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Twitter Sets Olympic-Scale Records

Max ‘Beast from the East’ Smolaks covers open source, public sector, startups and technology of the future at TechWeekEurope.

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Records are set as Usain Bolt joins the pantheon of Twitter celebrities

The 2012 London Olympics inspired a record 150 million tweets in 16 days, officially becoming the most tweeted event in history, according to statistics provided by the microblogging platform.

Usain Bolt set the record for sports-related tweets, with his performance in 200m sprint generating over 1,300 tweets-per-second.

Most tweeted

“No matter the sport, Twitter was your front row seat for all the action,” said a statement on the Twitter blog. In total, the Games were responsible for 150 million tweets. That’s despite the fact that spectators at some events were asked to avoid sending any messages due to the detrimental effect they would have on mobile networks and GPS equipment.

The Olympic opening ceremony saw 9.66 million mentions on Twitter in a single day, while the performance by Spice Girls was the most tweeted moment of the closing ceremony, causing a deluge of more than 116,000 tweets-per-minute.

The five most discussed moments of competition, measured in tweets-per-minute were:

  • Bolt winning gold in the 200m sprint (80,000+ TPM)
  • Bolt winning gold in the 100m sprint (74,000+ TPM)
  • Andy Murray winning gold in the men’s tennis singles (57,000+ TPM)
  • Jamaica winning gold and setting the world record in the men’s 4×100 relay (52,000+ TPM)
  • Team USA beating Spain to win gold in men’s basketball (41,000+ TPM)

Usain Bolt, with his 1,56 million followers, was the most-discussed athlete of the games. It was widely reported that he became the first athlete in history to retain the Olympic 100m and 200m titles. However, it later emerged that Leonidas of Rhodes, one of the most famous Olympic runners of antiquity, won the stade (just under 200m), the diaulos (two stades) and the dolichos (20 stades) at four consecutive Olympics between 164 and 152 BC.

Along with Bolt, nine other Olympians garnered more than 1 million Tweets each: Michael Phelps, Tom Daley, Ryan Lochte, Gabby Douglas, Andy Murray, Kobe Bryant, Yohan Blake, Lee Chong Wei and LeBron James.

Football was the favourite sport amongst Twitter users, driving well over 5 million messages, followed by the swimming events, athletics, gymnastics and volleyball.

Outside of sports, the world record for most tweets-per-second was set last December during the Japanese television broadcast of the first film produced by Studio Ghibli – “Laputa: Castle in the Sky.” The premiere of the remastered version generated 25,088 tweets-per-second, when fans across Japan used the microblogging platform to help the characters say a magic spell.

Twitter caused controversy during the Olympics when it suspended the account of British journalist Guy Adams for criticising the Olympic coverage provided by US broadcaster NBC. The company later apologised and reinstated the account.

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