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On Facebook, celebration and accusation over Osama bin Laden's death

May 02, 2011|By James Oliphant | Washington Bureau

They celebrated in New York, they celebrated in front of the White House, they celebrated in Lawrence, Kan., and in towns and cities across America. And they celebrated the death of Osama bin Laden in a place that didn’t exist when the 9/11 attacks took place -- Facebook.

Dozens of “Osama bin Laden is Dead” Facebook pages sprung up Sunday evening, giving that social network's denizens an opportunity to celebrate, vent or -- the Internet being what it is -- posit conspiracy theories that refuted the notion that Bin Laden had been killed in Pakistan (or that he had even existed in the first place).

Some pages featured graphic pictures of his body. Others celebrated the U.S. military.

Photos: Osama bin Laden dead

If the early hours and days after the attacks on New York and Washington in 2001 resulted in a rare moment of national community, Sunday evening 10 years later made for somewhat of a bookend. But the community had grown and changed, and its members are more intertwined with each other -- and more aware of their differences -- than ever before.

It made the news traverse the Web, and the world, in eye-blink speed. And it also gave people a fresh opportunity to disagree, especially over whether President Obama deserved credit for Bin Laden’s death, an argument that will be played out over and over again into the 2012 elections.

On the White House Facebook page, commenters were quick to praise Obama. "This is what you call a RESULTS oriented President!," wrote one.

On other pages, such as Sarah Palin's Facebook site, it was a different story. Palin took to Facebook to note Bin Laden’s death. As might be expected, few on Palin’s page were willing to begrudge Obama anything, showing that in this politicized time, unity such as that showed after the 9/11 attacks could be very difficult to come by.

Read one recent post Monday morning:

"Thank you President Bush!!! Without your unquestionable dedication, justice would likely not have been served. Obama, shows us the body...and the birth certificate. Sarah 2012!!!"

Photos: Osama bin Laden dead

james.oliphant@latimes.com

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