Keith Urbahn, former chief of staff to Donald Rumsfeld, was not the first person to tweet speculation that Osama bin Laden had been killed, but he was the one who got the credit.
Socialflow.com breaks down the flow of information, deducing that Urbahn had the right combination of influential people reading his tweet and confidence in the accuracy of the information.
Case in point: Within a minute, 80 people reposted his words — including The New York Times media reporter Brian Stelter — and 300 did so in the first 120 seconds.
Socialflow explains further:
“On the evening of May 1st, people using Twitter figured out that Osama bin Laden had been killed over an hour before the formal White House announcement. Within minutes of hearing about the emergency presidential address, Twitter users were actively working to figure out the puzzle. 38 minutes after the announcement about Obama’s address, a certain tweet confirming speculations posted by @keithurbahn, Chief of Staff at the office of Donald Rumsfeld, started spreading like wildfire. Keith was not first to speculate that the address is related to Bin-Laden, nor did he have a particularly influential presence on Twitter, with a following of 1,016 and a casual digital portrayal. But the right network effects came into play, and enabled his post to generate enough trust amongst his followers, their followers, and so on.”
Check out the entire post. There is some amazing information about, well, the flow of information in the digital age.