As News of Bin Laden’s Death Broke on Twitter, Site Experienced Record Traffic

By Andrew Gauthier 

“Last night saw the highest sustained rate of Tweets ever,” Twitter announced today, saying that there were 3,440 tweets per second last night from 10:45 to 12:30 p.m. ET, marking the time after news first broke of Osama bin Laden’s death (chart above).

As Obama’s speech to the nation was repeatedly pushed back, journalists took to Twitter, buzzing about the abruptly announced address and attempting to glean information about its content. A tweet sent out by Keith Urbahn, Donald Rumsfeld’s chief of staff, around 10:25 p.m. ramped up speculation that Obama was preparing to announce the death of bin Laden, and many news outlets began tweeting their own announcement of the Al Qaeda leader’s demise in the moments before the president took the podium.

As Brian Stelter of The New York Times wrote last night:

The nation’s television anchors and newspaper editors did not know, at first, that President Obama would be announcing the death of Osama bin Laden, an extraordinary development in the nearly 10-year-long war against terrorism waged by the United States and its allies. But reporters in Washington suspected almost immediately that the announcement could be about bin Laden.

That speculation was not aired out on television immediately, but it did erupt on Twitter and other social networking sites.