updated 10:01 am EST, Fri November 30, 2012
Voicemail-based Twitter access re-opens amid mass disconnection
As Syria enters its second day of being cut off from the Internet, Google has reintroduced its voice-based Twitter update service, in an effort to allow Syrian users to contact the rest of the world. In collaboration with the microblogging service, Speak2Tweet lets users make a phone call to an international number, with the resulting voice recording posted on a dedicated Twitter feed.
The service is the same as the system rolled out during Egypt's own outage early last year. According to a Google+ post by the company, Syrian citizens wishing to use the service can call one of four numbers (+90 212 339 1447 or +30 21 1 198 2716 or +39 06 62207294 or +1 650 419 4196), and can both leave a voice message for others as well as listen to existing messages.
The Syrian government is denying claims that it has cut off Internet access, with Reuters reporting that the state are blaming "terrorists." The minister of information is quoted as saying "It is not true that the state cut the Internet," and that engineers were working on a fault in the "main communications and Internet cable."
Website CDN service CloudFlare gave its own explanation to the cut-off, to the point where it supplied a video showing network routes being withdrawn from the country. It shows connections from PCCW, Turk Telekom, Telecom Italia, and TATA being shut off systematically, suggesting routers being controlled by Syrian Telecommunications were being reconfigured, and not a physical failure or attack as the government described. It was also noted that the last four site requests CloudFlare received from Syria before the connection was severed included a photo sharing blog, a Syrian news site, a Muslim-oriented social network, and a porn site, giving the impression that the traffic requests from the Syrian population looked similar to traffic requests from other countries in the world.