Breaking news on Twitter

Mengdie Hu, Shixia Liu, Furu Wei, Yingcai Wu, John Stasko, Kwan-Liu Ma

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

95 Scopus citations


After the news of Osama Bin Laden's death leaked through Twitter, many people wondered if Twitter would fundamentally change the way we produce, spread, and consume news. In this paper we provide an in-depth analysis of how the news broke and spread on Twitter. We confirm the claim that Twitter broke the news first, and find evidence that Twitter had convinced a large number of its audience before mainstream media reported the news. We also discover that attention on Twitter was highly concentrated on a small number of "opinion leaders" and identify three groups of opinion leaders who played key roles in spreading the news: individuals affiliated with media played a large part in breaking the news, mass media brought the news to a wider audience and provided eager Twitter users with content on external sites, and celebrities helped to spread the news and stimulate conversation. Our findings suggest Twitter has great potential as a news medium.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationConference Proceedings - The 30th ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2012
Number of pages4
StatePublished - May 24 2012
Event30th ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2012 - Austin, TX, United States
Duration: May 5 2012May 10 2012


Other30th ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2012
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityAustin, TX


  • Breaking news
  • Opinion leaders
  • Social media
  • Twitter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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