In the 10 years that Twitter has been around, celebrities and fans have tweeted along, in 140 characters or less, to live events. But there are some things that people — especially government agencies — choose not to share.
Today, boundaries were crossed. To mark the five-year anniversary of the finding and killing al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, the Central Intelligence Agency chose to tweet the raid as if it was happening live.
The CIA started the event at 1:25 p.m. EDT. At that time, President Barack Obama, CIA Director Leon E. Panetta and Commander of Joint Special Operations Command William McRaven approved executing a raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where it was known that bin Laden was in hiding.
The CIA’s Twitter account then took viewers from the military helicopters’ departure in Pakistan to inside the Situation Room in the White House at 3:30 p.m. Nine minutes later, bin Laden was killed, as tweeted on Sunday.
— CIA (@CIA) May 1, 2016
Five years ago, only those inside the Situation Room knew of the successful raid. The American public found out much later in the day, when Obama announced the death during a televised broadcast from the East Room of the White House. “We must and we will remain vigilant at home and abroad,” he said.
Americans took to the streets to celebrate the death of bin Laden, the man who had orchestrated the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Crowds in New York, Boston and all over the United States waved flags and chanted “U.S.A., U.S.A.!,” the New York Times reported.
Now, the CIA attempted a virtual re-enactment on Twitter. But not everyone was pleased with the results.
Would've been better if u guys made accounts that talked to each other
I thought the @CIA was good at drama
— ❥ ɞυnniє ︎ɞiтcн (@bunniejacked) May 1, 2016
@CIA pic or didn't happen
— Sarx88 (@Sarx88) May 1, 2016
@CIA you man need to stop. live tweeting a mans death... wtf bruv
— Brudda Nay (@niggernaY) May 1, 2016
But, at least, the CIA was offering a new use case for Twitter, a company that has struggled to capture as many users as Facebook or even Instagram.