It's well known by now that the news of Osama bin Laden's death was leaked to the world first through Twitter, knowingly by former Rumsfeld chief of staff Keith Urbahn (@keithurbahn) unknowingly by Sohaib Athar (@ReallyVirtual), an IT consultant who tweeted about a helicopter and explosions he heard in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Twitter use last night, peaking at over 5,000 tweets per second (TPS if you will), saw the "highest sustained rate of tweets ever," according to the company.
Looking at the chart above, the bin Laden-related tweeting peaked around 11pm EST, a half an hour before Obama spoke, and continued at a high level of roughly above 4,000 tweets per second until almost midnight. Pretty remarkable, given that it's presumably a small fraction of the total people on Twitter at that moment. For those reading and tweeting in real time, it was an amazing to watch the story unfold in real time from such clearly defined sources. And if you didn't, now you know why the guy in the cube next to you has bags under his eyes.