Politics & Policy

Creepy Text Message Rumor Confirmed

Vodafone has confirmed that they were forced by the regime to send text messages to Egyptians encouraging them to counter-protest. More eerily: Egypt evidently had information about the owners of specific cell phones, such that they could tailor the messages. The Times reports:

 

Since regime supporters appeared on the streets of Cairo in the early hours of Wednesday morning, Egyptian bloggers have been passing around photographs of text messages received on mobile phone across Egypt, calling on young people to stay off the streets and encouraging “Egypt’s honest and loyal men to confront the traitors and criminals” protesting for President Hosni Mubarak to step down.

One Egyptian blogger, who writes as ElFoulio, posted this image of two messages received on Wednesday, which read:

The armed forces is keen on your security and safety and will not use force against this great people.

A huge protest will start Wednesday afternoon in Mustapha Mahmoud Square in Mohandisseen to support President Mubarak.

The Guardian live blog on the crisis points to these images of some of the text messages uploaded to a Flickr gallery with English translations by a blogger named Riham Nabil:

 

The translations of the texts also appear to suggest that different messages were sent to different phones, perhaps indicating that the Egyptian government has specific information on each mobile owner. One message, apparently sent to suspected protesters, reads: “Youth of Egypt, beware rumors and listen to the sound of reason – Egypt is above all so preserve it.”

Another message, seeking to rally regime supporters, read: “The Armed Forces asks Egypt’s honest and loyal men to confront the traitors and criminals and protect our people and honor and our precious Egypt.”

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