News of Osama Bin Laden's death did not come from a major new outlet, it spread virally around the world through a tweet. Late Sunday afternoon, May 1st, the news started with a tweet from Sohaib Athar under the Twitter name of @reallyvirtual. Athar, a 33 year old information technology professional located several miles from the Pakistani compound where Bin Laden resided, first tweeted about the loud helicopter noise. His updates went on to tell the story as the raid unfolded.
Then former White House staffer Keith Urbahn tweeted the news in a message that said, "So I am told by a reputable person they have killed Osama Bin Laden...." The White House did not get on Twitter to confirm the news that President Obama would be speaking until later that evening. CBS News reports a tweet from Twitter's global public relations noting, "Twitter reached more than 4,000 Tweets per second at the beginning and end of President Obama's speech."
Yet another example of Social Media's involvement in the global storytelling of events, and a major change in the way we get our news. Ironically, the terrorist event led by Bin Laden that made him a wanted man, pre-dated the existence of Twitter. When hijacked airplanes piloted by Al Qaeda members crashed into the twin towers, Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania nearly 10 years ago, most of us watched the events unfold on television. Now, when the mastermind of that terrorist plot is captured, the news spread around the world through social media.
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