John

More Twitterlicious News: Now It Frees Prisoners.

In News on April 19, 2008 at 10:33 am

(Pic from AmberMac)

Ah, the perils of being a print magazine. I’ve just submitted to print a monthly column called WebWatch to NewMan that’s gonna come out in May detailing the rise of Twitter. It was written about three weeks ago and having just copy-proofed it, I can’t help but think how dated the piece is already.

Since then, its popularity has skyrocketed. I’ve got tonnes (okay, two) new friends who’ve just come onboard the microblogging service. John C Dvorak, the curmudgeon who absolutely detested the notion of twittering, is now a strong advocate for it. The Diggnation hosts, Kevin Rose and Alex Albrecht have an account each. Diggnation has an account. Hell, even No 10 Downing Street has one.

And now I get more stories praising Twitter, the most recent one involving a Berkeley student twittering from an Egyptian prison, and eventually getting himself free–thanks to the almighty Twitter. Will wonders never cease?

From Mercury News:

When Egyptian police scooped up UC 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, he walked out a free man with an Egyptian attorney hired by UC Berkeley at his side and the U.S. Embassy on the phone.

“They use Twitter sort of like an instant wire service,” he said. “It’s the way they keep in touch with each other. They go to an event and Twitter what’s happening. Twitter net called the university and the American Embassy.

Back home in Berkeley last night he said he’s still worried about his interpreter and friend, Mohammed Salah Ahmed Maree, who was arrested with him and is still being held incommunicado by Egyptian authorities. Unlike Buck, he didn’t have the muscle of the U.S. Embassy and UC Berkeley.

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