Global pulse


During major events, people use Twitter to share news and thoughts with friends, family and followers around the world. Messages originating in one place are quickly spread across the globe through Retweets, @replies and Direct Messages. We see this behavior during everything from sporting events like the World Cup to widely-televised news events like the royal wedding, and also in the face of major disasters like the March 11 earthquake in Japan, where the volume of Tweets sent per second spiked to more than 5,000 TPS five separate times after the quake and ensuing tsunami. The videos below illustrate what this global flow of information looks like.

Personal messages
On Twitter, we saw a 500 percent increase in Tweets from Japan as people reached out to friends, family and loved ones in the moments after the earthquake. The video below shows the volume of @replies traveling into and out of Japan in a one-hour period just before and then after the earthquake. Replies directed to users in Japan are shown in pink; messages directed at others from Japan are shown in yellow.

Spread of information
The clip below displays worldwide retweets of Tweets originating in Japan for one hour after the earthquake. Senders’ original Tweets are shown in red; Tweets retweeted by their followers in the hour after the event are displayed in green.

Whether across the world or across the street, Twitter — and more broadly, technology — allows people to view the world through each other’s eyes. As a result, we are able to share information and communicate more easily than any time in our past, bringing the world closer.

A special thanks to @miguelrios, whose visualizations of this data help the rest of us understand the world a little bit better.