Breaking News: The Tweet that started it all

As soon as I heard that President Obama was going to address the nation about a mysterious topic, I sat up in my chair. “That’s weird,” I thought.  The news anchors seemed as befuddled as the rest of the nation. Usually we at least know the topic.  I popped up my Twitter app and squinted into my phone.

Osama bin Laden is dead!

I was stunned. Yet dozens, then hundreds of people were tweeting this. The media, still scratching their heads, still hadn’t heard. Twitter had scooped them!

Twitter hashtags were established, from #obl and #binladen to the intriguing #dingdongthewitchisdead.

Today, we know that the news was first leaked on Twitter by Keith Urbahn, the former chief of staff for Donald Rumsfeld, the defense secretary under President George W Bush:

Shortly after the Twitosphere exploded, CNN, Fox News and local pundits began reporting what they had heard—on Twitter.

Over on Facebook, the world weighed in as they waited for the official White House announcement. Some were celebrating; others wondered what would happen next…and of course, the jokes.

Many were wondering why they knew about this nearly an hour before the White House announced it. But we know protocol had to be followed, and phonecalls had to be made. I posted, “At this point #Obama should just tell everyone to join the new site called “Twitter” and follow the #binladen hashtag for breaking updates.”

Apparently, the world was already talking. In the late hours of May 1, 2011, Twitter produced more activity and interest than even the Royal Wedding, just two days earlier.

How did you engage in the social media conversation?

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