No Internet? No problem! SMS your way back to the Web

sms hurricane sandyAn estimated 7.5 million people on the East Coast are now without power thanks to the effects of Hurricane Sandy, and many more are experiencing intermittent access to electricity and the Internet. If you’re one of these unlucky souls (for the record, we hope you’re staying safe), you don’t have to go totally Web-deprived until who-knows-when. All you need is a phone and a texting plan to get access to some of your favorite websites, as well as stay connected with friends and family.

Hopefully you can read this before your power goes out again.


activating usernameTwitter has an incredibly thorough guide on how to use its service via SMS. From the beginning, the site was created to be accessed via mobile phones – any and all mobile phones. You can check out Twitter’s step-by-step guide here, but for the sake of brevity, here’s the condensed version (for U.S. users only).

If you don’t yet have an account:

  1. Text “START” to 40404 and then reply to the message from Twitter with your full name.
  2. You’ll then get a message from Twitter to create a username (less than or equal to 15 characters, no spaces, no special caracters). That’s it — now you can post to Twitter via text.

If you already have an account:

  1. Text “START” to 40404; text “YES” to the resulting message.
  2. Reply with your username (without the @ symbol – send your name only, for example: iammollymchugh).
  3. Then you’ll have to text your password. It is case sensitive. Now you’re set and can start posting to Twitter via SMS by sending 140 character max posts to that same 40404 number.
    sms to twitter 

If you only want to receive relevant updates, you can use Twitter’s Fast Follow service:

  1. First, you’ll need to make a list of accounts you want to receive information from. If you’re doing this for Hurricane Sandy purposes, here are a helpful handful: @usNWSgov@MattNoyesNECN@JimDuncanNBC12@RedCross@weatherchannel@fema@breakingstorm.  Also, if you want to get updates from friends or family you’re concerned about, include them.
  2. After that, send the message “Follow [insert username here]” to 40404. Now you’ll get SMS messages of posts from the users your selected. There is a daily limit here, and you’ll be prompted to create an account via SMS if you hit it – in that case, see above.


In order to sign up to use Facebook via text, you do need to log into your account and change your settings – so obviously, if you’re already without the Internet, this is all moot. Of course that means you aren’t reading this anyway, so we’ll continue.

  1. Login to Facebook and under Account Settings, choose Mobile from the left-hand side of the screen. Add your number and hit Activate Text Messaging. You’ll be prompted to send the letter “F” to 32665.
    confirm number facebook
  2. You’ll get a confirmation number you need to enter into the Activate box online – and make sure you check the “Allow friends to text me from Facebook” box if you want to receive updates. Now your number is confirmed and you can receive posts and update your own by texting content to that 32665 number. There are some other options in the drop down menu for what you receive from Facebook via text.
    options facebook texts 
  3. If you want to get specific – and aren’t worried about losing your connection mid-settings alteration – you can enter the names of people you want to get text updates from.
    who can send messages via facebook text
  4. You’re all set. You can turn this off by texting “stop” to 32665.


While there isn’t an SMS option for using Tumblr, all users do have an email address they can used to post text, photos, MP3s, or videos from.

  1. Under your settings, hit the last hub that shows your blog’s name and scroll down to “Post by Email.”
    tumblr settings 
  2. There, you’ll see a custom address you can use to post from.
    email tumblr 

You can also post content by dialing 1-866-584-6757 to leave audio messages to your Tumblr.

google search smsGoogle Search

Using Google search via SMS is incredibly easy. Simply text your query to 466453 and you’ll receive results back via text.

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