US$9.95, or the cost of two Big Macs.

I bought a $10 phone a few months. Why? I was writing #TwittterBook, an ebook about Twitter (you can get it at Amazon).

It turns out Black big-city teens are among the biggest users of Twitter. They’ve led millions of other teens onto Twitter. And what about people in India and Africa? Tens of millions are using Twitter. I doubt they use Samsung Galaxy phones. So how are they were using Twitter?

I talked with several people, but nobody knew for sure how this worked, or if it even worked. I found you can get a $10 phone at any US drugstore chain or supermarket. Disposable. Just use it and throw it away. So I bought one.

The TracFone comes with a wall recharger, car charger, headset, and ten minutes of talk time. You can buy more minutes. It was already charged. Insert battery, snap on the back, enter authorization code: it works. I entered my zip code and a Palo Alto phone number was assigned to it.

If you want one, call ahead and make sure these are on the shelves. The clerk apologized that I had to get a $10 phone; the $5 phones were all sold out. Really? There are $5 cell phones?

I went to my cat’s Twitter account, added the phone to his account, and verified the confirmation code. My cat then opened my Twitter account and selected mobile updates to set my tweets to show up on his phone. From my account, I sent a hello tweet. Bingo!

It gets interesting. Let’s say an Egyptian sees what the government is doing, but the government has shut down the web so others can’t see. With his $10 phone, which he could perhaps buy second-hand for a few dollars, he can sent a tweet to several phone numbers. To post to Twitter (but you can’t receive), send a tweet to:

  • UK : +447624800379
  • GERMANY: +491724403473
  • FINLAND : +3584573950042

The tweet will be posted worldwide. Include the relevant #hashtags so others can find it. Look for a tweet with #Finland #TwitterBook. It was posted via the Finland station. We’ll keep the phone. Friends visit from Europe and China, so it’ll be a guest phone for them to use while they’re here.