On September 11, 2001 the blogosphere was still in its infancy and Twitter was five years away. Instead of tweeting, Americans turned to e-mail lists, message boards, chat rooms, and forums. At the time, Free Republic was — and still is — a popular forum for sharing news and discussing issues — including many issues the mainstream media ignored or couldn’t keep up with. On 9/11 there were twenty-one different threads at Free Republic related to the attacks — the first comment was posted at 8:52 a.m., just six minutes after Flight 11 slammed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. By the end of the day there would be thousands of comments as Freepers discussed the attacks and sought information.
It’s heart-rending to read through the threads and relive the play-by-play as the events unfolded. But it’s also fascinating to see the crowdsourcing aspect of the forum as Freepers across the country pieced the story together and tried to make sense of the senseless.
The Free Republic moderator who collected and archived the threads wrote:
Bookmark this thread, and bump it from time to time when the nation and the press seems to forget why we need resolve in the face of evil. Forgive some of the early misinformation and broken photo links, and recall the horror and fury.
To help us remember the “horror and fury” I’ve gone through the threads and posted a sampling of the comments on the next few pages. I did not edit the comments — I left spelling and grammar the way they were originally posted on 9/11 — I think it helps to convey the sense of urgency in the comments.