The map of how bin Laden news spread through the Twittersphere

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The news about Osama bin Laden’s death spread through the world like wildfire thanks to Twitter, Facebook, news sites and other social media.

The map above shows just how fast it all happened in the first 12 hours after the first tweets about the killing of the world’s most-wanted terrorist, starting around 7:30 pm Pacific time on Sunday. Sysomos said that its social media monitoring tool measured the spread.

Sheldon Levine of Sysomos said that about an hour and fifteen minutes after word started spreading, and just as President Obama finished his address, there were more than 500,000 tweets, 796 blog posts and 507 published news articles. About 2.5 hours after the news broke, there were 860,177 tweets, 3,079 blog mentions, and 3,235 news stories.

Within 12 hours, more than 40,000 blog posts and news stories had appeared. And the news had been tweeted more than 2.2 million times. The map shows that people in the U.S. were tweeting about it the most, but other regions of the world were doing so as well. About 63 percent of the tweets came from men, and 37 percent from women.

Twitter, meanwhile, said that it hit a peak of about 5,106 tweets per second last night at 8 pm Pacific time. That was close to a record in volume of tweets, beating out the Super Bowl 2011, which had 4,064 tweets per second. But it wasn’t as big as New Years Eve 2010 in Japan, with 6,939 tweets per second. During the Japan quake and tsunami, tweets per second hit 5,530 and passed the 5,000 mark five times on March 11.

But the event had the highest sustained rate of tweets over a period of hours. On average, the tweets per second were 3,000 between 8:45 pm and 11:20 pm yesterday. There were 38.7 million tweets in three hours and 35 minutes. (Yes, clearly Twitter’s official data is different from Sysomos’ data). By comparison, the Super Bowl hit a sustained 3,000 tweets per second for only 20 minutes. During the royal wedding on Friday, the tweets per second hit 3,966.

At 8 am Pacific time on Sunday, a Twitter user living near bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan, Sohaib Athar, unwittingly liveblogged the helicopter raid on the bin Laden property. Around 6:45 pm, White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer told the press corps that Obama would make an announcement at 7:30 pm. At 7:25 pm, former defense secretary chief of staff Keith Urbahn tweeted that he had been told by a reputable person that Osama bin Laden had been killed.


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