A site created by Polish programmers allows you to send a text message or WhatsApp chat to a random phone number in Russia, allowing you to open an exchange with someone in the country. Thanks to Putin’s shutdown of most social media and news outlets, this is one of the few methods available to reach someone who might be laboring under Russian propaganda.

You can visit the site here and send a pre-set message. The system will then send a text from your WhatsApp or cellphone. If your target wants to interact – something that I’ve found rare – they can easily reply to your message.

One of the messages, translated, is a simple question: “Hello, my Russian friend, We are not familiar, but I decided to write to you. I have heard that the situation in Russia has begun to deteriorate due to the reaction to the brutal Russian invasion of Ukraine. How are you?”

Given the effect of propaganda on the human brain, I doubt armchair diplomacy of this sort will do much to change anyone’s mind. But, given all the other options, it’s calming to know that we can reach out and speak to a real person, even at random.

By John Biggs

John Biggs is an entrepreneur, consultant, writer, and maker. He spent fifteen years as an editor for Gizmodo, CrunchGear, and TechCrunch and has a deep background in hardware startups, 3D printing, and blockchain. His work has appeared in Men’s Health, Wired, and the New York Times.

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