Osama Bin Laden – The Social Networking Story

Originally posted on General Musings of an Idiot.

But it goes to show how much our world has changed in such a short space of time. Gone are the days of waiting for the next day’s newspapers to gain some decent insight into the events of yesterday. Now we live in a world where news is instant; where we have access to videos, news, pictures, audio, inside views, and those in the know at our fingertips.

As someone who wants to be a journalist, I Tweet, I’m on Facebook and LinkedIn, I have subscriptions for all sorts of newspapers on my phone, I run my own blogs, I correspond with some of the best in the business, and I try and keep on top of what goes on day in, day out. Having met several journalists over the last 12 months, I always ask the same question – ‘How useful a tool is social networking?’

The answer is always ‘the most valuable available’.

As proven today. The story of Sohaib Athar hit the world’s media in the early hours of this morning. Through his Twitter account, @reallyvirtual, he unknowingly gave us an account of the events unfolding in Abbottabad, where Bin Laden was shot and killed. Since, he’s been giving interviews into what he saw and heard, and why he chose to Tweet it. Even Reuters wanted to speak to him.


We have, of course, seen Twitter’s potential before. The graph below was published on Think-Through, and shows the events of the 2011 SuperBowl, in comparison to Tweets per second. We also saw Twitter crash in 2009 upon the news that Michael Jackson had died – something that was near enough confirmed before we even had it announced.


Egypt’s revolution was nicknamed the ‘Twitter Revolution’, due to the information being sent onto the internet by those people right in the depths of it all. YouTube videos were used around the globe to show the actions, Tweets were used to compile news reports, Facebook updates were used to find photos for newspaper articles. It was something that will define social networking in the future.

But what about the internet as a whole? The BBC‘s Top 10 most read articles this morning involved nine about Osama. The whole top half of Sky News‘ website is dedicated to the coverage of Bin Laden’s death. The New York Post began their main coverage with ‘We finally got the miserable son of a bitch!‘ Today the internet feels as if justice really has been served.


There are also some great articles and blog posts sprouting up about how today has been covered through the use of social media. The BBC have an article about Athar and his live feed of the events, and there’s also a brilliant article from Lauren Young, of Reuters, about how Twitter broke the news of Bin Laden’s death. Both definitely worth a read if you have the time.

In a weekend dominated by the Royal Wedding – which in itself created social networking history, we now witness events that will help change society forever. As some are predicting on Twitter, this is not the end of the War on Terror, but merely the start. High alerts are about to appear in every country, whilst the majority are already preparing themselves for some form of retaliation from Al-Qaeda.

Social networking, and the internet as a whole, is showing us how we can use it in the future through days like today. In the future, the likes of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn will all be used to create a world where there is no longer a complete reliance on news corporations to deliver the events that are unfolding, but on the millions of individuals using these sites – their Tweets, Facebook photos, LinkedIn updates and connections, Flickr photos, blog posts, forum updates, and comments on news articles will all shape how news is portrayed. We’re already well on the way to seeing what life will be like when that is the case.

Agree with me? Want to share your views? You can Tweet me – I’m @Adam9309 – or drop me an email by clicking here.


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