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May 03, 2011

As Bin Laden News Spread Sunday, Twitter Hit Record High

By Tammy Wolf, TMCnet Web Editor

Late Sunday night, the U.S. got word that the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks, Osama Bin Laden, had been killed by troops. But for many around the world, Twitter, rather than televised news reports, delivered to them the news of bin Laden’s death. This should come as no surprise, as the social networking site hit a new record high of tweets even before President Barack Obama took to the White House podium to confirm that bin Laden had indeed been killed. 

According to, Twitter saw an average of 3,000 tweets per second from 10:45 p.m. – when the news started to spread – to 2:20 a.m. ET. The microblogging site peaked at 5,106 tweets per second at 11 p.m., (shortly after Obama took the spotlight), and at 11:45 p.m., when Obama concluded his speech, with 5,008 tweets per second.

By 12:25 p.m. ET on Monday, eight of the 10 trending topics on Twitter were linked to bin Laden’s death and were either spreading the word, celebrating and even questioning the May 1 events.

As reported by TMCnet, a “live blog” of the military operation was reported unintentionally by an IT consultant in Abottabad, the town where bin Laden was reportedly living. The exposure was found on Twitter, with the consultant not realizing the importance of his actions until much later. 

The consultant, Sohaib Athar, using the ID @ReallyVirtual on Twitter, shared: “Helicopter hovering above Abottabad at 1AM (is a rare event)”. Shortly after this post, he followed with, “A huge window shaking bang here in Abottabad Cantt. I hope it’s not the start of something nasty: -S.”

As of Tuesday morning, Athar’s Twitter followers exceeded 94,000.

The flooding of links, news and celebratory comments is just one example of how Twitter, and its social networking counterpart Facebook (News - Alert), have become a priority in the world of communications. Be it the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan, or Friday’s Royal Wedding, people are increasingly turning to these sites to spread news much that produces a result most similar to a domino effect.

According to a poll of 18,485 people participants, 55 percent were informed of bin Laden’s death from a social media source: 33 percent from Twitter, 20 percent from Facebook and 2 percent from instant messaging.

“Facebook and Twitter are rapidly becoming the de facto standard for communications,” said Zeus Kerravala, a Yankee Group (News - Alert) analyst. “It's like communication 'crack.' Once you start, there's no going back.”

Some of the tweets written included:

@andersoncooper: Ed henry of cnn reporting osama killed in mansion outside islamabad. Wow, if true that is stunning, and Pakistan has some explaining to do@Brian_GriffinFG: BREAKING NEWS: Donald Trump demands Osama Bin Laden's death certificate.

@clairecmc: A very bad chapter of world history closes tonight. Finally. Justice. Thank you to all of our intelligence personnel and our military.

And, it seems @UniverseofBiebs had it right:


Tammy Wolf is a TMCnet web editor. She covers a wide range of topics, including IP communications and information technology. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

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