Today, we gained more insight into how Twitter is used during major events like Hurricane Sandy.
Twitter announced that between October 27 and November 1 Twitter users sent over 20 million tweets using either “sandy,” “hurricane,” #sandy, or #hurricane. Twitter also noted that mentions of the Red Cross increased by 30 times, use of the word “donate” hit a 180-day peak and “donate blood” reached its 365-day peak.
Mobile usage peaked in New York City around 9 p.m. on October 29, about the same time the ComEd plant exploded. During that time, mobile usage was twice what it was the previous two days, as you can see from this graph provided by Twitter:
I think it’s fair to say that Twitter is increasingly taking the place of the 24-hour cable news cycle during major breaking news events. It’s today’s newswire. It’s where people turn to when breaking news is happening. During Sandy, for example, it combined hyper-local news (a tree down in the neighborhood) with what eventually made it to cable news (Manhattan goes dark) and everything in between. I was fortunate to be able to track the storm on both Twitter and cable news. But eventually my Internet connect was lost and I found myself itching for the lastest updates on Twitter, settling instead for cable news and my windows.