FireChat introduces a new way to chat: “off-the-grid”. Instead of relying on a central server, it is based on peer-to-peer “mesh networking” and connects to nearby phones using Bluetooth and WiFi, with connectivity increasing as more people use it in an area.
It became very popular in Hong Kong. On 28 September 2014 afternoon in Hong Kong (around 11 PM PT on Saturday), Open Garden started seeing a lot more FireChat activity in the region. Over 100,000 people downloaded it in 24 hours in Hong Kong over the weekend, with the CEO saying that numbers are “booming” and up to 33,000 people were using the app at the same time.
In Hong Kong, students and their supporters are protesting China’s refusal to back democratic elections for the territory as it promised when it took over Hong Kong from the British in 1997. China has a dismal track record when it comes to censorship, so an app like FireChat is an ideal protest tool, keeping people connected even when the government shuts down the communications infrastructure.
Use of apps like FireChat shows how HK demonstrators are using tech tactics and are prepared for network shutdowns. It’s also been used by Iraqis and Taiwanese students during their anti-Beijing Sunflower Movement.
- Instantly chat with anyone around you,
- Works even without any Internet connection or mobile phone coverage ,
- Use the “Nearby” mode for off-the-grid communications, up to 200 feet of your location,
- Multihop capabilities extend the range of peer-to-peer communications,
- See what people are talking about all over the country in the “Everyone” mode,
- Create your own ‘firechats’ for live discussions with up to tens of thousands of simultaneous users
- Choose your own unique username and avatar
- No significant impact on battery consumption.
Due to our mission to uphold the right to privacy, which is guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Privatoria recommends FireChat as an alternative to communicate without a cell network.
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