Graham Linehan, The IT Crowd, Osama bin Laden and the power of Twitter


If you’re the one or two folks that haven’t heard this story, read on. The rest of you just have to decide which is faster….the power to spread a hoax through vague tweets on Twitter or the realization of the hoax through traditional 21st century online media. At this point, given this first person account from Father Ted and IT Crowd creator/writer, Graham Linehan, I’m thinking that the power of Twitter is going to win out, even though I’m doing my part to help spread the news of the hoax.

For those that don’t know, this all started 7 May, not long after Osama bin Laden was killed in a Navy Seal raid. To test the waters as to the power of Twitter, Linehan decided to speculate as to the contents of the grainy photo that circulated days earlier of bin Laden sitting in front of a television set with more wires and antennas coming out of it than the old “Fox viewing positions” days and seemed to have more snow than Denver in February. It started with just a simple…

Tweet:“Does anyone have confirmation that Osama was watching The IT Crowd in these home movies? Amazing if true. Don’t know how to feel”Glinner May 7, 2011 at 18:40

It wasn’t until the next day that Linehan realized what he had only just begun. “It’s scary what Twitter can do. You can’t get more offline than my mother, and even she said to my brother, the day after the story “broke”, “Did you hear about your brother and Osama?

For a complete day-by-day, minute-by-minute account of the power of Twitter, click here for the full story from Linehan, himself, who states that in the end, after all this, there’s a good lesson to be learned here. This was brilliant, however.

In a nutshell, it ended (or did it?) some 11 days later with the following comment from where it began.

  • totally halfway off topic but I’ve been listening to a lot of the Divine Comedy lately so this made me smile…okay, yes, I am crazy. as for the story…anyone who has seen the shows, isn’t it sort of obvious he was joking? or I guess maybe I am thinking too hard about it, hah..it seems like he was joking! that’s scary how it spread. the man is very genius though to see about how twitter would react once he posted that message. hahahaha the big bang theory….anyway thanks for posting this! I actually hadn’t heard of it, very interesting to hear of it!! xx

  • okay, edit to my above comment: just read the story, haha, sorry to assume he did it just to see how twitter would react…is there a way to edit or delete comments?

  • hahahhahaha, i’m reading the bbc article, this man is hilarious