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Human Potential in the Age of Exponential Tech

Well Played: Twitter Helps Free Berkeley Student in Egypt

Came across this while I was surfing today, via digg.

Authorities Didn’t Count on Twitter

James Karl Buck, a UC Berkely student was arrested by Egyptian Police a few days ago as he photographed a noisy demonstration.

He managed to send a text message to his Twitter account, with one word: ARRESTED. And his network jumped into action.

Twitter, is basically a micro-messaging system that asks users to describe what they are doing in 140 characters or less, and then sends that message out to that person’s network of subscribed friends.

First, the advice poured in, from messages urging him to stay calm, to suggestions that he play “the American Bitch” and force his way out. His American friends immediately contacted the American Embassy and UC Berkeley who arranged for legal representation. They also alerted the media including the Associated Press that helped get the word out about Buck’s situation.

He was released the next day.

A Bitter-Sweet Victory

Unfortunately, this story doesn’t quite have a happy ending. Buck’s friend and interpreter Mohammed Salah is still being detained, after having been arrested at the same protest. As an Egyptian Citizen he didn’t have the US Embassy or Associated Press backing him up.

The current situation is dire for Egyptian bloggers who speak out against the government. Many are detained indefinitely without charges. Egypt isn’t exactly known for it’s humane treatment of prisoners either.

If you want to help you can sign this petition.

We definitely need to publicize what is happening in countries like Egypt where there is no freedom of the press. To make matters worse, not only can you get arrested without charges, but many Egyptian families out there don’t even know WHERE their loved ones are being held, or if they are even still alive.

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