According to a report on CNET, the news of bin Laden's death first broke on Twitter, and not from the White House or news networks. Such an event is highly surprising, but Twitter occasionally beats everyone else to breaking news. A former aide to Donald Rumsfeld, Keith Urbahn, tweeted the following before news networks could say anything: "So I'm told by a reputable person they have killed Osama Bin Laden. Hot damn."
Most people around the world know who bin Laden is because he masterminded the 2001 terrorist attacks against the United States. Of course, the country has pursued him ever since then. A lot of people gave up hope long ago that he would ever be captured alive, and the news comes as a surprise to almost everyone.
Urbahn's tweet even beat a New York Times report that noted the White House and President Barack Obama would be making a speech about a (then) unknown matter. Some Americans believed the speech would be about Libya or something else, but none expected news of Osama bin Laden's death. In reality, President Obama's speech actually came later than expected, as evidenced by news networks giving all of their details and speculation on the matter quite some time after the planned 10:30 PM eastern time speech.
Of course, a lot of the speculation on Twitter turned out to be false, aside from Urbahn's tweet about Osama bin Laden. That is expected on a platform where millions of people around the world can say whatever they want. Still, it's extremely surprising that the social media platform beat everyone to the bin Laden death news.
In the future, nobody should be too surprised about Twitter users' power to report the news before networks or officials can say anything. A person can send a tweet much quicker than a news network can get together facts and break news story. In its history, Twitter broke news of the Fort Hood shooting and Hudson River crash landing before anybody else. Social media might one day constantly have the edge over news networks and officials.