On January 25th 2011, Egypt’s history was forever changed with the start of wide scale protests calling for President Hosni Mubarak to step down after 30 years in power (Reuters, 2011). Three days later, the Egyptian government blocked the country’s internet and cellphone access in an attempt to muzzle the protesters’ cries for democracy, this resulted in wide spread condemnations from across the globe (Rankin, 2011; Richtel, 2011). But despite the governments best attempts to silence them, journalists and protesters trapped within Egypt were quick to find alternative means to get their stories out and have their voices be heard.
One of the tools that has allowed people tell the world what is actually occurring in Egypt is Audioboo. Audioboo is an online based mobile and web audio recording and streaming site, which has grown massively in popularity during the Egyptian crisis (Audioboo Ltd., 2011). This is because it has allowed journalists from platforms including Al Jazeera (whose Cairo offices were shut down on Sunday January 30th) to post live audio updates on what is taking place in Egypt (Ben-David, 2011; The Peninsula, 2011).
Audioboo began streaming Egyptian coverage on January 27th 2011, with a post by the Audioboo user WilYaWil (an Egyptian citizen), who streamed audio from one protest taking place in Egypt. Al Jazeera began posting Audioboo files one day later by recording messages through another social messaging tool: Skype, and since then this channel has become an extremely popular source of information on the Egyptian crisis (Ben-David, 2011; The Peninsula, 2011). For example, Al Jazeera’s English channel was viewed for 26 million minutes during one 12 hour period on January 30th alone (The Peninsula, 2011). As of today, Al-Jazeera has posted 24 updates in English, and many others have posted to Audioboo including: reporters Matthew Weaver and Haroon Siddique. Audioboo has provided these individuals with the ability to uphold some degree of freedom of speech in a country where the freedom of many has been greatly reduced.
Audioboo was founded in March of 2009 in London, England, and from its inception grew in popularity and became a full-fledged business in 2010 (Audioboo Ltd, 2011). Today Audioboo has an international audience, with users streaming and listening to posts throughout North America, Australia, Europe and Asia. Audioboo is both easy to use and accessible, as users can quickly signup for a free account or sign in via Twitter. Users are also able record and listen to audio files (known as boos) through their phone or on their computer so they can stay up to date wherever they are. Audioboo is also highly connected to other social media websites including Facebook and Twitter. Audioboo users can login to Audioboo and upload boos using their Twitter account. They can also set their account to automatically upload recordings to their Facebook profile. Furthermore, Audioboo has an active Twitter profile, where popular and timely boos are tweeted. By bring together these different social media platforms Audioboo has been able to connect to many and allow people to easily disseminate and listen to important information from around the world.
As the crisis in Egypt continues to unfold, Audioboo will remain an important venue where people from around the world can get access to information about what is happening inside of Egypt. By all indications, Audioboo will continue to improve and expand it capabilities and will continue to be a useful tool for information access and dissemination.
Audioboo Ltd. (2011). Getting Started with Audioboo. Retrieved from http://audioboo.fm/about/audioboo
Ben-David, R. (2011, January 30). Egyptian authorities order closure of Al-Jazeera offices. The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved from http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=205902
Rankin, J. (2011, January 28). Pulling the plug on the internet. The Toronto Star. Retrieved from: http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/930211–pulling-the-plug-on-the-internet#article
Reuters (2011, January 26). Egypt’s Mubarak faces unprecedented protests. The Toronto Star. Retrieved from http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/927607–egypt-s-mubarak-faces-unprecedented-protests
Richtel, M. (2011, January 28). Egypt cutes off most internet and cell service. The New York Times. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/29/technology/internet/29cutoff.html?_r=1&ref=mattrichtel
The Peninsula (2011, January 30). Al Jazeera uses social media to avoid Egypt curbs. Retrieved from http://www.thepeninsulaqatar.com/qatar/140845-al-jazeera-uses-social-media-to-avoid-egypt-curbs.html