From Unintentional Live-Blogging to Cyber-Celebration: Osama bin Laden’s Death and Social Media

On Sunday, the US news cycle was just wrapping up when White House reporters were called to return for a “homeland security” briefing by the President. Those close to the White House news machine claim, after the fact, that they guessed it was for the announcement of a high-level target acquisition rather than a security threat. Either way, the social web exploded with the news. Those who missed the 11 pm news conference would discover the news Monday morning. Here are some of highlights from the Internet coverage:

Situation Room Photo (the most-viewed image of all time on Flickr)
12.4 Million Tweets Per Hour
Newspapers See Spike in Sales and Print Additional Copies for Big Headline
Live Blogger @reallyvirtual
Google Maps Overview of Osama’s Digs
Foursquare Check-in Events
Crowds Celebrating at Ground Zero, Times Square
Tweet by Tweet Infographic
1,000,000% Google Search Increase

Our modern communication ecosystem, with information bombarding us at all times through various media, has exponentially increased the complexity of worldwide interaction. Osama bin Laden’s death ended up being unintentionally live-blogged by his neighbor, and hundreds of thousands of people learned about the event through social media when they awoke Monday morning. Those without TV watched videos of the celebrations and news coverage online, while others fired up their favorite news radio apps for special feeds about the event.

Methods of communicating and learning about world events are constantly changing. Posing new technical questions related to capacity, the influx of thousands of users suggests that social media is the new method of communication, not just another fad.

Author: John Carew


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