An IT Consultant in Pakistan tweeting about loud noises and a random helicopter unwittingly provided live coverage of the raid US Navy SEALs led on Osama Bin Laden’s that ended in Bin Laden’s death.
Sohaib Althar has become an unlikely folk hero since his tweets about this event were discovered. Overnight, he has gained 45000 followers and been added to over 300+ lists. He’s received calls and emails from all over the world to give his account of what happened in Abbottabad. Althar provided an invaluable insight on an international event just by using Twitter like 200 million users do every day.
Twitter truly proved last night and lived up to its intention as an information-sharing network. I remember when Twitter first began to spread past its early adopters into the mainstream, and several people asked me what the difference between Twitter and Facebook- the main one has proven to be Twitter positioning itself as sharing information rather than building connections between people. This, the Arizona shootings, and the Royal Wedding are just recent examples of events where Twitter users provided excellent news coverage as well as analysis and commentary. A service like Twitter would have been a game-changer on 9/11 and ten years later it has proven itself to be not only helpful in reaching out to new customers and crowdsourcing public opinions and monitoring brand awareness, but as a tool for breaking world news. By the time Obama finally held his press conference, Twitter users were already keenly aware that Bin Laden had been killed.
Twitter has found its special role in the spectrum of online news and social media, and it’s my prediction that it’s become so useful in so many ways that the service will be around for years to come.