With the unruly sounds of protests in the background, the Egyptian man declared there were
50,000 demonstrators in the streets of Cairo.
“And the number is growing,” he said, raising his voice to be heard on the recording.
Unedited, raw, anonymous and emotional, Egyptian voices are trickling out through a new service that evades attempts by the authorities to suppress them by cutting Internet services.
There is still some cellphone service, so a new social-media link that marries Google, Twitter and SayNow, a voice-****d social media platform, gives Egyptians three phone numbers to call and leave a message, which is then posted on the Internet as a recorded Twitter message. The messages are at twitter.com/speak2tweet and can also be heard by telephone.
The result is a story of a revolution unfolding in short bursts. Sometimes speaking for just several seconds, other times for more than a minute, the disembodied voices convey highly charged moments of excitement or calm declarations of what life is like in Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country, as it seeks to remove its leader.
The messages rolled out as Egyptians seemed to be approaching a crucial point, with hundreds of thousands of people crammed into central Cairo on Tuesday, as protests continued to demand the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak.
Protesters have sought to use social media like Facebook and Twitter to muster momentum for attendance at demonstrations, even as the Egyptian authorities have shut off Internet access.
“Urgent news,” one caller to speak2tweet said. “The police have changed to serve the people. We are very happy.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, the account had more than 8,000 followers. On Tuesday, the service started to identify the country from which each recorded message came. While most were from Egypt, they included calls from Germany and the United States in Arabic and English, and messages from Arabic speakers in the Netherlands and Turkey.
It was clear that support for the uprising in Egypt had crossed borders.