Monday, May 2, 2011

Osama Takedown Sets Twitter Record

As if a service with hundreds of millions of users needed to come of age, Twitter is said to have had its CNN moment Sunday night as the “place” where the news of the commando raid which killed Osama bin Laden was first shared.
From a Blackberry, no less.
Prior to that, Twitterers quickly spread the news about Obama’s hastily announced speech, long before one could find confirmation on Google News. And there was even a real-time account of what was going on in the neighborhood by an unsuspecting witness who complained of helicopter noise. All of this happened long before before President Obama made it official, and as news presenters on TV ran out of things to say.
Twitter didn’t weigh in with a statement or a blog post about the milestone reached Sunday night. Instead, it
tweeted some staggering numbers. It also provided a nifty graphic which showed that Tweeting peaked at 11 p.m. EDT, just as Americans would be tuning in to the late local news for the first time.
A record for tweets per second was not set — that is still NYE 2010 in Japan. It took four tweets — pesky 140-character limit — but the message was clear:
“Last night saw the highest sustained rate of Tweets ever. From 10:45 – 2:20am ET, there was an average of 3,000 Tweets per second [1/3]”
“At 11p.m. ET, there were 5,106 Tweets per second. At 11:45p.m. ET, when Pres. Obama finished his remarks, there were 5,008 TPS [2/3]”
“Note: The TPS numbers we reported last night were incomplete [3/3]”
An even more precise update: Twitter averaged 3440 TPS from 10:45 to 12:30pm ET last night”
Many of us will remember not only where we were when we heard the news, but how. I got the word in a Skype text — from my daughter a floor above me at home. Sure, I flipped on the TV right away, but like tens of millions of others, I whiled away the time before Obama spoke staring at my smartphone to catch up on the known details — and the Trump jokes — on Twitter.
But it’s clear that these days, if you want your news and commentary at the speed at which birds of a feather communicate, Twitter is the place to be.

where were you when Osama was killed - and how did you hear?

NEW YORK – A soldier in Afghanistan learned about the death of Osama bin Laden on Facebook. A TV producer in South Carolina got a tip from comedian Kathy Griffin on Twitter. A blues musician in Denver received an email alert from The New York Times. And a Kansas woman found out as she absently scrolled through the Internet on her smartphone while walking her dog.
In an illustration of how the information world has changed, many people learned through media formats or devices that weren't available a decade ago that the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks had been killed.
"It just kind of spread like wildfire online," said Stephen Vujevich, a student at Immaculata University in Pennsylvania. "It's amazing to see how social media played a part in it."
Vujevich was at his girlfriend's house and both were on their laptops, when she said that many of her friends had updated their Facebook status to note bin Laden's death in Pakistan. He went to Google News to find out that President Barack Obama had scheduled an address to the nation. He searched other sites to get news and credited Twitter with giving him the most immediate information.
Jaime Aguilar, a Denver musician, was at a friend's house watching HBO when he saw the news alert on his smartphone.
A soldier who identified himself only as Carlos from Queens called New York sports radio station WFAN Monday to note that he and his buddies in Afghanistan learned the news not from commanding officers, but from Facebook. Angie Scharnhorst of Overland Park, Kan., had an early morning plane flight and if she wasn't carrying her smartphone while walking her dog Ruby at 2 a.m. CDT, said she probably wouldn't have heard the news until later in the day Monday.
Ashlee Edwards, a content producer for the CBS affiliate WBTW-TV in Myrtle Beach, S.C., was watching "The Tudors" with a friend when she saw Griffin's tweet urging her to "turn on CNN now" because the president was about to make an announcement.
It was before 10 p.m. EDT Sunday that many Washington-based reporters were told to get to work because the president would speak. They were not told why.
At 10:25, Keith Urbahn, the chief of staff for former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld tweeted: "So I'm told by a reputable person that they have killed Osama bin Laden. Hot damn."
The word spread quickly, even as Urbahn subsequently tweeted that he "didn't know if it's true, but let's pray it is."
Mainstream news organizations began reporting that bin Laden was dead about 15 or 20 minutes later. Some, such as CNN and NBC, were tentative at first. Others, including ABC, were more definitive. Fox News Channel was joyful.
"This is the greatest night of my career," said Fox's Geraldo Rivera. "The bum is dead, the savage who hurt us so grievously. I am so blessed, so privileged to be at my desk at this moment."
The speed of social media struck some as an epochal moment in news coverage. "If anyone isn't a believer in Twitter as an amazingly powerful news vehicle, last night should convert you," tweeted Chris Cillizza of the political website The Fix.
Twitter said that it saw its highest sustained rate of tweets. There was an average of 3,440 tweets-per-second from 10:45 p.m. - 12:30 a.m. EST, according to the site. At 11 p.m. EST, there were 5,106 tweets-per-second