What caused "The Great Twitter Spike of Oct. 27, 2009"?

Pingdom survey shows heaviest tweeting occurred then … but why?

Pingdom chart
The Web site performance monitoring company Pingdom tracked Twitter traffic for three weeks and in addition to accumulating a bunch of interesting data left us with the question in the headline.

Right now I wish they hadn't.

From the Pingdom post:

The highest number of tweets per hour we measured was 1,841,289. This peak happened around 8 p.m. EST on Tuesday, October 27. We have a sneaking suspicion this had something to do with either baseball (MLB) or some American TV show, because it was in the middle of the night in Europe.

Whatever happened on the evening of October 27, U.S. time, made a big mark on Twitter. The increase, in terms of scale, was close to the amount of tweets produced by the rest of the world. (Can some Americans chime in on this? We here at Pingdom are based in Sweden...)

I really wanted to help, and honestly, I tried.

It's a trivial task to find the date on which a particular event happened. It's non-trivial to find out what happened on a particular date. (In the old days, I'd have a stack of New York Times print editions right here in my office, another stack of Boston Globes at home, and a look at one dated Oct. 28 would quite possibly reveal an answer. The Times Web site is not quite that good in this regard, although perhaps it has the necessary functionality and I could not find it. The Globe archives weren't working.)

Bottom line: After spending way too much time looking, I still do not have an answer. And what makes this failure interesting as well as frustrating is that we've all gotten so used to the Internet providing such information with a few clicks (and for that I love it dearly). Not this time, at least not for me.

Here's what I have learned, however.

The World Series started on Wednesday, Oct. 28, so baseball chatter was unlikely to have been the cause.

Reality TV seemed to have a rather routine night on Oct 27, although I don't watch that crap so there could be something there that doesn't jump out at me.

I could not find a significantly notable celebrity death on that day.

Balloon boy was a couple of weeks prior.

The "current events" page on Wikipedia was no help.

My guess at this point would be either that there was a major news event of some sort that has escaped my admittedly rudimentary search ... or the spike was caused by nothing in particular.

Feel free to solve the puzzle and please let me know if you do. My e-mail is buzz@nww.com and I'm @buzzblog on Twitter.

(Update: I've e-mailed the Twitter public relations department seeking an answer.)

(Update, Monday, Nov. 16: We might have an answer.)

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