Big Bird tweets take over Twitter during US presidential debate

4 Oct 2012

Image via Muppet Wiki

The race to be the next US president is entering its final stage, with the first presidential debate taking place last night in Denver, Colorado. Much of the campaign has been followed closely on social media, but last night it was the mention of a famous 8-foot bird that prompted the most tweeting.

More than 10m tweets were sent during the debate, breaking the record 9.5m tweets sent during the Democratic National Convention last month and making it the most tweeted-about event in US politics.

According to the Twitter blog, the topics that generated the most buzz on the microblogging network were debate moderator Jim Lehrer’s “Let’s not” response to Republican hopeful Mitt Romney’s topic request, current US President Barack Obama’s “I had five seconds” comment to Lehrer regarding the time limit, and the discussion about Medicare and vouchers.

Twitter analytics - US presidential debate, Denver

Some Twitter accounts dedicated themselves to checking the facts spouted by each candidate, and the debate also spawned a parody account for @SilentJimLehrer. But the real star of the debate on Twitter was the beloved Sesame Street star, Big Bird, thanks to a comment made by Romney.

More than 250,000 tweets flooded in following Romney’s comment that he would cut government funding to PBS, the network that broadcasts the long-running children’s TV show, but added, “I like PBS. I like Big Bird.”


Image via @FiredBigBird

As well as tweets about the giant yellow muppet, parody accounts like @SadBigBird, @FiredBigBird and @BigBirdRomney were set up in support of the potentially endangered Big Bird. Of course, this isn’t the first parody account spawned by the US presidential campaign, and it surely won’t be the last.

Elaine Burke is the editor of Silicon Republic