As Twitchy reported yesterday, Syria is experiencing a nationwide Internet blackout as fighting intensifies in the region.

When Egypt was cut off from the Internet in 2011, Google and Twitter partnered to launch the Speak2Tweet service to give those without online connections the ability to tweet. The service still exists, and Google is hoping it will be useful to Syrians who can’t access Twitter during the blackout.

While many Syrians have only sporadic access to landline and mobile phone service, Google and Twitter are ensuring that when phone connections are working, they can get their messages out to the Twitterverse.

No Internet connection is required, and people can listen to the messages by dialing the same phone numbers or going to

As this Twitter user points out, it’s impossible to tell what country each message is coming from. But in a chilling message he retweeted, the caller says, “I don’t know what to say, but we need help. We need help.”

A great suggestion from Wall Street Journal technology editor Scott Austin:

  • GaryTheBrave

    I’m assuming they somehow know the phone number. How do they know they reached 140 characters?

  • JustLikeAnimals

    Here’s the basic dope on Speak2Tweet.

    I imagine the Google speech-to-text software parses the voice message into 140 characters snippets and posts them to Twitter under the determine hashtag. That wouldn’t be a difficult algorithm for Google and Twitter to work out.

    Good question about the phone numbers. Perhaps landline calling a friend on the “outside” to get the numbers, then passing them around internally in country. Perhaps not a perfect, widely distributed program of communication, but better than a total blackout.

    Hats off to Google and Twitter. Nice work.