The killing of Osama bin Laden touched off a flurry of tweets by celebrities and regular people — and one man who inadvertently live-tweeted the whole thing.
News of the Al Qaeda head's death apparently first broke on Twitter with Donald Rumsfeld's chief of staff Keith Urbahn tweeting, "So I'm told by a reputable person they have killed Osama Bin Laden. Hot damn." The social networking site was soon abuzz with 4,000 tweets per second, close to the all-time record of 6,939 tweets per second during New Year's 2010 in Japan. Celebrities weighed in, with Jack Osbourne pointing out the killing's unintended consequences:
F**k yeah!!! They killed #Osama. F**k that mother f**ker! Hope he rots in hell. Due to all the excitement about OBL being killed one of my dogs s**t in her crate and the other p*ssed in his dog bowl.
Katy Perry was all over the place:
AMERICA F**K YEAH, HERE TO SAVE THE MOTHER F**KIN DAY YEAH! #necessaryusageoftheFbombday I believe in justice... but don't u think that an eye for an eye will make the whole world blind? ☹ #revolutioncomesthroughlove #worldpeace But in general (& then after this I'll go back to being an opinion less popstar) It is a GREAT day 4 America & I'm PROUD 2 b an American!
Lily Allen, meanwhile, reminded us to keep our priorities straight:
I know that Osama Bin Laden is dead, but if we could all stop for a minute to consider today's REAL news I'd very much appreciate it... It is my birthday.
One non-celeb, however, was close to the action. According to Forbes, an IT consultant named Sohaib Athar began tweeting about events in Abbottabad last night: "Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event)." He followed up with, "Go away helicopter - before I take out my giant swatter :-/" And then: "A huge window shaking bang here in Abbottabad Cantt. I hope its not the start of something nasty :-S"
Of course, it was the start of something historic, and now Athar is famous. His subsequent tweets address a flood of new followers (he's at nearly 26,000 as of this morning) and emails from media outlets and others. He kept up a sense of humor ("I just hope they don't find my giant helicopter swatter. Must hide it") but also appeared to become exhausted ("Ok, I give up. I can't read all the @ mentions so I'll stop trying."). The importance of Twitter has been hotly debated lately, but at this point, its power to turn ordinary people into newsmakers, at least for a moment, is undeniable. Athar is somewhat of a rarity, though, in that he seems uncomfortable with his instant fame. His most recent tweet: "Bin Laden is dead. I didn't kill him. Please let me sleep now."
Updated: Osama Bin Laden Death: Celebrity Reactions [Digital Spy]
Online Revelry At Osama Bin Laden's Death [PhysOrg]
Man Inadvertently Live Tweets Osama Bin Laden Raid [Forbes Disruptors Blog]