Twitter recorded its highest sustained rate of tweets ever last night, as millions took to the social network site to share in the news of the death of terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden, according to the company. Between 10:45 p.m. ET and 2:20 a.m, there was an average of 3,000 bin Laden-related tweets per second (TPS), peaking at 11:00 p.m. when that figure reached 5,106 TPS.
Compare those figures to February’s Super Bowl, which peaked at 4,064 TPS, and Friday’s Royal wedding, which topped out at 3,966 TPS. The Japanese earthquake and tsunami generated enormous Twitter traffic – it topped 5,000 TPS five times on March 11 – but the all-time Twitter record remains New Year’s Eve in Japan, when revelers piled up 6,939 TPS.
Last night’s avalanche of bin Laden-related tweets began with two posts from unusual sources: Donald Rumsfeld’s chief of staff Keith Urbahn, and… Dwayne Johnson, a.k.a. The Rock. At 10:24 p.m., eight minutes before a CBS reporter tweeted a confirmation, the Fast Five star posted, “Just got word that will shock the world – Land of the free…home of the brave DAMN PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN!”
Urbahn posted at the same time and included specifics: “So I’m told by a reputable person they have killed Osama Bin Laden. Hot damn.” Since then, the former Navy intel reserve officer has seen his Twitter followers go up more than 15-fold.