Google and Twitter have recently launched a joint endeavor to devise a system that allows Egyptians to tweet despite Egyptian government efforts to restrict the country’s internet access. While this collaboration only represents the most recent combined undertaking in the two companies long history of cooperation, it is the first time that the two for profit companies collaborated on a public service project.
The two first teamed up in 2009 when Google agreed to work with Twitter to index past Tweets. Google, which with 100 Twitter accounts uses Twitter to engage in social media marketing, incorporated all Tweets posted on Twitter into its searchable database. This effort, which had huge implications for Google search rankings, allows consumers to search archived Tweets by content instead of simply by date.
The two collaborated again in 2010 with the integration of a Twitter platform in Google’s newly launched product, Google TV. With the product, viewers are able to both read and generate Tweets through Google TV, facilitating the already growing trend of tweeting about live television.
This latest collaboration, however, represents a whole new kind of partnership. The two for-profit companies launched a joint effort to promote a cause that both companies feel is in the public interest, free public access to information. In response to the Egyptian Government’s move to shut down the country’s sole internet service provider in its efforts to quell the protest that have gripped the nation, Google and Twitter engineers from the two companies worked together to create a service that converts spoken word into Tweets. According to the Google blog this new service will allow Egyptians to call a number and leave a message which will automatically be tweeted with the hashtag: #Egypt.
In this latest action, the two companies are clearly making a statement both about their worldviews and about their priorities. They are letting the world know not only that they believe strongly in public free access to information, but also that they are willing to allocate time and resources to promoting this end.