Never before have we as a society been more "plugged in" and aware of events as they occur on a global scale, virtually in real-time, and there's no doubt social media has served as the primary enabler. Some may call it a curse, and others a blessing, begging the question: "Are significant events of newsworthiness occurring on a more frequent basis, or are we simply more aware and informed given the tools available to us today?".
Regardless of your opinion on the above, we have the #breaking hashtag to thank for allowing us to be informed literally up to the second an event occurs. The #breaking tag is generally used to announce and therefore allow the tracking of news and events developing at the moment in time in which the particular post was created. If you're looking to stay on top of / be aware of what is going on, on a global scale, tracking the #breaking hashtag is the best place to start.
Let's take a general look at the usage of the #breaking hashtag over a 30-day period:
We can see from the graph above that the #breaking hashtag has some pretty significant usage, averaging around 25,000 tweets per day, so why the anomaly on November 8th, 2016? There must have been a significant event that occurred on this day in particular to spike the usage of the #breaking hashtag to over 120,000 tweets.
Sure enough, here in the United States, the presidential election took place on that day, which would correspond to #breaking information being posted as the results of the election unfolded. As you can see, even on a general basis, tracking a tag and looking for anomalies regarding its usage clearly signifies a significant event of interest likely took place on that day, worthy of further investigation. This is a primary benefit of being able to track tags and uncover trends, events, etc, that may not, in all cases, have been obvious otherwise.
By looking at related hashtags (tags that accompany #breaking in the same post), we may also be able to get a general sense of the type of news being reported on. Let's take a look:
Want to be "that guy", always "in the know", regarding current events and developing stories on a global scale, without the back breaking work of have to sift through a variety of sources across the web, TV, and radio? Tracking #breaking is just the "break" you need.