We all heard the sad news yesterday that Steve Jobs, founder and visionary at Apple, had died at the age of 56 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.
I heard it from a client who lives one mile from Apple headquarters and was awoken by helicopters over his house at 4.30am. But most people heard about it via social media. Within seconds of an official statement released by Apple, the first tweets started to appear.
“#ThankYouSteve for the magic you brought to people’s lives.”
“iSad. RIP Steve Jobs for leaving your mark on technology.”
“My iPhone made all the difference during earthquakes on 4 Sept, 22 Feb & 13 June – it found my kids & reassured my family #eqnz #ThankYouSteve”
“Life is the only thing Bill Gates has beaten Steve Jobs at. #ThankYouSteve”
“Steve Jobs changed the world. We have lost a true pioneer and American visionary #iSad #ThankYouSteve”
Twitter users started spreading the news of Jobs’s death, adopting #SteveJobs #iSad and #ThankYouSteve hashtags attached to their tweets. For the first few hours, the rate of Twitter activity about Job’s death looked like it was going to break the tweet per second record of 8,868 tweets per second, set after U.S. R&B artist Beyoncé announced her pregnancy at the MTV Video Music Awards in August.
Australian social media monitoring firm SR7 estimated that Twitter activity hit 10,000 tweets per second following the announcement:
“We’re awaiting the official Twitter data to be released, however, from the numbers that we’ve been monitoring through the day since the announcement it’s certainly been trending to break that record,” Peter Fraser, co-founder of SR7, told the news agency Agence-France Presse.
TwitSprout went even futher, claiming tweet activity reached 42,000 per second at one point.
But it was Twitter who finally revealed the truth. In a statement given to Forbes last night, a spokeswoman from Twitter said that their internal data showed a rate of 6,049 tweets per second. That’s faster than tweets following the death of Osama bin Laden (a little over 5,000 TPS), but below the 8,868 tweets per second that followed Beyonce’s pregnancy announcement.
But even though the death of the technology icon failed to break the all-time tweet record, Steve Job’s death *did* break Twitter temporarily. The site fell over for around 2 minutes under the weight of the heavy initial tweet load.
Apart from anything else, it’s an interesting insight into the growth of Twitter. Consider this: following Michael Jackson’s death in 2009 there were just 493 tweets per second being sent, yet this was still enough to crash the service.
As a final tribute to Steve Jobs and the impact he had, Twitter staff put together a fascinating infographic portrait, consisting of a visualization of public #thankyousteve Tweets, sent over about 4.5 hours yesterday.
RIP Steve Jobs.