Mumbai was a big step towards mainstream for Twitter

The terrorist attacks in Mumbai was not only a tragic event, it was also the real breakthrough for social media as official news resource. Especially for Twitter.

When the news began to spread on Twitter yesterday, it was the only source of information that was fast enough. After a while, someone started to upload pictures to Flickr and the Wikipedia article was probably the most trusted collection of news from Mumbai. But Twitter and Twitter Search was still the most important news source and the two most used Twitter Searches where highly relevant and updated the same minute something happened.

Actually it was so important that the Indian government tried to shut the Twitter Search-page down because they thought the terrorists followed it. A lot of tweets where updated with the exhortation that please don’t update with more information in order to protect the rescue operations.

#mumbai This is to anyone in India, please do not update on here of the operations of your police or military. That only jeopardizes them.

The blog Dangerroom published two of the more significant tweets as examples:

“Hospital update. Shots still being fired. Also Metro cinema next door,” tweets mumbaiattack. “Blood needed at JJ hospital,” adds aeropolowoman, supplying the numbers for the blood bank.

This shows how important the Twitter posts was, often sent by people directly involved in the event, using Twitter as the fastest and easiest way to communicate. And the suspicions of the Indian government, that the terrorists monitored Twitter as well, shows another dimensions of the impact micro blogging can have on live reporting of important events.

This was a real breakthrough for Twitter to become mainstream, and it happened over one night. Probably has the breakthrough meant that more people have gotten more accurate information.

Discussion: Twingly, Techcrunch, Mathewingram and Rainbow of Chaos.
Update: CNN: “Tweeting the terror: How social media reacted to Mumbai”