The offline messaging app Bridgefy said Myanmar downloaded 600,000 times in a few hours after the Myanmar military seized power on Monday and temporarily interrupted internet traffic.

The Mexico-based startup was very popular in the Hong Kong democracy protests in 2020 and tweeted that it hoped that the people of Myanmar would find its application useful during difficult times.

After the country’s democratically elected leaders were arrested, telephone and Internet connections were interrupted in Yangon and the main capital, Yang Pyi Taw, as well as in other parts of the country.

Communication was restored later on Monday, but in social media posts seen by Reuters, activists in Myanmar encouraged the download of Bridgefy as a solution to a possible further shutdown.

Bridgefy’s supporters include Twitter’s co-founder Biz Stone, and it has also been used in anti-government rallies in Thailand. Bridgefy is one of many Bluetooth-based applications that use a mesh network to allow users to communicate without an Internet connection.

They have gained popularity globally, especially in the history of restrictions imposed on social media platforms and Internet providers, although security experts say they can be infiltrated, exposing users to surveillance risks.

A similar application Firechat has been used for protests in Iran and Iraq.

Thomson Reuters 2021 ©

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