet Domains!
Things Even Keith Olbermann Won't Cover - UPDATE: VICTORY!!!
Stop Internet Blacklist Bill Now!
Sweet Victory on Internet Censorship: Senate Backs Off!
Internet Engineers tell the Senate to Back Off!
Why is Net Neutrality advocate Free Press MIA?
Obama's Internet Coup d'├ętat
Julian Assange on Threat to Internet Freedom

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