The demonstrators downloaded the app in fear of the government turning off cell or Wi-Fi access, as was the case during recent political unrest in Iraq. The Fire Chat app, made by startup company Open Garden in San Francisco, first gained popularity when over 500,000 people downloaded the app during the Hong Kong demonstrations last year.
The data sent through to these data towers or Wi-Fi hotspots are then relayed through a centralized network and eventually the messages or data is received.
During all of this data transfer period, your VPN is tracked.
Though you can use a VPN service to protect your mobile data, information about your network can be tracked.
Users during SXSW used this feature to discuss with thousands of users to find the most popular show and location, for example.
Micha Benoliel, co-founder and CEO of Open Garden has been quite fascinated with Firechat’s usage.
Traditionally, users sent messages to each other through data or Wi-Fi networks.
The messages are sent through a mobile network to a hotspot or cell phone tower.
When Facebook blocked a page promoting a protest in Russia, Fire Chat was again downloaded.
Even more, thousands of people downloaded Fire Chat during the SXSW event in Austin, Texas.