Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Do You Twitter?

Maybe you should. I joined Twitter today, and according to the friends they were able to track thru my Gmail address book a lot of folks have some catching up to do.

Why would you want to join another online social network though: Maybe because if you're the kind of person who likes challenging authority and is always at risk of being visited by the Department of Homeland Security, this little social network could be your best friend?

When Egyptian police scooped up University of California, Berkeley, graduate journalism student James Karl Buck, who was photographing a noisy demonstration, and dumped him in a jail cell last week, they didn't count on Twitter.

Buck, 29, a former Oakland Tribune multimedia intern, used the ubiquitous short messaging service to tap out a single word on his cellular phone: ARRESTED.

The message went out to the cell phones and computers of a wide circle of friends in the United States and to the mostly leftist, anti-government

bloggers in Egypt who are the subject of his graduate journalism project.

The next day, Buck walked out a free man with an Egyptian attorney hired by the university at his side and the U.S. Embassy on the phone.

Twitter, the micro-blogging service for cell phone users, allows messages up to 140 characters long. Twitter users can allow anyone they wish to join their network and receive all their messages. Buck has a large network, so Twitter gave him an instant link to the outside world.

He recalls advice from his Twitter friends came in mounds of terse messages.

"It was a combination of things. My Egyptian friends told me to play the 'American (card)' and try to force my way out," Buck said. They also told him that it was no big deal and to just stay calm.

Meanwhile, U.S. friends on his Twitter net called the university and the American Embassy. They also alerted the Associated Press, the International Herald Tribune and other media, which helped put the heat on the Egyptian authorities. He was released Friday and returned home Sunday.

Full Story: The Mercury News

Want to join or just learn more?
Check out the Twitter site!

1 comment:

pj said...

This is awesome...who would have thought it would save his life?!

At the end of the day though, it was the American muscle that helped make the difference.