Live-tweeting: from joy to disasters


Undoubtedly one of the great features of Twitter is the ability to live-tweet something happening right now.

Today we regularly see journalists live-tweeting from press conferences and, increasingly, the courtroom depending on which jurisdiction they operate in. People live-tweet from conferences and sports clubs like Port Adelaide Football Club live-tweet their matches (in this case using the #pafclive hashtag).

Live tweeting childbirth

Recently, one of the more headline-grabbing live-tweet events occurred with Twitter employee Claire tweeting about going into labour. This might induce (pun intended) gasps amongst some readers, until you have a chance to look at Claire’s Twitter feed and realise it wasn’t a blow-by-blow of the intricacies of labour, nor did it drag the parents’ attention away from a momentous personal occasion. Rather, many of the tweets related to the dramatic journey to the hospital where their car broke down several times, as well as some fun tweets about the hospital room experience, a discrete photo of a drip in Claire’s hand, culminating in a few lovely baby photos.

Claire used the tag #inlabor (US spelling) to share her story and her baby daughter Lucia has her own Twitter account where we might follow her future progress.

Live-tweeting murder trial

Paralympian Oscar Pistorius’s murder trial has received widespread media coverage to say the least, and that has extended to live tweet-coverage, although earlier the judge did not approve social media coverage, she later changed her mind:

“On Monday, Masipa had ordered that Saayman’s evidence may not be broadcast live, tweeted or blogged as it contained graphic detail of the wounds Steenkamp sustained when Pistorius shot her dead … On Tuesday morning, the judge said that someone gave her information about blogging and tweeting, and “in respect of this witness, blogging and tweeting is allowed” [from]

Constant tweet coverage isn’t always inspiring or insightful; it occasionally covers the more straightforward or mundane when attempting to continually keep people updated. The Global Post bemoaned the ‘boring tweets’ coming out of the trial.

Tweeting disasters

Disasters and tragedies can sometimes be live-tweeted even as people still grapple with what is going on and try to embark on some citizen journalism. The Boston Marathon bombing received tweet-coverage, not all of it accurate of course and there were added complications when some people tuned into the police scanner began to tweet what they were listening to. The Boston Police Department had to send  “a Tweet pleading with people to stop sharing tactical information gleaned from the scanner feeds” (read more).

I was at a PR conference in Adelaide last year where the head of the Boston PD’s communications Cheryl Fiandaca spoke about the use of social media during the hunt for the bombers. Keeping people informed on Twitter was key. According to The Huffington Post, “This single Twitter account, perhaps more than anything else on the Internet, memorialized the horror of the bombs and the joy of the capture in real time”.

Boston PD's famous "captured" tweet
Boston PD’s famous “captured” tweet


There have been quite a few papers written about the bombing and social media, many listed here in the Homeland Security Digital Library blog.

Other emergency agencies are astute users of social media and when appropriate will live-tweet events. Again in the US, the National Transportation Safety Board live-tweeted during its investigation of the Asiana Flight 214 crash on the runway at San Francisco International Airport.

I’m stuck!

On the more light-hearted side of things, there are instances of fun live-tweets where people have a “dramatic experience” and tweet their nervousness or confusion to help them through. In something akin to a first world problem, tweeter Emily Keeler found herself locked in a department store after hours and shared her dilemma of not being able to exit.

This reminds me of pal @paulwoodsa tweeting about being stuck in an elevator some years ago. Again, it was an awkward situation that most of us would not be comfortable with especially if you don’t enjoy small spaces or the odour of strangers. Yet tweeting while you’re waiting for security staff can be calming and make for funny Twitter tales.

I only wish I had my phone when I locked myself in our new bathroom recently; yet if I’d had my phone I wouldn’t have been stuck for long …

Tweeting while being hit-on

A woman on a plane famously tweeted about the man (wearing a wedding ring) flirting with her during a plane flight. Her tweets received quite a few RTs and Favorites as people were either appalled by the husband’s behaviour or repelled by the live-tweeting of that cringeworthy scenario. (Husband and wife later appeared on American television to discuss the episode).

Plane tweet
Plane tweet

Tweeting surgeries live

Surgery Live was a Twitter account that accompanied a Channel 4 television show in the UK where “for four consecutive nights, surgeons will carry out life-changing operations in front of a studio audience live on Channel 4, answering your questions as they work”. The hashtag #slive was used to curate questions and answers.

Tweeting world events

And then there was the man who unknowingly live-tweeted the raid that found Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011.


How about you?

Have you ever live-tweeted coverage of an event? Or do you want to add another example to my  list?

5 Comments Add yours

  1. @ADRD live tweets their Roller Derby bouts. Relatively easy to do when it’s one bout. The scoreboard auto posts the scores so the live tweeter can post photos & interesting commentary. However more difficult when hosting a large tournament – The Great Southern slam – with 44 leagues involved & hundreds of bouts happening over a 3 day period. Not exactly sure if it’s relevant to post in detail when so much is going on!

  2. Simone says:

    I’m addicted to the live-tweeting concept. I myself tend to live tweet episodes of my favourite television shows or the ceremonies of major award shows. Even though I’m in Adelaide, I can watch and experience a new episode of my favourite crime drama with viewers in the US and across the world. It’s fantastic fun and offers a great connection to people with similar interests to you. Recently a personal favourite for me in the live-tweet stakes is the cast and crew of ABC America’s show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D – the entire cast live-tweet the show each week, and the banter between stars and viewers has fast become a highlight of my twitter feed. They chat about the episode, share behind the scenes photos and stories, and generally welcome the fans into the world they’ve created – which strengthens their fan base and will hopefully allow them to continue making the show.

  3. ronhoenig says:

    Hi prakky. There is a fascinating set of live tweets by tweeters known as immigrant x and immigrant y which seem to be about actions by activists or advocates to stop or delay forced deportations of asylum seekers. Since I never hear or read about these actions independently I never know whether this is ‘fiction or faction’ as the tweeters describe themselves. I catch these dramas at #asylumseekers

    1. Prakky says:

      Thank you Ron, I’ll take a look at the tag on Twitter.

  4. Ron hoenig says:

    Just came across an article fromswedenabout people refusing to do up their seat belts so that a plane on which a man was being deported could not take off. The deportation was aborted.

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