Google, Twitter and Osama Bin Laden’s death
The death of Osama Bin Laden is one of those truly global news events that has grabbed the headlines from Washington to the Tora Bora Mountains.
The figurehead of the al-Qaeda terrorist network was shot to death by US special forces in Pakistan yesterday, almost 10 years after the September 11th attacks.
Bin Laden's death raises many issues and will fuel fresh debate about the war on terror, instability in Pakistan and the threat of reprisals against western targets.
But this is also a huge story from a search and social media perspective.
Twitter, the micro-blogging site, has apparently witnessed record levels of activity in the hours since news first broke with members sharing opinions, rumours and links.
And in fact it was Twitter that broke the story. As members of the media were informed that US president Barack Obama would be making an unscheduled statement, the rumours about Bin Laden started appearing in various tweets.
Among the more authoritative was one from Keith Urbahn, chief of staff to former defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who tweeted from his BlackBerry: "I'm told by a reputable person they have killed Osama Bin Laden."
He revealed in a later tweet that his source was a TV network news producer.
Bin Laden's violent end was also, rather unsurprisingly, top of the bill on Google last night. Search results for "Bin Laden" are dominated by breaking news stories about his death, along with videos and other new content. This is a good example of how Google's algorithm favours fresh content around trending topics.
Finally, Yahoo put out some really interesting stats this morning about the search trends it had seen in the US. Apparently one of the most popular queries was: "who is Osama Bin Laden?"