ORLANDO, Fla. — Social-media sites Twitter and Facebook revolutionized the 36-day Casey Anthony trial by casting a far-reaching net of news across the globe, bringing minute-to-minute updates directly into people's smartphones, tablets and work and home computers.
On Tuesday afternoon, the coverage reached a zenith on Twitter when the keywords "caseyanthony" were used 34,000 times and "notguilty" appeared 20,000 times an hour after the announcement of the not-guilty verdict on the first-degree-murder charge.
"Bet she's thinking "hahaha, I killed my daughter but proved not guilty, thanks america! drinks on me?" tweeted a follower identified as "xxbriiiikxx."
Another Twitter follower identified as "Aadelung" messaged: "Murderers please move to florida, especially pinnelas county...you can get away with it there."
The trial drew comparisons to another high-profile murder case that riveted the nation: the 1995 O.J. Simpson trial and acquittal that was watched by more than half the U.S. population, keeping viewers glued to their television sets at home and at work.
But the trials couldn't have been more different in the way — and frequency — in which people got their news.
Media organizations across the United States and Florida, including The Orlando Sentinel, launched Twitter accounts that provided instant tweets on the Anthony case as well as offered followers the ability to receive text messages on their cell phones the moment the jury reached a verdict.
A total of 75,510 Sentinel subscribers were sent an alert announcing the not-guilty verdict at 2:34 p.m. Tuesday.
Followers were not interested in just the attorneys' arguments, witness testimony and evidence shown in court; they wanted to know what Anthony wore, how she was acting, when she cried and other details — and they wanted them now.
"(Social media) is a high-efficiency gossip factory," said Dan Gillmor, director of the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at Arizona State University.
At times, Twitter locked up because too many followers were sending tweets in rapid succession.
The appetite for instant information was global.
Google — the most widely used search engine in the world — showed that 'caylee anthony' was the third-most-searched term in the world shortly after the not-guilty verdict was reached by the jury.
Twitter and Facebook personally connect members, meaning that followers can speak to reporters directly, as well as share pictures and documents, and keep them in their pocket-sized devices indefinitely — inevitably kicking television to the curb.
Facebook's more than 500 million active users helped spread the Casey Anthony coverage across the world by linking stories, from news organizations of their choice, to their friends.
Most savvy news organizations promoted their own news stories through their Facebook pages.
But the members of the public are also disseminating the news how and when they want it.
Two Facebook pages emerged on the Internet about Cindy Anthony, the mother of Casey Anthony. For many, she is as polarizing a figure as her daughter.
More than 6,000 people follow the page "Support Cindy Anthony," while close to 1,100 follow the "Cindy Anthony is a Liar." Both pages are filled with thousands of comments from people: some good, some bad.
However, others chose to engage the public across the digital divide not through gossip, name calling or pointing fingers. One Facebook user launched the page "Porch lights on for Caylee Marie Anthony" with the sole purpose of urging its 254,718 members from across to country to memorialize the dead child with a simple act of remembrance.