Google and Twitter reveal ‘speak-to-tweet’ system for Egypt

31 Jan 2011

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Google and Twitter have revealed a new innovation that could help Egyptian citizens blocked by their own government from the internet to use ordinary phone calls to tweet via Twitter to the outside world.

Over the weekend, harsh measures by Hosni Mubarak’s regime saw Egyptian citizens blocked from sending SMS messages or accessing the internet and services like Facebook and Twitter.

However, just one week after Google acquired Silicon Valley voice start-up SayNow for an undisclosed sum, the company’s founders Ujjwal Singh and Nikhyl Singhal along with Twitter have concocted a ‘speak-to-tweet’ system to help citizens break through the oppressive censorship and tell the world what’s happening on the streets of Cairo and in other cities.

Tweeting over voice connection

“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,” the SayNow founders said on the official Google blog.

“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,” they said.

“We worked with a small team of engineers from Twitter, Google and SayNow to make this idea a reality.”

The service is already live and anyone can tweet by simply leaving a voice mail 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 dialling 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,” the SayNow founders said.

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Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com