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Kenyan Chief Foils Robbery Via Twitter

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the twitter-has-accomplished-something-useful dept.

Twitter 50

PolygamousRanchKid writes with this quote from CNN: "A Kenyan chief in a town far from the bustling capital foiled a predawn robbery recently using Twitter, highlighting the far-reaching effects of social media in areas that don't have access to the Internet. Chief Francis Kariuki said he got a call in the dead of the night that thieves had broken into a neighbor's house. Local residents, who subscribe to his tweets through a free text messaging service, jumped into action. They surrounded the house, sending the thugs fleeing into the night. In the town 100 miles from Nairobi, a majority of residents don't have access to computers, the Internet or smart phones. The sporadic cyber cafes strewn across the landscape charge for Internet access. However, almost every household has a cell phone and text messages are a major form of communication in the nation."

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M.O. (4, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 2 years ago | (#39088037)

"They tried to steal our filing cabinet of birth certificates!"

Re:M.O. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39088063)

Some republicans think they were planning on taking Obama's real birth certificate?

Re:M.O. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39088311)

I propose we slaughter all the birthers. Nothing of value would be lost.

Your assistance is requested (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39088139)

He now needs your help moving the town's valuables out of the country, and would be willing to offer you 10% of the value as long as you deposit a cashier's check and make a western union transfer. God bless you.

Re:Your assistance is requested (0)

oiron (697563) | more than 2 years ago | (#39088811)

Wrong side of the continent...

What? Did you think the US was the only thing in the universe with two coasts?

Re:Your assistance is requested (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39091001)

Surprise... it's comic book guy.

I'll bet you're loads of fun at get-togethers.

Re:Your assistance is requested (1)

Urkki (668283) | more than 2 years ago | (#39091113)

Wrong side of the continent...

What? Did you think the US was the only thing in the universe with two coasts?

Yeah, but Africa is so small. Only 6 letters. Also Africa is about the size of Greenland, as irrefutably proven by this map [mapsofworld.com] . And Greenland has only about 50k [wikipedia.org] people. That's how small Africa is, and so stuff like "which coast" is rather irrelevant.

Re:Your assistance is requested (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39091545)

/.../ Also Africa is about the size of Greenland, as irrefutably proven by this map [mapsofworld.com] . /.../

Funky map projection. But that map seem to (roughly) show Scandinavia in the right proportions vis-à-vis Great Britain, the West and Central Europe, and N. Americas. When I try to explain how fucking large my home country (Sweden, the third largest country on the European continent) is compared to the other puny European countries (except Russia and Spain), nobody believes me, because Sweden looks very small in most world map projections.

World maps are all evil, go buy a terrestrial globe.

Re:Your assistance is requested (1)

Urkki (668283) | more than 2 years ago | (#39091871)

Yeah, good old Mercator [wikipedia.org] . Distorting world view of "Westerners" since 16th century, even if it has some nice properties, which make it favourite choice of services like Google Maps even today.

But I hope, perhaps in vain, that anybody reading /. has at least vague understanding of the subject, considering how relevant it is today, with all the online maps around.

Whatphone (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39088161)

I notice the headline doesn't mention 'iPhone'.

Two Crimes Committed (5, Informative)

retroworks (652802) | more than 2 years ago | (#39088203)

Africa has more cell phones than toilets. http://blogs.worldbank.org/africacan/more-cell-phones-than-toilets [worldbank.org] The entire infrastructure was built on "e-waste", used cell phones were imported and hacked/jailbroken, which created enough subscribers for private sector companies to erect the towers. The free market bypassed the entire government-infrastructure track. Of course, there is evidence of a second crime here.... http://archive.basel.int/industry/mppi/gdfd30Jun2010.pdf [basel.int] Cell phones are labelled "e-waste" in Europe http://retroworks.blogspot.com/2011/09/new-world-order-interpol-calls.html [blogspot.com] and Africans who buy them have been declared "criminals" by Interpol.

Re:Two Crimes Committed (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39088747)

I would think there are more cell phones than toilets every country. Cell phones are generally a 1:1 thing and toilets a 1:Many.

Re:Two Crimes Committed (1)

MattBD (1157291) | more than 2 years ago | (#39091627)

I would think there are more cell phones than toilets every country. Cell phones are generally a 1:1 thing and toilets a 1:Many.

Not really. Most households in the developed world, will have two or more toilets nowadays, but there's also toilets in workplaces, and public toilets.

Re:Two Crimes Committed (1)

hobarrera (2008506) | more than 2 years ago | (#39095611)

Yes, but never more toilets than people, and not usually in the lower-class either.
It's easy to imagine 4-6 people with a single toilet at home, yet most of them having cell-phones.
In many poorer places, the elderly live with their children, so no extra toilet there.

Re:Two Crimes Committed (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#39088751)

I don't think your post or your links establish the crucial point: has anybody been prosecuted who was NOT improperly dumping toxic waste into the environment?

Re:Two Crimes Committed (3, Interesting)

retroworks (652802) | more than 2 years ago | (#39089153)

Yep. Many have been prosecuted, many goods seized. Usually, it's someone like Mubarak, declaring working items "toxic waste". But it just takes a few seizures to put the chill on would be resellers and donors. In the UK, they take nice looking electronics, sabotage them, sell them to the Nigerians as "working", then bust the Nigerians for exporting waste. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/man-held-after-tonnes-of-illegal-ewaste-are-exported-to-africa-1816570.html [independent.co.uk] This week a study showed 85% of the ones imported into Ghana and Nigeria were working, and the material at the dump in Nigeria (described in the Guardian) was generated by Africans after years of use. A lot of innocent people are getting screwed. I realize it's a niche issue for many here. But go ahead and read the Guardian article, then read the /. report on the Basel study last weekend.

Re:Two Crimes Committed (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#39090321)

Well, prosecutions and seizures are a good thing if the people really were cut-rate recyclers using damaging, illegal reclamation processes, unapproved dumps, and/or child labor. This is an actual, documented problem.

Also, the Guardian article makes clear something that was not clear from your previous post: that this is not - at least on the face of it - just a conspiracy by western cellphone makers to stop Africans from getting cheap cellphones: "Under European law, equipment which is still functioning can be legally exported to developing countries in West Africa to South-east Asia, where there is a thriving trade in second-hand computers and electronic devices such as DVD players." So, the stated intent of the law is not to discourage re-use.

Now, as somebody who likes to fix things like broken iPods, I can see where there is value in broken goods. Sometimes you can get a new rechargeable battery for $7 and suddenly a "broken" device has $100 resale value. But if somebody imports a shipping-container full of junk, and 90% of it goes into a makeshift dump unprepared for heavy metals, the fact that they got a couple dozen working cellphones from it and managed to turn a profit does not make it OK. You can't really judge the guilt or innocence of individual cases on the basis of some one-sided blog posts.

I agree there are real problems if officials are lying or bad evidence is being used to prosecute people who haven't broken the law. But what about the law itself? Do you think it should simply be repealed wholesale, or how would you like to see it modified?

Re:Two Crimes Committed (1)

retroworks (652802) | more than 2 years ago | (#39092403)

"Well, prosecutions and seizures are a good thing if the people really were cut-rate recyclers using damaging, illegal reclamation processes, unapproved dumps, and/or child labor. This is an actual, documented problem.'

Yes. IF. Here is a slashdot article http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/12/02/12/1431208/its-not-all-waste-the-complicated-life-of-surplus-electronics-in-africa [slashdot.org] showing the actual documentation of the actual trade in Africa during the time the African in the Guardian article was accused of shipping to the unapproved dump with the child labor. Your "actual, documented problem" was not committed by the person arrested, and does not appear to be very actual, if you actually look at the documentation. Talk about high tech lynchings...

Re:Two Crimes Committed (1)

Alan R Light (1277886) | more than 2 years ago | (#39092829)

Got some mod points, tried to mod this up - accidentally hit "off topic". Hopefully posting in this thread will reverse it.

What kind of demented post is this? (3, Informative)

arcite (661011) | more than 2 years ago | (#39088823)

Perhaps this is how cellphones made their way initially, but the ICT revolution is built on sound business. There has been much investment from the Middle East and other telcom companies such as Vodafone. Cheap, low cost 'African' versions of phones are easily available for as little as $20. Cellphone services such as SMS, telephone banking, are revolutionizing hundreds of millions of lives. The great part is, this is still the beginning of the revolution, the next stage is to wire up everyone for highspeed internet, which is well underway, particularly in Kenya. I think, what you are really talking about is the shadow economy, or 'informal economy'. Laws are very flexible in many African nations, cargo containers full of all kinds of electronics make their way to the shores and docks of major African cities, e-waste included. However, most people would rather buy a store bought version if they can afford it, people like warranty after all. Indeed, there are thriving businesses for second hand cellphones, and even replacement parts and repair. Nothing goes to waste in Africa.

Re:Two Crimes Committed (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#39089967)

used cell phones were imported and hacked/jailbroken

If they're mostly imported from Europe, they shouldn't need to jailbreak them - especially non-smartphones, which seems to be the bulk of devices in Africa.

Re:Two Crimes Committed (1)

dunkelfalke (91624) | more than 2 years ago | (#39092601)

Locked phones do exist here. Especially dumbphones.

Re:Two Crimes Committed (1)

mikael (484) | more than 2 years ago | (#39090033)

I'm just waiting for someone to post a picture of a portaloo built from broken mobile phones ...

Re:Two Crimes Committed (1)

cybernanga (921667) | more than 2 years ago | (#39090509)

used cell phones were imported and hacked/jailbroken, which created enough subscribers for private sector companies to erect the towers

Doesn't seem to make sense, why would someone import and hack a cellphone into a country with no towers? There is no reason to spend time and resources doing this, if the phones won't work. A few individuals may have done this for their own purposes, but you would never have enough people carrying around useless cellphones, that a company would then say, "hey, let's build a tower/network"

N.B. As I was actually living in an African country when cellphones were introduced, I happen to know that it was private sector companies that built towers first, and the first phones were bloody expensive.

defecate on every nation's flag! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39088215)

Memorable quotes for
        Looker (1981)
        http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0082677/quotes [imdb.com] [imdb.com]

        âoeJohn Reston: Television can control public opinion more effectively than armies of secret police, because television is entirely voluntary. The American government forces our children to attend school, but nobody forces them to watch T.V. Americans of all ages *submit* to television. Television is the American ideal. Persuasion without coercion. Nobody makes us watch. Who could have predicted that a *free* people would voluntarily spend one fifth of their lives sitting in front of a *box* with pictures? Fifteen years sitting in prison is punishment. But 15 years sitting in front of a television set is entertainment. And the average American now spends more than one and a half years of his life just watching television commercials. Fifty minutes, every day of his life, watching commercials. Now, thatâ(TM)s power. â

        âoeThe United States has itâ(TM)s own propaganda, but itâ(TM)s very effective because people donâ(TM)t realize that itâ(TM)s propaganda. And itâ(TM)s subtle, but itâ(TM)s actually a much stronger propaganda machine than the Nazis had but itâ(TM)s funded in a different way. With the Nazis it was funded by the government, but in the United States, itâ(TM)s funded by corporations and corporations they only want things to happen that will make people want to buy stuff. So whatever that is, then that is considered okay and good, but that doesnâ(TM)t necessarily mean it really serves peopleâ(TM)s thinking â" it can stupify and make not very good things happen.â
        â" Crispin Glover: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000417/bio [imdb.com] [imdb.com]

        âoeWeâ(TM)ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.â â" William Casey, CIA Director

        âoeItâ(TM)s only logical to assume that conspiracies are everywhere, because thatâ(TM)s what people do. They conspire. If you canâ(TM)t get the message, get the man.â â" Mel Gibson

        [1967] Jim Garrison Interview âoeIn a very real and terrifying sense, our Government is the CIA and the Pentagon, with Congress reduced to a debating society. Of course, you canâ(TM)t spot this trend to fascism by casually looking around. You canâ(TM)t look for such familiar signs as the swastika, because they wonâ(TM)t be there. We wonâ(TM)t build Dachaus and Auschwitzes; the clever manipulation of the mass media is creating a concentration camp of the mind that promises to be far more effective in keeping the populace in line. Weâ(TM)re not going to wake up one morning and suddenly find ourselves in gray uniforms goose-stepping off to work. But this isnâ(TM)t the test. The test is: What happens to the individual who dissents? In Nazi Germany, he was physically destroyed; here, the process is more subtle, but the end results can be the same. Iâ(TM)ve learned enough about the machinations of the CIA in the past year to know that this is no longer the dreamworld America I once believed in. The imperatives of the population explosion, which almost inevitably will lessen our belief in the sanctity of the individual human life, combined with the awesome power of the CIA and the defense establishment, seem destined to seal the fate of the America I knew as a child and bring us into a new Orwellian world where the citizen exists for the state and where raw power justifies any and every immoral act. Iâ(TM)ve always had a kind of knee-jerk trust in my Governmentâ(TM)s basic integrity, whatever political blunders it may make. But Iâ(TM)ve come to realize that in Washington, deceiving and manipulating the public are viewed by some as the natural prerogatives of office. Huey Long once said, âoeFascism will come to America in the name of anti-fascism.â Iâ(TM)m afraid, based on my own experience, that fascism will come to America in the name of national security.â

Who's Fault? (4, Funny)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 2 years ago | (#39088235)

Oh please, people, these "burglars" are clearly "White Hat" and were simply penetration testing. Is it their fault the homestead was so easy to break into? The owner should be grateful and offer these Security Researchers a job watching their house.

I can relate (4, Funny)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#39088245)

Local residents, who subscribe to his tweets through a free text messaging service, jumped into action. They surrounded the house, sending the thugs fleeing into the night.

Yeah, whenever I've tried spending any time following someone on Twitter - I usually end up fleeing into the night as well.

You can only take so much rambling about being unable to pop a pimple or photos of what they've eaten...

Re:I can relate (2)

hitmark (640295) | more than 2 years ago | (#39088359)

Then find someone else to follow.

Still, it seems most of the tech heads are moving to G+...

Africans know the meaning of mob justice (1)

arcite (661011) | more than 2 years ago | (#39088837)

Those guys probably could have been lynched to make an example to other thieves. Mob justice is very effective in African villages where police presence is weak or non-existent.

Re:I can relate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39089545)

You can only take so much rambling about being unable to pop a pimple or photos of what they've eaten...

I can't stand scat or the people who are into that sort of thing either :)

This story brought to you by Twitter PR service (3, Interesting)

Little_Professor (971208) | more than 2 years ago | (#39088279)

Or rather, Tweetminster, who seem to be quite adept at planting PR stories in the news. Meanwhile on the ground - hardly anyone in Africa uses twitter. Those that have access to mobiles and/or the internet use MXit, despite what Tweetminster/Portland Communication's recycled press releases would have you believe

Actually (1)

arcite (661011) | more than 2 years ago | (#39088843)

There are more Twitter users in Kenya than Egypt (which is arguably a richer country). You'd be surprised.

Surprised the robbers got away (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39088381)

I'm guessing the chase scene looked like the New York City Marathon!

Communication in Africa, not just in Kenya (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39088405)

...text messages are a major form of communication in the nation."

After vacationing in South Africa two years ago I'd claim that mobile phones aren't just a major form of communication in Kenya, but in all of sub-Saharan Africa.

Rent a car, give them your mobile number; when you return it in you'll get a text confirming that they got it. Even if you handed the keys to someone in person and got a receipt, you'll still get a text. When you check out of your hotel you get a text. Etc., etc.

Pretty much anything you do, if you gave them your mobile number, you'll get a text of some kind. And South Africa is unquestionably pretty advanced compared to much of the rest of Africa.

CIA: How many pounds of coke can one spook snort? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39088411)

Memorable quotes for
        Looker (1981)
        http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0082677/quotes [imdb.com] [imdb.com]

        âoeJohn Reston: Television can control public opinion more effectively than armies of secret police, because television is entirely voluntary. The American government forces our children to attend school, but nobody forces them to watch T.V. Americans of all ages *submit* to television. Television is the American ideal. Persuasion without coercion. Nobody makes us watch. Who could have predicted that a *free* people would voluntarily spend one fifth of their lives sitting in front of a *box* with pictures? Fifteen years sitting in prison is punishment. But 15 years sitting in front of a television set is entertainment. And the average American now spends more than one and a half years of his life just watching television commercials. Fifty minutes, every day of his life, watching commercials. Now, thatâ(TM)s power. â

        âoeThe United States has itâ(TM)s own propaganda, but itâ(TM)s very effective because people donâ(TM)t realize that itâ(TM)s propaganda. And itâ(TM)s subtle, but itâ(TM)s actually a much stronger propaganda machine than the Nazis had but itâ(TM)s funded in a different way. With the Nazis it was funded by the government, but in the United States, itâ(TM)s funded by corporations and corporations they only want things to happen that will make people want to buy stuff. So whatever that is, then that is considered okay and good, but that doesnâ(TM)t necessarily mean it really serves peopleâ(TM)s thinking â" it can stupify and make not very good things happen.â
        â" Crispin Glover: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000417/bio [imdb.com] [imdb.com]

        âoeWeâ(TM)ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.â â" William Casey, CIA Director

        âoeItâ(TM)s only logical to assume that conspiracies are everywhere, because thatâ(TM)s what people do. They conspire. If you canâ(TM)t get the message, get the man.â â" Mel Gibson

        [1967] Jim Garrison Interview âoeIn a very real and terrifying sense, our Government is the CIA and the Pentagon, with Congress reduced to a debating society. Of course, you canâ(TM)t spot this trend to fascism by casually looking around. You canâ(TM)t look for such familiar signs as the swastika, because they wonâ(TM)t be there. We wonâ(TM)t build Dachaus and Auschwitzes; the clever manipulation of the mass media is creating a concentration camp of the mind that promises to be far more effective in keeping the populace in line. Weâ(TM)re not going to wake up one morning and suddenly find ourselves in gray uniforms goose-stepping off to work. But this isnâ(TM)t the test. The test is: What happens to the individual who dissents? In Nazi Germany, he was physically destroyed; here, the process is more subtle, but the end results can be the same. Iâ(TM)ve learned enough about the machinations of the CIA in the past year to know that this is no longer the dreamworld America I once believed in. The imperatives of the population explosion, which almost inevitably will lessen our belief in the sanctity of the individual human life, combined with the awesome power of the CIA and the defense establishment, seem destined to seal the fate of the America I knew as a child and bring us into a new Orwellian world where the citizen exists for the state and where raw power justifies any and every immoral act. Iâ(TM)ve always had a kind of knee-jerk trust in my Governmentâ(TM)s basic integrity, whatever political blunders it may make. But Iâ(TM)ve come to realize that in Washington, deceiving and manipulating the public are viewed by some as the natural prerogatives of office. Huey Long once said, âoeFascism will come to America in the name of anti-fascism.â Iâ(TM)m afraid, based on my own experience, that fascism will come to America in the name of national security.â

Altruistic flash mob (2)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#39088575)

It's a pity the cnn report doesn't make the connection between this occurrence and its normal reporting on flash mobs, which is basically that the initial flash mobs were fun and benign but were later used to orchestrate looting. Of course the technology doesn't know when it's helping to preserve or violate property law.

Re:Altruistic flash mob (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39092871)

After reading that link, I'd like to recommend you re-evaluate your online news sources. Something with that many typos is hard to find truthful.

Twitter might be good in some cases, (2)

RoLi (141856) | more than 2 years ago | (#39088665)

... but it might get you killed [in-other-news.com] in others.

"Useful twitter?" (1)

nicholas22 (1945330) | more than 2 years ago | (#39088731)

Sorry, but this is the most awful example I've heard of how Twiter can be a useful "service"... What's the moral of the story? She didn't have to send the text multiple times? Or that she didn't get billed for multiple texts? She could always call or text directly...

Are you dense? (3, Interesting)

arcite (661011) | more than 2 years ago | (#39088867)

In this community, the neighbors all subscribed to the same twitter feed, so they all got the emergency call at the same time, and responded in strength to confront the thieves and catch them in the act. Quite the effective neighborhood watch if you ask me. Strength in numbers.

Re:Are you dense? (1)

Zebai (979227) | more than 2 years ago | (#39089307)

Yes but if these thieves had a rifle it would of been a dead neighborhood watch.

Re:Are you dense? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39089361)

Nigger's only have spears.

Re:Are you dense? (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#39089985)

Why do you think the locals don't have rifles? This photo [wikipedia.org] is from Kenya...

Untold conclusion to story (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39088967)

I've lived in Kenyan. What this story leaves out that is when the community catches someone burgling a house they very often end up beating/hacking to death with a shovel the thief. I can assure you this did not end well for the thief.

Re:Untold conclusion to story (2)

oiron (697563) | more than 2 years ago | (#39089261)

In a state with inadequate law enforcement, this is kind of inevitable... Turning them over to the authorities would probably just mean a bribe and a quick release with hardly a slap on the wrist. I assume that this would be the state in rural Kenya.

Forgive me if I don't have too much sympathy, though. I'm sure that's part of the understood cost of doing (nocturnal) business in that place...

Dialog: (2)

wbr1 (2538558) | more than 2 years ago | (#39089179)

Thieves: "How'd you know we where the crooks?"

Community:"A little birdie told us."

Cell phones are computers... (3)

jklappenbach (824031) | more than 2 years ago | (#39089407)

I know the historical association is difficult to shake, but for billions of people on this planet, a cell phone will be their primary, and perhaps only computing resource. It's enough, however. With them, they can access the internet, send and receive text messages, and even in some classes of sub-smartphone devices, run applications. More than laptops, desktops, or any other computing factor, cell phones have lifted the standard of living for billions. With text messaging, literacy is promoted. With access to the internet, commerce, education, and knowledge of the world become available. Cell phones have changed the world, and IMHO, are one of the most powerful and transformative computing resources created to date.

Re:Cell phones are computers... (1)

Larryish (1215510) | more than 2 years ago | (#39092093)

"With text messaging, literacy is promoted."

?

OMG WTF

Two sides (1)

solarissmoke (2470320) | more than 2 years ago | (#39090071)

Sadly it was the same ability to send messages to large numbers of people in near real time that contributed to the carnage of the post-election violence [wikipedia.org] in 2008.
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