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Google, Twitter Launch "Speech-to-Tweet" Service to Help Egyptians Tweet

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Google, Twitter Launch "Speech-to-Tweet" Service to Help Egyptians Tweet


February 01, 2011

By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor

There's that phrase, “Twitter Revolution” again. Though historians don't much like the term, which is applied to scenarios in which the citizens of a troubled country with a restricted media use Twitter and other online social networking sites to update the rest of the world, via posts and photos, what's going on inside the country, the term seldom gets laid aside for long.

It was, of course, only a matter of time until someone began using the term to describe the heavy use of social networking tools such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube (News - Alert), to communicate the day-to-day happenings in Egypt. This time, however, there may be good reason.

International Business Times reported that Google (News - Alert), Inc., and Twitter are now actively offering a new method to help Egyptians, who are currently blocked from open Internet access, communicate using a voice connection system. The beleaguered president of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, has ordered a media blackout, disrupting Internet and even some mobile phone access, in an attempt to disallow protestors from communicating with both each other and the outside world. (The last Egyptian ISP offering Internet access was shut down yesterday.) The iron-fisted action has contributed to calls for his ouster.

A joint venture by Google, Twitter and SayNow, a company Google acquired last week, is now helping people in Egypt to stay connected and get their messages out using a special voicemail service. With this service, a voicemail on an international phone number which is enlisted on Google's official blog is instantly converted into a tweet, allowing protestors to get their tweets out without Internet access, essentially creating a sort of speech-to-tweet service.

Three phone numbers have been set up by Google for Egyptians to use the new service: +16504194196; +390662207294 and +97316199855.

A group of volunteers has organized to translate into English the tweets that have come in via the service. They can be viewed here.

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Tracey Schelmetic is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Tracey's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

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