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Network World - President Obama's late-night announcement of the death of Osama bin Laden by Navy SEALs triggered a massive amount of real-time comments, searches, social networking and video streaming. The traffic explosion bogged down news pages and for a while even crashed CNN's mobile news site.
Keynote Systems reported that CNN's mobile news site went down for a time after the news broke late Sunday night, according to VentureBeat's Dean Takahashi, who was posting news almost as it happened.
Keynote's mobile and cloud traffic monitoring system found streaming video sites going black under the heavy demand, which varied from region to region in the U.S., with most of the East Coast already asleep when President Obama made his announcement after 11 p.m. EDT. But it was still early enough for users in the western half of the country to turn to their cellphones for the latest news, search for more information, and share it via Twitter and Facebook, both of which exploded with activity.
"This caused a much bigger spike than the royal wedding," according to Dave Karow, senior product manager at Keynote, quoted by VentureBeat. Keynote said that late last night, Web news sites were about 60% available, "meaning 40 percent are down at any given moment," according to VentureBeat.
Karow was quoted: "I would expect mobile to crater faster [than regular sites]. It's a wilder frontier. But this year, web news sites are taking mobile seriously, as the number of smart phones grows. When people hear news now, they look to their mobile phones for confirmation."
A striking example of this was last night's tightly fought, extra-innings baseball game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Mets in Philadelphia. USA Today reports that as word of bin Laden's death filtered through the crowd, by smartphones and word-of-mouth, the crowd began chanting "USA! USA!'' (An AP photo captures fans at the game working their phones.)
But on the field and in the dugouts, the players had no idea what caused the chanting. "I really didn't understand what was going on there for a minute, and then someone came in and said bin Laden had been killed,'' Phillies starter Cliff Lee told Philadelphia news reporters. "It took them long enough.''
The first report of bin Laden's death apparently was on Twitter, by Keith Urbahn, once chief of staff for former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, according to The New York Times.
His tweet in full: "So I'm told by a reputable person they have killed Osama Bin Laden. Hot damn." He at once followed this with a disclaimer: "Don't know if it's true, but let's pray it is."
According to The Times: "Within minutes, anonymous sources at the Pentagon and the White House started to tell reporters the same information. ABC, CBS and NBC interrupted programming across the country at almost the same minute, 10:45 p.m., with the news. 'We're hearing absolute jubilation throughout government,' the ABC News correspondent Martha Raddatz reported."