Watch Twitter traffic spike following Japan's massive earthquake

When a natural disaster strikes, normal lines of communications are often the first thing to fail. So when the Sendai earthquake hit Japan back in March, huge numbers of people in Japan turned to Twitter to let their loved ones around the world know that they were okay.

Self described information design nerd Miguel Rios has taken Twitter's personal message traffic figures for the hour following the quake, and turned them into a cool visualization that shows just how fast the news spread around the globe. In the video, personal tweets originating from Japan are shown in red, while retweets of those messages are shown in green.

What's clear is that most of the outgoing messages went to people in North America or other parts of Asia and Australasia, while people in Europe mostly got the news through retweets. Africa and Western Russia were pretty much out of the loop, as were Sarah Palin and her friends up in Alaska.

Most of that makes sense based on population density and Internet coverage, but I'm surprised so few direct messages went to people in Europe. Was it because it was 6.45 in the morning there?

Gizmodo, via Twitter Blog

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