Digital Event

Amy Winehouse: How Twitter Broke the News (@stylistmagazine)

The social network as news source

News of Amy Winehouse’s tragic death hit Twitter 20 minutes after she was found. Stylist profiles its rise from social network to ground-breaking news source.

Where were you when you heard the news about Amy Winehouse? Millions of us were on Twitter. Forty minutes before the story was reported on mainstream news websites and TV channels, and within 20 minutes of the police being called, Twitter users had already been retweeting early tributes to the 27-year-old singer.

“Amy Winehouse” rapidly became one of Twitter’s trending topics, representing nearly 10% of all tweets worldwide – with approximately 20 million people communicating with each other about her death. As they heard, via Twitter, people around the world googled her name for confirmation.

Yet for that crucial 40 minutes, there was nothing. The search terms “Amy Winehouse”, “Amy Winehouse dead” and “Amy Winehouse death” quickly became the top three Google searches, pushing searches on Norwegian gunman Anders Behring Breivik down to number four. As one Twitter user noted, “It’s never a good sign when someone’s name starts trending out of the blue on Twitter, is it?” It was only when news of the singer’s death began appearing on the BBC’s news feed that fans truly believed the sad news. One tweet read: “BBC reporting Amy’s death via PA newswire. So that’s that, then.” Nevertheless, the news of her death was revealed on Twitter first.

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