San Francisco-based Twitter is getting a bunch of credit for helping leak the huge of news of last night. Without Twitter, many news sources might not have gotten the pre-White House announcement heads up about the news of Osama bin Laden's capture and assassination last night. White House Press Secretary Dan Pfeiffer first made an announcement via tweet at 9:45 p.m. ET that the President would be addressing the nation at 10:30, following up with a three-word email to selected journalists that said "get to work." Then Keith Urbahn, a former Chief of Staff for Donald Rumsfeld, seems to be the first out of the gate with this tweet from 10:25 p.m. ET: “So I’m told by a reputable person they have killed Osama Bin Laden. Hot damn.” (See the NYT's account of the trail of the leak.)
The fast-fingered action of many a Twitter newshound then allowed the dissemination of the news to spread far and wide well ahead of traditional news channels. We got our first AP news alert at about 7:50 PT (10:50 ET), and by then all the big TV networks had pre-empted their programming.
Also, we're hearing the funny account of a man named Sohaib Athar, an English-speaking resident of Abottabad and a bored-looking IT consultant, who was up late on Twitter bitching about all the helicopter noise and the blast he heard nearby ("Go away helicopter - before I take out my giant swatter :-/"), only then to discover later, "Uh oh, now I'm the guy who liveblogged the Osama raid without knowing it." Afterward he also informed his followers (now numbering 56,000) "Not many twitter users in Abbottabad, these guys are more into facebook. That's all." Besides link sharing, Twitter's mostly for bitching and moaning anyway, right?
Also, Twitter was THE go-to place to find out how Paris Hilton, Charlie Sheen, and Michael Moore felt about the historic event. Quoth Sheen: "AMERICA: #WINNING that's how we roll."