Thursday, 5 May 2011

Osama Bin Laden Dead: How Twitter Got There First

The first credible source that Bin Laden had been killed was from Keith Urbahn, the former Defense Secretary’s chief of staff, who tweeted around 10:25 pm US Eastern Time that he’d been “told by a reputable person they have killed Osama Bin Laden” before US President Barack Obama had made the official presidential announcement.

The actual raid by US forces was unwittingly witnessed by an IT consultant living in Abbottabad, who unknowingly tweeted details of the US-led operation as it happened.

He wrote: "Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event)."

Soon after, he reported the sound of an explosion, now known to have been US forces blowing up their damaged helicopter.

"A huge window shaking bang here in Abbottabad Cantt. I hope its not the start of something nasty :-S"

Already this is being described as another huge day for the micro-blogging service.

"Twitter just had its CNN moment", as one American website put it, comparing this event with the first Gulf War, where millions suddenly woke up to the fact that cable news was the place to observe a war unfold in real-time.

Such is the power of this network that it has become the key resource for older media trying to stay ahead of events.

A journalist who does not use Twitter is now like one who abjures the mobile phone.

Ian Tomlinson Update

Criminal proceedings open against the policeman (Pc Simon Harwood) who hit Tomlinson with a baton. Jurors ruled he acted illegally, recklessly and dangerously in shoving Ian Tomlinson to the ground. An inquest jury returned a verdict of unlawful killing, ruling that Harwood had used excessive and unreasonable force in hitting Tomlinson.