This Week in Politics & Digital: Bin Laden Killed, Obama Stays Cool
This week was dominated by the news of Osama bin Laden’s death, and social media was right there to watch, track and comment on the news as it unfolded. However, the week started on a lighter note with President Obama and Saturday Night Live lead writer Seth Meyers taking the stage for the White House Correspondents Dinner. The jokes, especially those about Osama bin Laden and the fight against terrorism, take on new meaning in the run-up to the military operation.
This weekly series picks out some of the week’s top stories in the intersection of digital technology and politics. Have a look through and let us know what you think by joining the conversation in the comments below.
The biggest news to hit the Internet — and arguably the world — this week was the death of Osama bin Laden. Social media played a large role in how people came to terms with and sometimes celebrated the death of Al Qaeda’s number-one man during a U.S. military operation. Mashable was all over that angle with articles about how the news broke through Twitter, social media reactions on Facebook and Foursquare, infographics, and even an unexpected live tweeter in Abbottabad where the action took place.
The New York Times Lede Blog did a great job trying to cull the facts, including an official narrative released from the White House, which also took to the Internet and social media to help break the news and to spread information.
The White House has not released an image of Bin Laden’s body, however, it did release pictures of the president and his team in the Situation Room observing the operation. The pictures, posted on the White House’s Flickr page, have already become some of the most viewed on the popular photo-sharing site. Flickr told Mashable some of the pictures have more than 600,000 views, with some receiving more than 13,000 views per minute when they were released.
The State Department, FBI Investigate Change.org Attacks
Government officials have taken a stand against the denial of service attacks slamming Change.org, a U.S.-based activism platform.
The attacks started shortly after the site created a petition calling for the release of Chinese artist Ai WeiWei. The State department has now joined in, saying that defending against these kinds of hacker attacks is part of the “top tier of American foreign policy,” the Bay Citizen reported.
The FBI has also joined in, says Change.org founder Ben Rattray. “We heard today the FBI’s cybersecurity people are investigating to see what more they can uncover,” Rattray told the San Francisco Chronicle.
Gay Rights Go Viral
When Minnesota Rep. Steve Simon, a Democrat from the Minneapolis suburbs, asked his colleagues to re-think their stance on homosexuality, he probably wasn’t expecting the speech would be put on YouTube and receive more than 244,000 views in four days. He raised the theoretical question that homosexuality is innate, or God-given, “How many more gay people does God have to create before we ask ourselves whether or not God actually wants them around?”
The rhetorical question didn’t actually change the final vote; the committee voted 10-7 to forward a bill banning same-sex marriage.
Finally, on a lighter note, the 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner took place last Saturday. Obama showed he could dish as good as he could take by poking fun at the birther movement. He showed a “video” of his actual birth, instead playing a clip from Disney’s The Lion King, then joking: “I want to make clear to the Fox News table, that was a joke. That was not my real birth video, that was a children’s cartoon. Call Disney if you don’t believe me, they have the original, long-form version.”
Seth Meyers, the night’s comedy speaker, aimed some jokes at both sides of the aisle including jabs at C-SPAN, Donald Trump and America’s international debt: “Let me just say up top that this evening I’m going to be making a lot of jokes about many of the people in this room, but don’t worry, I assure you no matter how harsh the jokes, they have all been vetted by the man at the top, Chinese President Hu Jintao.”
Both Meyers and Obama ended their speeches by thanking the press for their work bringing important issues and stories to the public, even when those stories put them in danger.
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