Twitter has rapidly become the realtime water cooler for talking about live television, with last night’s debate setting a political record for the social networking service with 10.3 million tweets generated.
Television networks have long had small groups of voters watch the debate with electronic devices to indicate their positive or negative feelings towards statements made during the debate. Twitter now allows the rest of the world the same ability with the addition of commentary in 140 characters or less. The company released some statistics Thursday morning on the moments that generated the most reaction from its users.
The most tweeted moments involved debate moderator Jim Lehrer. Lehrer’s response of “Let’s not” to Governor Romney’s request to speak on a certain topic generated 158,690 tweets per minute – the most throughout the broadcast. The second most tweeted moment was President Obama demanding five additional seconds from Lehrer, which generated 152,677 tweets per minute. Lehrer’s moderation performance generated a number of critical tweets, and spawned a parody account entitled “Silent Jim Lehrer.” Other parody accounts sprung up quickly during the debate, including a foul mouthed Big Bird protesting Romney’s proposed PBS cuts.
Twitter noted that a second debate took place through tweets by both campaigns and their staff. Not to be outdone, fact checkers kept busy throughout the 90 minute debate offering instant 140 character analysis of the candidate’s claims.
Connecting with major television events is a focus for Twitter, which has struggled for ways to monetize the service that now claims close to 500 million users.