Obama's remarks on minimum wage, gun violence light up Twitter

President's State of the Union address heats up social networks

Twitter lit up with activity during last night's State of the Union address as users, including journalists and politicians, turned to the social network.

President Obama, in his fifth State of the Union address, touched on hot topics including the economy, gun violence, technology and the minimum wage, and Twitter users responded with comments, debate points and support for their causes.

"Each year the president's State of the Union speech, and the opposition response that follows it, ignites a national conversation about a host of issues," Twitter noted on its blog. "If you watched the speech on TV, you could see how members of Congress and political dignitaries responded to the president's remarks. On Twitter, the ebb and flow of Tweets per minute illustrates some reactions from the rest of us."

Twitter reported that the president's address and the Republican response drew more than 1.36 million tweets. It's a significant number, though not nearly as many as during two presidential debates last fall.

During the first presidential debate on Oct. 3, Twitter had about 10 million tweets, making it the most tweeted U.S. political event. The second debate brought in 7.2 million tweets.

During Obama's speech, the biggest spike in tweets came when the president talked about opportunities for the middle class and the minimum wage, which brought in 24,000 tweets per minute. When the speech turned to gun violence and the need for gun control legislation, the number was almost as high, drawing in 23,700 tweets per minute.

When Obama talked about early childhood education, saying, we need to "make sure none of our children start the race of life already behind...Let's give our kids that chance," Twitter reported 19,000 tweets per minute.

Members of Congress, meanwhile, were busy during the State of the Union event, posting 637 tweets, according to Twitter.

In the Republican response, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio ticked off a litany of concerns about the Obama administration and the size of government, echoing many of the complaints offered up by Republicans during the 2012 campaign. However, the micro-blog service noted that during the GOP response, the peak in Twitter conversation - 9,200 tweets per minute -- came following Rubio's pause for a drink of water.

It also was an active night for news organizations. The BBC, CNN and the Des Moines Register were among the news media services reporting on the event but also tweeting about it as the speech progressed.

While Obama was speaking, his team was busy supporting his positions with tweets. Early in the president's speech, @whitehouse tweeted, "Obama: "Together, we have cleared away the rubble of crisis & can say with renewed confidence that the state of our union is stronger."

His political allies also weighed in. Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark, N.J., tweeted, "President calling for raising minimum wage to $9 an hour "No one who works full time (in America) should have to live in poverty."

Obama's opponents also reached out to their supporters. Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor tweeted, "RT if you think Washington has a spending problem."

However, it wasn't just politicians taking advantage of the event to support their causes.

The U.S. Army, for example, tweeted, "After a decade of grinding war, our brave men and women in uniform are coming home." - President Obama"

NASA also was represented. Lori Garver, NASA's deputy administrator, tweeted, "NASA missions observe our home planet to learn about how a changing climate affects all of us."

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her email address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

See more by Sharon Gaudin on Computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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