In a tweet posted on February 3, 2021, offline messaging app Bridgefy announced that it had been downloaded over one million times in the last 48 hours, following a military coup that unfolded in Myanmar.
Bridgefy, a Mexican tech startup, first rose to prominence during pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong back in 2020.
Following the detention of Myanmar’s democratically elected leaders, people turned to Bridgefy as a way to communicate sans the internet.
IMAGE: Reuters / BBC
After all, during the coup, internet and phone connections were briefly severed in the capital, Naypyitaw, as well as the country’s main city, Yangon. Despite communications networks being reinstated, Myanmar activists have encouraged people to download Bridgefy to circumvent future connection cuts.
Bridgefy CEO Jorge Rios told Reuters that between February 1 and February 2, 2021, the app was downloaded more than 1.1 million times. For context, Myanmar has an estimated 22 million social media users.
“Hopefully, people will find it helpful during tough times. Please stay safe,” a Bridgefy tweet reads, in reference to the sudden surge in downloads in Myanmar.
Bridgefy’s offline messaging app utilizes the power of bluetooth and mesh networks to enable its users to communicate with each other. No internet needed.
If all of that sounds like gibberish to you, here’s a simple explanation.
IMAGE: Tech Crunch
A mesh network is a group of devices that are all connected to each other, thanks to their built-in bluetooth antennas. Yes, all modern smartphones have one.
Using a technology called Bluetooth Low-Energy, two individual devices running the app can connect to each other at distances of up to 100 meters (330 feet) apart.
But what happens when you need to communicate with someone at a distance further than 100 meters away? As long as you’ve got other people using the app in between you and the person you intend to communicate with, you can use their connections as a digital bridge of sorts, linking Person A to Person B.
This Bridgefy infographic illustrates it very well:
Essentially, the more people that use the app, the wider your communication coverage. And this could prove extremely useful to the people of Myanmar. Or at least, those that oppose the coup.
When the app started gaining global attention, skeptics warned existing and potential users about security vulnerabilities.
But the company has assured users that security has been beefed up.
“We’d just like to share that we fixed security issues last year, and added the Signal Protocol to the Bridgefy App,” reads a Bridgefy tweet posted on February 2, 2021. “Direct messages between two people are encrypted end-to-end!”
Aside from pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, the Bridgefy app has also been used in anti-government rallies in Thailand. The company also enjoys backing from Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, further raising its global status as a valuable communications tool.
To check out Bridgefy for yourself, you can head to their official website.
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ที่มา : Mashable