Twitter trumps media to Jakarta blasts

Social media empowering masses to connect in times of turmoil

This morning's bomb blasts in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta have once again proved the ability of microblogging site Twitter to break news well ahead of traditional media.

Tweets about the Jakarta blasts began spreading before media outlets broke the news story, beginning with Jakartan resident Daniel Tumiwa, who claimed to be at the site of the bomb blasts.

His tweet: "Bom [sic] @ marriot and ritz Carlton kuningan Jakarta," with Kuningan referring to central Jakarta’s upscale commercial business district, was posted close to 11am Sydney time.

Another Twitter user, Andre Siregar, claiming to be in Jakarta at the time of the blast tweeted: "Something going in Mega Kuningan. Explosion? In Ritz Carlton and felt building shaking. Marriott hotel has some broken glasses."

Media outlets, such as the ABC, began reporting the blasts about 30 minutes later.

Since then, thousands of Tweets have gone up about the blasts. As at the time of posting this story, the Jakarta blasts were trending second only to Harry Potter, and updating at a rate of about 100 posts a minute.

Last month, Twitter became a communication lifeline to the citizens of Iran, following a government crackdown on the Internet and media reporting following disputed elections.

Speaking to Computerworld in June, IDC analyst Caroline Dangson, said members of the general public were becoming reporters in the field due to the wide availability of social media applications and mobile Internet connectivity.

"Social media is empowering the masses to connect, share and organise in ways of incredible scale and speed that are much harder, if not impossible, to control," Dangson said at the time.

Also in June, news surfacing about Michael Jackson on the day of his death, saw such a massive surge to Twitter, that users managed to knock it offline.

In November 2008, members of the public used Twitter to communicate information about the Mumbai terrorist attack in India.

One Twitter user also posted one of the first pictures from the blast site on TwitPic, which media outlets utilised.

The Marriott has also used Twitter to inform the public about the unfolding event in Jakarta.

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