Bin Laden Tweeters Shun the Limelight

The two men credited with breaking the news of 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden's death on Twitter are both shunning the spotlight a day later -- as much as one can shun the spotlight while broadcasting 140-character opinions to the world.

"Appreciate all the RTs [retweets] and props, but this moment belongs to Pres. Obama and the thousands who dedicated careers & lives to this fight," Keith Urbahn, chief of staff to former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, tweeted Monday morning.

Around 11 p.m. Sunday night, Urbahn tweeted: "So I'm told by a reputable person they have killed Osama Bin Laden. Hot damn."

Speculation that President Obama's upcoming address, announced an hour earlier, was about bin Laden's death had already spread throughout the Twittersphere and elsewhere online, but Urbahn and his speculative source were the most highly connected people to say it by that point, and the tweet spread like wildfire.

Urbahn quickly tried to play down the tweet's significance: "Ladies, gents, let's wait to see what the President says. Could be misinformation or pure rumor." Within minutes, though, the New York Times, CNN and other news outlets were reporting the same information. President Obama confirmed Bin Laden's death around 11:30 p.m.

At the point Urbahn went to bed, friends were already reporting seeing his tweet on CNN. When he woke up Monday morning, he reported having 3,000 new Twitter followers.

A few hours later he tweeted: "My source was a connected network TV news producer. Stories about 'the death of MSM' [mainstream media] because of my 'first' tweet are greatly exaggerated."

Several hours earlier and on the other side of the world, an IT consultant who identified himself as Sohaib Athar and tweets under the handle "ReallyVirtual" unwittingly live-blogged the CIA's attack on bin Laden's secret compound, describing the sound of the attacking helicopters and speculating about what they were doing.

After the significance of Athar's tweets spread throughout the world, he too tried to downplay their significance, tweeting "Bin Laden is dead. I didn't kill him. Please let me sleep now."