Google’s SayNow rolls out service aimed at allowing Egyptians to tweet by voice
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Google bought SayNow on Jan. 25 and less than a week later the company has rolled out a new service aimed at helping people in Egypt send messages on Twitter, using a phone.
The move comes as protests in Egypt, calling for the ouster of 30-year-President Hosni Mubarak and other political reforms, are headed for an eighth day of action and the Internet and most phone service remains shut down.
Wael Ghonim, Google’s head of marketing for the Middle East and North Africa, was also reported missing in Egypt on Monday.
Ujjwal Singh, the co-founder of SayNow and AbdelKarim Mardini, a Google product manager in the Middle East and North Africa, wrote about the service, saying:
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.
An example of someone calling the international numbers and leaving a message is embedded above, and as noted in Singh and Mardini’s statement, such messages can be heard at twitter.com/speak2tweet.
Social media platforms, such as SayNow’s Speak To Tweet, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have aided protesters in Egypt, just as they did in Tunisia’s overthrow of its government.
And it seems social media companies have taken note and shown support for the demonstrators in Egypt.
Twitter co-founder Biz Stone wrote a blog post declaring that ‘freedom of expression is a human right,’ and a Facebook spokesman sent a statement to the Technology blog saying: ‘A world without the Internet is unimaginable.’ Google owns YouTube and SayNow.
-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles