Discovery Channel gunman story broke on TwitterNews can spread quickly online. This week when a gunman entered the headquarters of the Discovery Channel, Twitter users had the news first. An office worker at the building took a picture of the gunman in the courtyard which was circulated to colleagues and then posted to Twitter using Twitpic. Word of the hostage situation was quickly out and the net was alive with discussion on the topic.

However when a story breaks about your brand online it can sometimes be hard to find the source of that story. Particularly if you’re under time pressure, wiping your clammy brow as you ponder how best to stem the flow of inaccurate information used or counteract claims being made. Similarly if an embargo has been set for a news story and this embargo is broken by an eager-beaver journalist, how can you find out who broke that story first?

Google Realtime Search is a handy tool which can help to find the origins of a story online. You simply type in the keywords from the story or headline and set the timeframe you want to look at. You can also narrow your search to updates with images if you wish.

For example:

Google Realtime example

(h/t Digital Inspiration)