Hong Kong Protestors Using Mesh Messaging App China Can’t Block: Usage Up 3685%
How do you communicate when the government censors the internet? With a peer-to-peer mesh broadcasting network that doesn’t use the internet.
That’s exactly what Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters are doing now, thanks to San Francisco startup Bridgefy’s Bluetooth-based messaging app. The protesters can communicate with each other — and the public — using no persistent managed network.
And it’s led to swift growth for Bridgefy: downloads are up almost 4,000% over the past 60 days, according to Apptopia estimates (Apptopia is an app metrics company).
The app can connect people via standard Bluetooth across an entire city, thanks to a mesh network. Chatting is speediest with people who are close, of course, within a hundred meters (330 feet), but you can also chat with people who are farther away. Your messages will simply “hop” via other Bridgefy users’ phones until they find your intended target.
While you can chat privately with contacts, you can also broadcast to anyone within range, even if they are not a contact.
That’s clearly an ideal scenario for protesters who are trying to reach people but cannot use traditional SMS texting, email, or the undisputed uber-app of China: WeChat. All of them are monitored by the state.
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Image: HONG KONG, CHINA – SEPTEMBER 02 / GETTY IMAGES