Speak2Tweet: How Egyptians are communicating with the masses without the internet

When the Egyptian government tried to silence hundreds of thousands of protesters by shutting down the country’s internet service, a new communication tool emerged. Speak2tweet is the new service that brings Google, Twitter, and SayNow together and has allowed thousands of messages to hit the internet without an internet connection. Many Egyptians still have cellphone service making their phones the only way to deliver immediate messages to the country and the world. Egyptians have three numbers they can call where they leave a message, the message gets saved as an audio clip on SayNow.com and shoots a tweet to www.twitter.com/speak2tweet with a link back to the audio. The world was able to see into the crisis in Egypt by receiving updates through speak2tweet like, “Urgent news: The police have changed to serve the people. We are very happy.” Today, there were over 9,000 followers from Egypt and around the world.

Share this story with your class and ask students to discuss or write about the following topics:

–Have you ever had to be creative or use your problem solving skills in an emergency?

–Can you name a similar situation to this in the U.S. or another country in the last twenty years?

–How would you react if your communication services were cut-off?

– How is the invention of speak2tweet similar to other inventions?

–What does this tactic of silencing communication say about the methods of the current administration that the masses oppose?

–Mubarak has been in power for thirty some years and he is now 83. Do you think there should be term limits on serving in foreign countries? Should there be age limits? What do these two factors have to do with the political unhappiness of most Egyptians?

–If you were Mubarak, what would you do? If you were Obama, what would you do? If you were a typical Egyptian, what would you do right now to peacefully resolve the conflict?

– How has the internet, Facebook, Twitter and other forms of communication changed the way people organize political movements?

–What other changes can you anticipate as a result of these technologies?

– Do you believe a similar situation could happen here in the U.S.? Why or why not?

Check out the New York Times article, “New Service Allows Egyptian Voices to Be Heard” to learn more.

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