The news of the death of Osama Bin Laden created unprecedented waves throughout the world. The media frenzy, for indeed that was what it was, was unmatched. So much so that, the Royal wedding disappeared into a tame memory from last week.
What should be noted, though, is the fact that social media more than one-upped traditional media in the breaking news and coverage of the death of Bin Laden. Even before Donald Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice was interrupted for an announcement by the President of the United States, a Twitter user living in the town of Abottabad had tweeted this:
Little did he know that he was reporting live on the Navy Seals attack on Osama bin Laden. The rest of his tweets read like a running commentary of the entire operation. View his tweets here.
People watching television only knew that the President had an important announcement. When no direct statements were immediately forthcoming, these same people turned to the social media, where many were already speculating that the notorious terrorist had been killed by the US army. Keith Urbahn, chief of staff for the former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, wrote this:
… but, as they say, the truth was already out there! Brian Solis goes so far as to say, “News no longer breaks, it Tweets.”
Almost immediately, the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death went viral on social media. It quickly spurned twitter pages like @OsamaInHell and @GhostOsama, along with a trending hashtag #Osama. Another trending topic on Twitter was “Mission Accomplished.”
Soon, Twitter hit the record for the highest number of sustained tweets per second, with 5,106 per second on May 1. It reduced only slightly, following President Obama’s formal announcement.
Rapidly news of the killing of Bin Laden played out on Twitter, with the President’s update on his twitter feed making it all official.
Facebook, not one to be left out, sprouted many Osama pages, with the most popular one being “Osama Is DEAD” which, at the time of writing this article, has amassed 478,272 likes!
On YouTube, the message spread like wildfire, where the video of President Obama’s announcement currently leads with 2,810,562 views. Close on its heels is a video uploaded by CBSNews.com, which has 1,075,618 views at present. According to YouTube Trends, videos of patriotic songs like Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue also saw a sudden spurt viewership.
Traditional Media tried its best to keep up, with NY Times even ‘ripping up’ its front page on Monday morning in order to announce the death of Bin Laden. Once they had caught up, the front pages of newspapers made for some impressive reading! Moreover, Monday turned out to be a day for huge sales in newspapers, proving that people still held a soft spot for print media. Still, what with television stalling till President Obama actually made his announcement, and then going on to commit some unforgettable gaffes in the”Osama” and “Obama” mix-up, it would be safe to say that social media had been the place to go for news on the death of Osama Bin Laden.
Driving home the point is an online poll conducted by Mashable that proves unequivocally that traditional media has indeed been ‘scooped’ by social media!