Twitter is one of those services I just can’t make up my mind about. On one hand it provides a simple and quick way to get information about what’s going out there whether it be updates from friends or news from my favorite sites. On the other hand, it can get annoying when people use it for the simplest mundane types of things like, “I see an ant.” Then of course there are the times when Twitter simply doesn’t work which has happened on more than one occasion. Complaints aside, one area where Twitter shines is when it acts as a news-wire when something big happens. This week Twitter was more of a news-wire service when the earthquake occurred earlier this week in the Los Angeles area.

The Tiwtter blog took the time to point out how it took only seconds for the first Twitter update to appear saying there was an earthquake in California. It took several minutes after the quake before official news started to emerge. At that point there were already thousands of people who had “Twittered” about it. The real-time aspect of Twitter is what makes it something completely unique and different from what other news services are able to offer, and Twitter updates are first-hand accounts.

Twitter put together a graph that shows when the earthquake occurred, and then the surge in Twitter updates that followed. The graph also points out how it took about 9 minutes after the quake before the AP wire sent out the news to other news agencies. Take a look:

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Is Twitter becoming a news-wire? In this situation it was certainly a popular form of communication during the earthquake, and surprisingly enough, it was able to with-stand the influx of Twitter updates without problems. If anything, this earthquake showed just how powerful real-time micro-messaging services like Twitter can be.