Situation Room image could be Flickr’s most viewed photo


4 May 2011

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An image of US President Barack Obama and his national security team watching the mission which ended in the death of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden could soon become Flickr’s most viewed photo.

The image was uploaded on 2 May on the White House’s Flickr account, where it was stated it was an image of the US President and the rest of the security team “receiving an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden” in the Situation Room on 1 May.

This was on the same night that bin Laden, credited as the mastermind behind 9/11, was killed by US Forces in a luxury hideout in Pakistan.

While the image description states that the team was merely receiving an update, it was later said Obama and his team watched the mission happen in real time, possibly witnessing bin Laden’s death as it happened.

White House counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan said they could not reveal details on what the visuals were or the type of feed they had, but they could track the mission on an ongoing basis. Reports stated that Navy Seals often wear helmet cameras that transmit sound and video to the operation centres which can be fed live to the White House and Pentagon.

"It was probably one of the most anxiety-filled periods of time, I think, in the lives of the people who were assembled here," Brennan said.

"The minutes passed like days, and the President was very concerned about the security of our personnel."

Flickr stats

The power of the image has been reflected in its Flickr viewing stats, as according to TechCrunch, the image has had more than 1.5m views so far. The White House’s Flickr account averages at 100,000 views per day but yesterday it received 2.5m views. Today, it has had 3.6m views.

At one stage, the image received 140,000 views per hour.

Flickr said it’s the fastest viewed image its tracked and was much higher than the most viewed image from the Royal Wedding, which gathered more than 1.3m views on Saturday.

It could soon knock the currently most viewed image on Flickr from its throne, an image of the Nohkalikai Falls in Cherraphunjee, which has amassed more than 2.9m views since its upload in 2006. An impressive feat, considering the White House image was only uploaded two days ago.