Twitter Breaks News of Whitney Houston Death 27 Minutes Before Press
Twenty-seven minutes before mainstream media broke the news of Whitney Houston’s death on Saturday night, the story was on Twitter, reported by a man who tweeted the news out to his 14 followers.
A tweet — sent at 4:57 p.m. PT — from the Associated Press that confirmed Houston’s death by citing her publicist was retweeted more than 10,000 times, according to data from Topsy Labs. However, the first tweet to reveal the news was sent at 4:30 p.m. PT and was only retweeted once.
My sources say Whitney Houston found dead in Beverly hills hotel.. Not in the news yet!!
— Big Chorizo (@chilemasgrande) February 12, 2012
BREAKING: Publicist Kristen Foster says singer Whitney Houston has died at age 48
— The Associated Press (@AP) February 12, 2012
Mashable was unable to reach @chilemasgrande for comment.
Saturday night, the Beverly Hills Police said Houston was pronounced dead at approximately 3:55 p.m. PT.
This isn’t the first time news a large-scale death announcement was first reported on Twitter. A computer programmer in Pakistan inadvertently live-tweeted the military raid on the Osama bin Laden compound. “Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1 a.m. (is a rare event),” Athar wrote. His message later received global media attention following the news of bin Laden’s death.
The tragic news of Houston’s death spread fast on Twitter. In fact, about 2.5 million tweets and retweets occurred in the first hour, amounting to more than 1,000 tweets a second, according to Topsy Labs. Although this sent Twitter into a flurry of reactions, it still wasn’t enough to beat last Sunday’s Super Bowl record-breaking tweets.
The news of Houston’s death peaked at 5:23 p.m. PT with 61,227 tweets in that minute.
An article from MSNBC was the most re-tweeted news link, as 13,000 tweets linked to the story. Celebrity tweets also spread like wildfire throughout the site as many retweeted their messages and reactions.
Rapper Lil Wayne had the most retweets (29,000), followed by Justin Bieber (15,000), Nicki Minaj (9,000) Katy Perry (8,000), Mariah Carey (6,000) and Christina Aguillera (4,000).
For more Twitter reactions from celebrities, check out the gallery below.
Did you find out the news via a social media site? Do you think Twitter is the future of breaking news? Let us know in the comments.
Graphic courtesy WhitneyHouston.com.
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