Zello has been swelling in popularity over the past few days as protests in Venezuela and Ukraine reach historical sizes. This little app run by a company in Austin, Texas is helping to fuel protests that could change the world. It is currently the most downloaded app in Ukraine and growing massively in popularity in Venezuela despite an attempted block from the government.
This app which was invented in 2011 allows users to creat custom channel where a couple, dozen, or even thousands of people can be invited to join. Through Zello, much like walkie talkies, multiple people can speak with each other over large distances.
The app is useful to protesters because it provides an easy to use multi-channel walkie talkie way of communicating. As long as they have a mobile broadband connection, protester groups can move strategically by relaying information over the push to talk channels Zello provides.
As it grew in popularity the Venezuelan government caught on and began blocking service to it through their government owned internet service provider. Zello’s twitter than began to receive complaints from protesters in another part of the world. Zello than began working with protesters inside Venezuela to figure out and circumvent the ban.
This event reminds us of how social media sparked the events now known as the Arab spring, where people for the first time used the internet to overthrow their abusive governments. 450,000 people in Velenzuela belong to the most popular chat channel in their country, showing just how powerful a little app can be in uniting its people.