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Iraqis fight Internet blockade with FireChat

Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has the history of not reading the writing on the wall. As the Isis militants advance leaving the trail of massacre, Maliki has bravely picked the mother of all soft targets – the Internet. Doug Madory of Renesys has graphically narrated how the Iraqi government refers “network maintenance” to Internet shutdown.

Modern Iraqis, both Shiite and Sunnis, have, however, switched over to mesh network and communicate through an application named FireChat.

FireChat was originally developed as a way for people to communicate in areas with poor mobile phone reception, such as underground trains. Its anonymous chat rooms are used in the US to discuss a range of topics, with the most popular FireChat about the TV series Game of Thrones.

But after its launch three months ago, it quickly gained ground in countries where the internet was blocked. Some 7,000 chat rooms were created in Iraq in the past five days, out of a total of 75,000 worldwide since the app’s launch.

Iraqi users of FireChat say the service has become popular since the government started to block social media since the Sunni militant insurgency swept through northern Iraq.

Read the full report.

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