The death of Osama Bin Laden and Social Media

So, it looks like the “death” of Osama Bin Laden has not only created problems for POTUS and the team but even much of a ruckus online and fortunately or unfortunately, social media has a great part in it to play as well.

Why social media ? Well, there has been very less incidents lately that has spared social media out of it, for good or bad. With every major news break out, it looks like there are a set of patterns that emerge. Spam links, fake Osama pics, “untold stories”, fake emails and what not ? Osama Bin Laden’s death is no different.


An image purporting to show Osama bin Laden’s bloody corpse, right, is a composite of two separate images, left and centre. Photograph: twitpic Source: Guardian

Soon after Osama’s death, we saw the spam links popup on facebook first. Much similar to the “Mine was hilarious. Find out how you’ll look after 20 years” link. This time the message was equally if not more attractive – “Osama Bin Laden’s shocking video leaked”.

Accept it. Many fell.

Without knowing, messages were posted on friends profile from victim’s account, in thousands. The theme was so catchy that even people who generally stay out of scams fell.

Links spread on emails too. The theme was similar. Check out Osama Bin Laden’s latest picture. Osama Bin Laden still alive – went the titles.

The point is that, everytime there’s a news break out, spammers and scammers are quick to make use of the situation, banking on people’s curiosity and ignorance. And social media is a platform where things happen more quick and rapid than anywhere else.(Not an understatement that). But interestingly, many a times, social media is blamed for being “not-so-serious” about the issue. Is it fair ? Lets find out.

The Twitter problem

The Deccan Chronicle today has a column in which Sidharth Bhatia writes about how Shoaib Athar could have damaged the whole U.S Operation to kill Osama Bin Laden with his tweets. The article questions about the effects it could have done, if Shoaib had tweeted identifying the U.S army militants. Luckily he didn’t and that might have saved a huge problem.

I disagree that this is a “social media problem”. Had an NDTV correspondent been there and managed to get an exclusive snap of the helicopters, he would’ve done something even more dangerous, flashing it live on TV.

It is significantly important to know that there was an avid tweeter in Abbottabad, and not a newspaper or TV correspondent. Now, the social media fanatics (you hate that term, don’t you?) might consider this a win over traditional media. But I think this is an example to learn from more than anything.

Shoaib Athar might be an overnight star. But he’s an example of how social media’s reach and power today. Try denying it, “traditional media” folks !

2 Responses

  1. Well, social media is overloaded with Obama and Osama things, just type O in Google and you will find Osama in suggestion keyword

  2. It show the power of social media help to go viral.
    Before Osama death the news came from twitter first right before breaking news in CNN. Mean it spread the news faster than the CNN news.
    Then here come the facebook spam as you said. It allow everyone bring this topic everywhere in a short time. Never look down on power of social media.

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