Twitter clocked 31 million tweets about the election alone on Election Day, including an unusually high amount of tweets sustained over several hours, but the microblogging service was a good host and did not crash under the weight of the nationwide political conversation happening in real time.
Doug Bowman, creative director at Twitter, declared victory Tuesday night over the "fail whale," the symbol Twitter uses when the site is “over capacity" and therefore unavailable.
RIP, Fail Whale.— Doug Bowman (@stop) November 7, 2012
Facebook is the platform to go to "before and after" a big event, Green said, while Twitter has essentially become the "early warning system," often offering news of returns before the major media networks.
While political conversation was also at an all-time high on Facebook on Tuesday night, Facebook is a closed platform not suited to quickly sharing or gaining information in real time. Twitter performed that function for thousands of politicos, journalists and campaign staff and did so without stuttering, thanks to the infrastructural work behind the scenes.
Twitter said the total tweets sent Tuesday night, including those that did not seem linked to the election, averaged about 9,965 tweets per second for a full hour following Obama's announced win, with a one-second peak of 15,107 tweets per second and a one-minute peak of 874,560 tweets per minute, according to Twitter engineers.
That spike comes close to toppling the past record number of tweets per second, and far exceeded past instances that have crashed the site, including Beyoncé's pregnancy announcement at last year's VMA awards, which prompted 8,868 tweets per second, and about 10,000 per second sent at the conclusion of the last Super Bowl. Japan's 2012 New Year's celebration still holds the record, hitting hit 16,000 tweets per second.
Twitter might have overcome the "fail whale," but Green said their next obstacle is the "signal to noise" ratio.
"The question coming out of the election and moving on is, as the volume of tweets is going up and up ... how does Twitter become a source of just quality information and not just information overload?" he said.
Still, a few users were able to stand out from the crowd using Twitter on Election Night.
President Obama, the fifth most popular Twitter user in the world, earned his most popular tweet ever on Tuesday night. The tweet, a photo shot earlier this year of the president being hugged by the first lady that included the text "four more years," is already the most re-tweeted ever on Twitter and most liked post ever on Facebook.