Twitter reports huge usage, no Fail Whales for Election Day

Maybe you heard about this election thing that took place yesterday. Even if you were literally in a cave, chances are you were getting updates about it on your phone via some service — and that service may have been Twitter.

The micro-messaging service saw huge usage numbers yesterday as Barack Obama was elected the United States’ new president. Twitter cofounder Biz Stone shared some quick stats on the company’s blog:

  • Updates increased 46% from previous Tuesday
  • 7p-9p PST updates up 200% compared to same time last week
  • Signups on Tuesday were up 40.3%
  • Between 7p-9p PST signups were up 96.5% compared to same time last week
  • Messages per second peaked almost 3x compared to first debate.

Those are all huge numbers for a service that is increasingly entering the mainstream consciousness.

It’s no surprise that Twitter saw such numbers on Election Day. Earlier data showed that not only was usage reaching new heights during this season’s key political points such as the debates, but that all of this political interest in the service was sucking in new users. Twitter seemed aware of that when it set up an election sub site.

Now the question for Twitter is: Where to go from here? With the election over, will Twitter be able to hang on to all of these new users? If they signed up for political discourse, they probably aren’t going to be content with the standard “What are you doing?” updates. Or, to put it more bluntly, those that signed up to learn about problems at polling stations probably aren’t going to care that I’m brushing my teeth with cinnamon toothpaste.

But one of the strengths of Twitter is that it’s malleable to what people want to talk about. So if there is something big going on, people can and will talk about it on Twitter with ease. I’m just worried the rest of this year may be a dead zone of topics. Sorry, but holiday well-wishes aren’t going to cut it for me, and we have a long way to go until MacWorld in January.


In his post, Stone also rightly gives his team of developers a pat on the back for keeping Twitter running during the increased usage. Certainly, a few months ago there was no way the service could have stayed up under such stress. But yesterday, as Stone notes, there was “not a whale in site” — which, aside from the typo (or bad joke), refers to the Fail Whale image that shows up every time the Twitter site goes down.

I’ll give Stone a break on the typo, though, since he used the awesome Obama “OMG” logo, which, if you squint just the right way, looks like a certain author of this article’s name.

You can find me on Twitter here along with fellow VentureBeat writers Eric Eldon, Dean Takahashi, Anthony Ha, Chris Morrison and Dan Kaplan. Oh, and we have a VentureBeat account (for our posts) as well.

[photo via BuzzFeed]


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