Osama Bin Laden’s Death Lights Up Social Media

Twitter breaks a record as users rush to react to Sunday night's news.

Danny Al Hassan, 21, didn’t learn about Osama bin Laden’s death from a news website or television broadcast. He found out on Facebook.

“I checked my Facebook, and I noticed that all these Osama bin Laden statuses are up, and so that’s how I figured it out,” said Hassan, a senior at New York University.

He wasn’t the only one. Many people took to Twitter, Facebook and other social-media platforms to express their thoughts on Bin Laden’s death. Twitter, especially, saw a spike in activity, with the site announcing this morning that it saw the “highest sustained rate of tweets ever” during Sunday night’s breaking news.

“There was a huge reaction, at least social-media-wise, definitely,” said Lauren Pikman, a junior at NYU.

While Pikman learned about Bin Laden’s death from watching the news, she said she signed on to Facebook promptly after to post a reaction. “I wanted to Facebook immediately, and I saw that at the same time, probably like 10 of my friends already posted statuses and changed statuses and changed their profile pictures,” she said.

While Facebook has not yet made a statement about changes in user activity following the news of Bin Laden’s death, the site did see a jump in visits to Facebook pages for U.S. Navy, the SEALs and U.S. Army, according to Wired. The photo-sharing site Instagram also saw an increase in activity Sunday night, with The New York Times reporting that the company saw a 35 percent jump in user photo uploads for a Sunday evening.

New York University sophomore Alan Abbott said he thinks people turned to social media because it allowed for instant reactions.

“It makes it easier for us to see everybody’s opinion right away,” he said. “That’s why we wanted to go on social media and see the status feed, because we knew that that was going to be the place where people were going to be commenting exactly on what they were thinking.”

Did you use social media to react to Bin Laden’s death on Sunday night? Let us know in the comments.