Twitter blocked in Egypt as thousands of protesters call for government reform [Updated]
Twitter was blocked in Egypt on Tuesday as demonstrators called for political reforms and clashed with police.
The micro-blogging site, which was also used as a tool to organize and report what's going on in Tunisia's revolt, confirmed that its social networking service was unavailable to users in Egypt in a message from its Twitter PR account, @twitterglobalpr.
The tweet directed people to the Herdict Report, a website that tracks the blocking of other sites, that reported twitter.com was blocked, stating "the government is cracking down on activists calling for change."
The demonstrators took to the streets of Egypt to protest the government of President Hosni Mubarak, who has been in power for about three decades.
Protesters have called for term limits, among other political changes, as well as expressing their displeasure with high jobless rates.
Earlier in the day Tuesday, protesters were able to use Twitter in Egypt through third-party applications on computers and cellphones, but those too were eventually shut down, the website TechCrunch reported.
However, just as in Tunisia, some in Egypt have been able to access Twitter through Web proxies to help mobilize themselves.
The hashtag #jan25 has been placed in many of the tweets sent out dealing with the Egyptian protests.
And Facebook, too, has been used as a tool to get information out about the Egyptian protests, reports Jeffrey Fleishman of the Times' Cairo bureau who has been covering the protests.
Thousands of Egyptian protesters inspired by the revolt in Tunisia rushed police and battled tear gas Tuesday in demonstrations against the political repression and unemployment that have defined three decades of rule by President Hosni Mubarak.
Groups of protesters marched through downtown Cairo, crossing bridges and outflanking riot police as the crowds headed for a square a few blocks from the parliament building. Security forces, which had shown unusual restraint early in the day, swung batons and clashed with demonstrators amid chants of "Freedom" and "Down with Mubarak."
The protests were larger than any Egypt has seen in years. But it was unclear if the country's opposition could mimic Tunisia and capitalize on sustained public pressure to threaten one of the region's most entrenched police states. More than 80,000 people signed up on Facebook to attend the rallies but the number in the streets was far fewer.
Below is a video from a YouTube user going by the name Ahmedmoor of the unrest in Egypt, in this case protesters pushing back police.
[Updated at 6:53 p.m.: Twitter again confirmed that its website and third-party Twitter apps have been blocked in Egypt, saying over two messages (because each tweet is limited to 140 characters) from it's @twitterglobalpr account:
We can confirm that Twitter was blocked in Egypt around 8am PT today. It is impacting both Twitter.com & applications...We believe that the open exchange of info & views benefits societies & helps govts better connect w/ their people.]
-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Top photo: Anti-government protesters scatter after police fired tear gas at them during a demonstration in downtown Cairo, Egypt Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011. Credit:Nasser Nasser/AP Photo. Bottom photo: A demonstrator defaces a poster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Alexandria. Credit: AP Photo
Video credit: Ahmedmoor via YouTube