Social media played role in communication of Bin Laden's death

By Stefanie Bainum

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- The news of Osama Bin Laden's death traveled fast. One major reason -- social media.

The attack on Bin Laden's compound was swift, and it was sudden. Just as fast, news spread of Osama Bin Laden's death mostly in part to social media.

"I was studying for a final last night in the library in the study room and I got a text from my friend who told me that Facebook was lighting up because Bin Laden had been killed and everyone was posting it as their status," said College of Charleston freshmen, Emilie Grodman.

"I was flooded with status updates on Facebook and Twitter about what had happened. It was an interesting process to see it play out via social media," said Maggie Lydecker, a senior at College of Charleston.

Students at the college were in their early teens when Bin Laden ordered the 9/11 attacks. Ten years ago, social media was nearly non-existent, but today social media helps break the news.

"Everyone I talked to so far said they found out first through their cell phone and then turned on the TV," said Alan Adelman, a sophomore at College of Charleston.

A Pakistani man was even tweeting about the raid in real time. Not knowing who was in the compound or that navy seals were involved, the man reported seeing a helicopter and hearing a loud explosion.

"I think that this event pretty much seals the importance of Twitter," said communication Professor, Dr. Doug Ferguson of College of Charleston. "I think that it's not just a fad, it is here and the use generated features of it are here to stay."

Twitter reported 2.2 million tweets within hours of the Bin Laden news breaking and a record average of 3,000 tweets per second during President Obama's speech.

"I think it's become a viable news source especially with people my age," said Lydecker.

"It really got the word out there faster," added Adelman.