By Felicia DeInnocentiis | Staff Writer
On the evening of May 1, the country was struck by a wave of shocking revelations: chiefly, that Osama Bin Laden, the notorious leader behind numerous al-Qaeda operations, was killed by U.S. forces. While the report was circulated by both local and world news sources, many teens were informed through Facebook, Twitter, and other means of social networking. In fact, the first official source that announced Bin Laden’s death was the Twitter account of Keith Urbahn, former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s chief of staff. An hour before President Obama’s confirmation speech, Urbahn tweeted, “So I’m told by a reputable person they have killed Osama Bin Laden. Hot Damn.”
“[I found out through] Facebook. Everyone was posting something about it,” junior Katrina McNary said. “At first I didn’t believe it, because it was so out of the blue.”
The various social networking mediums were convenient for spreading the word, and new information was posted with each passing minute, but these channels also quickened the creation of various rumors. Immediately, suspicion as to whether or not the event itself could be a potential hoax was rampant.
“I thought it was a whole big cover-up for something, like the government did something worse, and they’re just using him for something else. We haven’t seen the body yet, and they said they dumped it in the ocean,” junior Brian Davila said.
Other students came to believe that Bin Laden passed due to natural causes.
“I heard that he died of lung cancer,” junior Victoria Rivera said.
The suspicions were soon swept away as fast as they came. Students checked with proper sources, such as CNN and NBC, to hear legitimate accounts and the incoming reports that followed. Those who followed the news sites’ own social networking accounts were accurately updated, although truth took a bit longer in arriving.
“With Twitter, as soon as it happens it’s tweeted…[But] if people were tweeting, say, false information, it’s kind of unreliable,” Davila said. “But if it’s put up by CNN, for example, then I’ll obviously believe it.”