Breaking News on Social Media

May 6, 2011
Osama bin Laden (Courtesy The Associated Press)

Osama bin Laden (Courtesy The Associated Press)

Breaking News on Social Media

Social networking is apparently becoming the preferred way to break news.

Soon after President Barack Obama told the world that the United States had killed Osama bin Laden, the Newseum asked on its Facebook page:

“How did you hear the news that Osama bin Laden had been killed?”

Of the 140 responses, social media had a slight edge over people who heard the news through other means.

  • 36 percent from Facebook and Twitter
  • 31 percent from television/radio
  • 17 percent from text messages/cellphones
  • 15 percent from others

The comments were just as varied.

  • “Twitter. All over Twitter. Way before elsewhere.”
  • “I was surprised to see a friend’s post on Facebook.”
  • “News alert to cellphone about 4 a.m.”
  • “In my car, listening to WTOP all-news radio.”

A man in Abbottabad, Pakistan, unknowingly told the world about the clandestine raid on bin Laden’s compound through a tweet. Rumors of his death were also spread on Twitter.

The al-Qaida leader’s death, and the rapid way the news was spread, will be one of many news events featured in the Newseum’s newest interactive gallery — the HP New Media Gallery — which opens in 2012.

The HP New Media Gallery will show how technology has drastically changed the collection and dissemination of news. Included will be touch-screen walls that will allow visitors to see the news in real time and interact with newsfeeds.


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