Posted April 16, 2008 9:57 am by with 14 comments

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The next time your boss asks you why you spend so much time on Twitter, there’s a new reason you can add to the normal “I’m building buzz and making connections” speech.

Twitter might just help you get out of jail.

According to the The Mercury News, a 29-year-old UC Berkeley journalism student used Twitter to alert his network he had been arrested by Egyptian police for nothing more than taking a photo. As he was being carted off to a jail–presumably without many of the rights you’d expert in the US–he managed to alert his Twitter followers.

Buck, 29, a former Oakland Tribune multimedia intern, used the ubiquitous short messaging service to tap out a single word on his cellular phone: ARRESTED. The message went out to the cell phones and computers of a wide circle of friends in the United States and to the mostly leftist, anti-government bloggers in Egypt who are the subject of his graduate journalism project.

The next day, he walked out a free man with an Egyptian attorney hired by UC Berkeley at his side and the U.S. Embassy on the phone.

Wow! How scary and how very cool at the same time?


  • There are people I know who have been resisting joining up with twitter. This story should change their minds. What a story!

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  • How cool is that? I twitt from my iTouch, so I guess the jail cell should have WiFi access, right? 😉

    Seologia’s last blog post..Google no es tonto, vos sí

  • @Seologia – I’m sure it would have WiFi but I’d imagine it’s heavily secured. 😉

  • Great story, and a fortunate outcome for the individual in question…

    Not sure I’d always rely on social media as the sole mechanism for self preservation, but if you can reach the right people quickly and effectively it makes perfect sense.

    It reminds me of projects like the Amnesty Uncensored blog widget from a couple of years ago that displayed random snippets from censored works which led to imprisonment – because enough people displaying it made the imprisonment completely pointless…

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  • He is even more lucky he had the chance to even send that message and that they didn’t take any of his belonging such as his cellphoen away from him! Very scary indeed. He can say Twitter saved him. ~Steve

  • That’s amazing and twitterlicious! He is lucky that they didn’t take his belongings and more lucky that he had the opportunity to alert his network – LOL that’s a great story.

  • The power of mobile emphasized yet again! One can not ask for a more sure fire way to get an emergency message out, and coupled to triangulation with cell towers you can be quickly located….hmmm, this could also be used for more sinister apps…

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  • Hmm, that’s one of the coolest things I’ve heard today. Maybe I need an account, wait I work from home 🙁

  • That’s scary…Thanks God he could free from the jail very soon.

  • That’s great to hear – I guess I should build a Twitter following before I go taking pictures in some oppressive foreign land.

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  • Scary and cool is right. Twitter is a good way to get information to quite a lot of people in a very short time.

    Interesting that it was the first thing he thought to use to get help.

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  • @ Andybeal: Never underestimate the power of the good ol’ admin/admin 😉

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