This rather ameba-looking graphic, showing how the news of Osama bin Laden’s death broke and then spread on Twitter, is a graphic reminder of how the news cycle works today. It’s also a reminder of Twitter’s ability to deliver news in bite-size nuggets.
What is most telling in this graph is that the Web of human traffic came from one single tweet from Keith Urbahn, chief of staff at the office of Donald Rumsfeld.
An hour before the formal announcement of bin Laden’s death, Urbahn posted his speculation on the topic of the upcoming emergency presidential address. Little did he know that this tweet would trigger an avalanche of reactions, retweets, and conversations that would beat mainstream media and the White House announcement.
This is the reality of crisis management in the digital age.
Twitter is the new police scanner. It is a barometer for fascination, education, and obsession. But most of all, tweets happen in real time, so in a crisis, raw emotion is as frequent as real news. Twitter information will always be someone’s perception of what they witnessed, what they have seen, what they have experienced.
It is the voice of the people.
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