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What is FireChat, the app used by Hong Kong protesters

noviembre 29, 2019

It works with Bluetooth and allows you to communicate even without an Internet connection

(Photo: Pasu Au Yeung / Flickr CC)(Photo: Pasu Au Yeung / Flickr CC)

In the chaos of theprotests in Hong Kongagainst the restrictions imposed by the Chinese government, wins FireChat, the instant and anonymous messaging app, often confused with one of the many alternatives to WhatsApp or WeChat, which allows children in the square of communicate without too many problems and without mobile coverage or internet connection.

As someone will know, the app is not new: it comes from San Francisco, born a few months ago on iOS and recently also on Google Play. This is a service that uses theMultipeer Connectivity Framework –or a system that was introduced by Apple with iOS 7 – which allows you to create different bridges of communication between devices,using Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. In practice, the Multipeer Connectivity Framework use the systemmesh network, or a mesh network with which messages can travel from one phone to another through support for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, allowing you to create a chain formed by different devices connected to each other: wherever there are people who use FireChat, then a sort of is created local network where anyone can function as a server or client, so that messages arrive at their destination. Another special feature of this system is that it expands each time a new user accesses the service.

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<p>Although the concept on which it is based <strong>FireChat</strong> it is not totally innovative, because communication takes place via Bluetooth, in the last few days <strong>is literally depopulated in Hong Kong</strong> because it is used by pro-democracy Chinese protesters. Currently, <strong>more than 100 thousand activists have downloaded the application in just one night</strong> on iOS and Android, and at least 33 thousand those who use it quite frequently. A similar case had occurred in recent months in some provinces of Iraq, where the inhabitants had begun using FireChat to escape the limits imposed by the government, which had closed internet connections and blocked access to social media.</p>
<p><strong>The potential of the undeniable app</strong>: offers all the services of the classic instant messaging chats with the surplus of the operation even without Internet connection. The system, in fact, adapts perfectly to the spirit of the demonstrators, since, like a movement, it is not imposed from above, but finds the its strength from the thousands of small connections that come from below.</p>
<p>In short, it seems that today too<strong> protests are ever more 2.0</strong>. A doubt remains: <strong>FireChat will continue to resist the Chinese government's controls?</strong></p>
<p>In the meantime, whether you are an iOS or Android user, try it. And let us know what you think.</p>
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