Watches & Warnings Warnings

Social media breaks news of Osama's death

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011 - 5:49pm

Back in 1963, American families heard their President John F. Kennedy was dead as they gathered in front of the television.

But the news that Osama Bin Laden was killed first broke on Twitter driving people to television to watch.  Seven hours before the President's announcement, one man tweeted while the commando raid was going on near his house in Pakistan.  He writes "A helicopter hovering above Abbatobad at 1 am (this is a rare event.)"

He continued to update his Twitter followers with "Go away helicopter before I take out my giant swatter," and  "A huge window shaking bang here in Abbatobad. I hope it's not the start of something nasty."  This man didn't know the extent of what he was reporting.

At 9:45 p.m. Sunday, the White House Communications Director tweeted this: 'The President of the United States to address the nation tonight at 10:30 p.m. Eastern Time."

Just like that, an information wildfire spread through Facebook, Twitter, and other social websites.  All this while President Obama was still writing his speech.

In an online poll asking where people first saw the news about Bin Laden, 30 percent from Twitter, 20 percent say Facebook, 17 percent say television, and 12% say a phone call or text.

But wherever people first heard, most say they still turned on the television for the official announcement from the President.

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