HONG KONG (CBS SF) — Protesters in Hong Kong are using creative tools to coordinate their demonstrations, including a San Francisco-Bay Area app Firechat.
Umbrellas and smartphones were the weapons of choice for protesters trying to protect themselves from tear gas sprayed by police into crowds.
Despite attempts by Beijing to cut off internet access and stifle communication protesters worked around the blackout using an app created on Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay by a startup company named Open Garden.
In the past twenty four-hours the Firechat app was downloaded 100-thousand times in Hong Kong.
“They can continue to communicate even with no infrastructure, no wifi needed, no cellular coverage,” Open Garden co-founder Stanislav Shalunov said.
Users can’t be farther than 100-feet from each other, but in a huge crowd the web users can quickly create a massive network.
“People in Hong Kong who are protesting for democracy are able to use Firechat in a way that helps fight oppression against their internet use. We can’t solve their problems, but at least we can help with communication,” Shalunov said.