Presidential Debates: More Than 10 Million Tweets in Less Than 2 Hours

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Facebook might be celebrating its 1 billionth user milestone today, but Twitter also has a reason to party. Wednesday night 10.3 million tweets were fired off during the first of three presidential debates. That's 10.3 million messages in 140-characters or less sent out over 1.5-hour period. Twitter says it is the most tweeted event in recent U.S. political history, beating out any of the 2012 convention speeches.

Twitter has also released the graph above, which shows the most popular moments in the debate, according to the number of tweets per minute, or TPM. Jim Lehrer's "Let's not," in response to Romney's request for a topic change, racked up the most, with 158,690 tweets per minute. Then a few minutes later, Obama's "I had five seconds" quip got 152,677.

Twitter has posted more on its blog about Wednesday's debate, including information from @factcheckdotorg and @thecaucus, which tweeted facts and responses moments after the candidates rattled off figures and statements. Of course, there were also the funny accounts that popped up, such as @BigBird, @FiredBigBird and @SilentJimLehrer.

But beyond the sheer volume of information and humor, there was genuine discussion happening on the social platform. As people watched they clung to phones, tablets, laptops to share their reactions. Some voiced their frustration with a particular candidate, while others remarked on the style of the debate.

Yes, in the end it amounted to more than 10 million tweets, but each on its own represents the impact of social media on this election: Every one of those tweets gave someone a public voice.