PEJ New Media Index: Social Media React to bin Laden's Death

May 12, 2011

The killing of Osama bin Laden accounted for 80% of the news links on blogs last week, making it the biggest single-week news topic discussed in the blogosphere since the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism began tracking blogs in January 2009. The bin Laden conversation also accounted for fully half (50%) of the news links on Twitter from May 2-May 6. That would register it as one of the top 10 Twitter stories in the past two years.

After a full week, social media continued to discuss bin Laden’s death in much the way PEJ found they had after the first three days. In a special report on May 5, PEJ reported that on blogs, the leading topic was a narrative account of the dramatic May 1 raid in Pakistan while humor and jokes constituted the largest response on Facebook and Twitter. For the rest of the week, those basic outlines remained, although attention to both those themes diminished.

And while bloggers and Twitter and Facebook users were busy sharing and disseminating new developments in the basic narrative throughout the week, there was also substantial skepticism in the online platforms about whether the al Qaeda leader had actually been killed in the May 1 raid.

Read the full report, Social Media React to bin Laden's Death, on the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.

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