Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Tweeting Osama bin Laden’s Death Announcement

U.S. President Barack Obama announced late Sunday that Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces in Pakistan earlier in the day. But the news got out ahead of his public address.

This tweet may have been the first public (credible but unverified) word of Osama bin Laden’s death, from Keith Urbahn, the chief of staff for the former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

So I'm told by a reputable person they have killed Osama Bin Laden. Hot damn.
@keithurbahn
Keith Urbahn

Twitter’s role in getting the news out was quickly praised by (of course) tweeters.

I learned about Osama bin Laden's death from Twitter - not news sites, not cable or network TV. How about YOU?
@cyberjournalist
Jonathan Dube

News organizations were told that an Obama address was coming, and then began reporting on bin Laden’s death citing anonymous sources.

Brian Williams says some journalists received a three-word e-mail tonight that read, “Get to work.”
@brianstelter
Brian Stelter

While Obama’s speech focused on the core event and the significance of the occasion, more details began to emerge and spread.

Ed Henry on CNN: Obama had 5 security council meetings on Bin Laden. He gave the kill order while everyone was watching the royal wedding.
@acarvin
Andy Carvin

The jokes came quickly (calling for a “long-form death certificate” seemed to be the first reaction of far too many people):

Got Bin Laden AND interrupted Celebrity Apprentice? Win for Obama all around.
@jimmyfallon
jimmy fallon

Can we travel with big shampoo again??!
@lizzwinstead
Lizz Winstead

There were also many, many tweets about gratefulness for the military’s work, remembrance of the 9/11 attacks, and differing views on whether bin Laden’s death was a cause for celebration or grimness.

Update: Twitter said it recorded 4,000 tweets per second at the beginning and end of Obama’s speech. (The record is close to 7,000 at the stroke of New Year’s Day in Japan this year.)

You can also see the quick-updating stream of Facebook status messages mentioning Osama bin Laden here.