• Student protesters raise their hands to show their non-violent intentions as they resist during change of shift for local police but backed down after being reassured they could reoccupy the pavement outside the government compound’s gate, Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014 in Hong Kong. Hong Kong police warned of serious consequences if pro-democracy protesters try to occupy government buildings, as they have threatened to do if the territory's leader doesn't resign by Thursday. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

    Student protesters raise their hands to show their non-violent intentions as they resist during change of shift for local police but backed down after being reassured they could reoccupy the pavement outside the government compound’s gate, Thursday, ... Oct. 2, 2014 in Hong Kong. Hong Kong police warned of serious consequences if pro-democracy protesters try to occupy government buildings, as they have threatened to do if the territory's leader doesn't resign by Thursday. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E) (The Associated Press)

  • A pro-government supporter, center, argues with pro-democracy  protesters during a rally in Hong Kong, Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014. Shops in Hong Kong have closed and the local stock market has plunged but protesters are gambling their agitation for greater democracy will pay off by preserving institutions that made this former British colony a profitable asset to China. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

    A pro-government supporter, center, argues with pro-democracy protesters during a rally in Hong Kong, Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014. Shops in Hong Kong have closed and the local stock market has plunged but protesters are gambling their agitation for ... greater democracy will pay off by preserving institutions that made this former British colony a profitable asset to China. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu) (The Associated Press)

Latest texting apps required gear for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong

Features Associated Press

Just as protesters in Egypt depended on Twitter three years ago, the latest digital tools have become required gear for tens of thousands of people demanding democratic reforms on the streets of Hong Kong.

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Many of the demonstrators are glued to the smartphone app FireChat, which lets them communicate even if cellphone networks jam or go down. The protesters just have to turn on their Bluetooth connections within 70 meters (230 feet) from anyone else using the app to see the messages sent by the entire chat group, creating a daisy-chain effect.

Cellphone networks and websites continue to work normally in Hong Kong, although protesters ran into slow network connections this week when trying to use their devices at the same time.

FireChat was reportedly downloaded 100,000 times by users in Hong Kong in just 24 hours earlier this week.

Frances Siu said she learned about FireChat via social media and quickly downloaded it before joining protesters in the city's tense streets.

"I downloaded it mainly because we are worried the mobile network might be interfered with," said Siu, a 25-year-old nurse. "I don't use it much now, but it's there if I need to."

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Website developer Amy Ho said she was using the app to figure out where to go and what to bring protesters.

"If this is your first time entering the Causeway Bay protest site and are unsure where the supply stations are, the app will share that information," Ho said.

Protest leaders, meanwhile, have turned to another messaging app, called Telegram, which depends on a network to operate but encrypts messages.

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Associated Press writers Jack Chang in Beijing and Joanna Chiu in Hong Kong contributed to this report.