The barely six-month-old app, Firechat, has become the center of social pro-democracy rage during the Hong Kong protests. Since the center of the city has strained cellphone service, Firechat has enabled protestors to speak directly to each other, even if there is no working cellular data or Wi-Fi connection, through Bluetooth or Wi-Fi radios in the phones themselves. The Chinese government is heavily monitoring the Internet and many social media outlets; Instagram was recently shut down. However, Firechat offers users a mesh network that allows users to connect directly to each other without having to deal with the huge centralized hubs of the Internet. Even if the Internet does end up being blocked by the Chinese government, a mesh network will still work. Firechat just debuted in March, and this is the first massive use of a mesh mobile network in a political protest.
Contributor: Chelsea Edirisuriya