According to the Project for Excellence in Journalism, the two main ways people on Twitter and Facebook weighed in on Osama bin Laden's death were with humor and conspiracy theories. Debates over who deserved credit for the capture, when Bush and Obama's numbers were combined, would have come in third. That coverage focused as much on jokes and hoaxes is interesting, particularly for an event which made it to Twitter before any traditional news was released. In contrast, the mainstream media was mainly preoccupied with details about the raid, the next favorite topic being the world's reaction.
Let's go back to the chart above. We wouldn't be the first to point out that jokes are one way the nation releases a little social tension, tension built up to an unbearable level after ten years of pent-up bloodlust for the world's most wanted man. And with the conspiracies, it's increasingly clear that the Internet is the kind of place where dubious things get to hide out in million-dollar mansions an hour outside of town, protected from the light of day. That may be the only way to explain the slew of hoaxes that have emerged in the aftermath of this event.
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Chart courtesy of the Project for Excellence in Journalism.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.