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Osama Bin Laden Is Dead: Here's How Twitter Broke the News Live

Chap liveblogs historic event without even knowing

Paul Lamkin

Twitter is increasingly becoming the place where historic events and the news agenda are set.

In the past we've had the Hudson River plane crash story being broken on the micro-blogging platform, the uprising in Egypt fuelled by tweeting and communication in Japan following the recent earthquake being aided by the service too.

The latest significant news story to be broken (sort of) was the death of Osama Bin Laden. The events surrounding Bin Laden's death were live tweeted by several users - most notably by Sohaib Athar (@ReallyVirtual) of Abbottabad, Pakistan who live tweeted the event as it happened - albeit without any knowledge of exactly what was going on.

Athar, "An IT consultant taking a break from the rat-race by hiding in the mountains with his laptops" first tweeted about unusual events in his village at 7.58pm on 1 May.

He said: "Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event)."

This was followed by a number of tweets that seem to detail the US operation. Here's the full timeline:

"Go away helicopter - before I take out my giant swatter :-/" (May 01, 2011, 8:05 PM)

"A huge window shaking bang here in Abbottabad Cantt. I hope its not the start of something nasty :-S" (May 01, 2011, 8:09 PM)

"@m0hcin all silent after the blast, but a friend heard it 6 km away too... the helicopter is gone too." (May 01, 2011, 8:44 PM)

"@m0hcin seems like my giant swatter worked!" (May 01, 2011, 8:46 PM)

"@m0hcin the few people online at this time of the night are saying one of the copters was not Pakistani..." (May 01, 2011, 8:48 PM)

"RT @han3yy: OMG :S Bomb Blasts in Abbottabad.. I hope everyone is fine :(" (May 01, 2011, 8:50 PM)

"Since taliban (probably) don't have helicopters, and since they're saying it was not "ours", so must be a complicated situation #abbottabad" (May 01, 2011, 9:02 PM)

"The abbottabad helicopter/UFO was shot down near the Bilal Town area, and there's report of a flash. People saying it could be a drone." (May 01, 2011, 9:10 PM)

"@wqs figures, if they have the right to shoot planes flying over the president house, the must have the same instructions for PMA" (May 01, 2011, 9:14 PM

"@smedica people are saying it was not a technical fault and it was shot down. I heard it CIRCLE 3-4 times above, sounded purposeful." (May 01, 2011, 9:15 PM)

"@tahirakram very likely - but it was too noisy to be a spy craft, or, a very poor spy craft it was." (May 01, 2011, 9:16 PM)

"Here's the location of the Abbottabad crash according to some people >>>" (May 01, 2011, 9:34 PM)

"Two helicpoters, one down, could actually be the training accident scenario they're saying it was >>" (May 01, 2011, 9:43 PM)

"and now I feel I must apologize to the pilot about the swatter tweets :-/" (May 01, 2011, 10:05 PM)

"And now, a plane flying over Abbottabad..." (May 01, 2011, 10:39 PM)

"Interesting rumors in the otherwise uneventful Abbottabad air today" (May 02, 2011, 3:00 AM)

"Report from a taxi driver: The army has cordoned off the crash area and is conducting door-to-door search in the surrounding." (May 02, 2011, 3:02 AM)

"@kursed What really happened doesn't matter if there is an official story behind it that 99.999% of the world would believe" (May 02, 2011, 3:08 AM)

"@kursed Another rumor: two copters that followed the crashed one were foreign Cobras - and got away" (May 02, 2011, 3:10 AM)

"Report from a sweeper: A family also died in the crash, and one of the helicopter riders got away and is now being searched for." (May 02, 2011, 3:21 AM)

"@kursed Well, there were at least two copters last night, I heard one but a friend heard two, for 15-20 minutes." (May 02, 2011, 3:24 AM)

"@kursed I think I should take out my big blower to blow the fog of war away and see the clearer picture." (May 02, 2011, 3:24 AM)

"RT @ISuckBigTime: Osama Bin Laden killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan.: ISI has confirmed it << Uh oh, there goes the neighborhood :-/" (May 02, 2011, 3:31 AM)

"I need to sleep, but Osama had to pick this day to die :-/" (May 02, 2011, 4:03 AM)

"Uh oh, now I'm the guy who liveblogged the Osama raid without knowing it." (May 02, 2011, 4:41 AM)

"and here come the mails from the mainstream media... *sigh*" (May 02, 2011, 4:42 AM)

Athar has now seen his Twitter followers rise to 7,487.   

Meanwhile, Google has "celebrated" the news of Bin Laden's death by pinpointing the exact spot on Google Maps. It hasn't managed to get the Street View car down there yet though.

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