Egypt: Government blackouts country, Protests continue, and Modern World refuses to be blocked out

TWITTER – 31st January 2011 

RT @alaa How Egyptians Can Tweet Without Internet – http://goo.gl/PddjO “access Speak2Tweet Call +16504194196/ +390662207294 or +97316199855” 

RT @RWW Google & Twitter Team Up to Offer Speech-to-Tweet Service for Egypt http://rww.to/i1jINx 

RT @whateverson  Al Jazeera English is now streaming live on @YouTube http://bit.ly/fqcUOr (+ Arabic: http://bit.ly/g1S7Vj (You were a trooper LiveStation.) 

RT @AJEnglish We’ve launched direct phone line for people in #Egypt to submit reports to #AlJazeera Dial +97444896192 or +97444896190 #Jan25 

* * * * * 

Complete Internet Blackout in Egypt (Updated)
By Curt Hopkins
Date: 27th January 2011
Source: Read Write Web

After blocking Twitter on Tuesday and, intermittently, Facebook and Google on Wednesday, the Egyptian government has upped the ante, throwing a complete Internet access block across the whole of the country. Additionally blocked are Blackberry service and SMS.Reports are pouring in, many to Twitterers via landline, that the country has been “cut off” and is now a “black hole.”Reports from Cairo, Alexandria and elsewhere in the country indicate the block is wholesale and countrywide. 

CNN’s Ben Wedeman commented, “No internet, no SMS, what is next? Mobile phones and land lines? So much for stability” and asked “Will #Egypt totally cut communications with the outside world?”That depends, I think, on whether the idea now is to disrupt communications between groups of protesters or to lay a blackout curtain across Egypt to mask a total crackdown. As many as eight protesters, three in Cairo and five in Suez, have been killed, along with one policeman. I think if landlines and mobile go, the question must become, is the Egyptian government planning a wholesale massacre? (AP has raw footage of security forces converging, then killing a protester. Please be warned. This is some vicious shit.)Those in and outside of Egypt have pledged to keep as much in connection to one another using whichever avenues remain. This is one of those times, however, in which the presence of functioning traditional journalists will pick up from the citizens who had been reporting on the ground.UPDATES 

Some reports indicate landlines are down.Further reports indicate Vodafone will be shutting down mobile service and Facebook videos uploaded by those who retain Internet connection are getting deleted. Can anyone confirm?Egyptian interior ministry’s “decisive measures” may be code for “massacre” now that the Internet’s largely dark.Egyptian Internet cut-off documented by Rensys. Big four Egyptian ISPs, on which the majority of Egyptians, and Egyptian businesses and organizations, rely are offline.As of 12:35 p.m. (PST), all communications seem to be cut off “except landlines from 5 star hotels & Nour ISP” according to a source in the region (but not in the country).When rumors hit the protesters that the Egyptian Museum was going to be looted due to abrupt police abandonment, they ringed it with their own bodies to protect it.Another source, a journalist said:

“Latest I’ve read/heard confirmed:1) 93 percent of ‘net traffic blocked. Only one ISP, Noor, is still up and running2) Cell service cut off, per government order, in various places — may be countrywide now, but what I read suggested that they asked it to be selective (probably not in tourist destinations, for example).3) Some landlines, particularly in Cairo, are reported down as well.” 

* * * * * 

Some weekend work that will (hopefully) enable more Egyptians to be heard
Date: 31st January 2011
Source: Google 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. 

Update Feb 1, 12:47 PM: When possible, we’re now detecting the approximate (country-level) geographic origin of each call dialing one of our speak2tweet numbers and attaching a hashtag for that country to each tweet. For example, if a call comes from Switzerland, you’ll see #switzerland in the tweet, and if one comes from Egypt you’ll see #egypt. For calls when we can’t detect the location, we default to an #egypt hashtag. 

Posted by Ujjwal Singh, CoFounder of SayNow and AbdelKarim Mardini, Product Manager, Middle East & North Africa 

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