Michael Jackson’s death brought several web sites to a standstill last night as people rushed to the internet to get confirmation about the singer’s demise and discuss the news with friends.
UK internet visits to the michaeljackson.com homepage increased 17-fold after his death. The site was the ninth most visited music web site in the UK yesterday, and the highest ranked artist homepage.
For around 35 minutes last night, Google security procedures kicked in automatically, responding to what was interpreted to be a sustained 'attack' as the world searched for news of Michael Jackson's death. Users were delivered an error page blocking search queries related to the star, on the grounds that they looked "similar to automated requests from a computer virus or spyware application".
"It's true that between approximately 2.40PM Pacific and 3.15PM Pacific, some Google News users experienced difficulty accessing search results for queries related to Michael Jackson and saw the error page," Google spokesman Gabriel Stricker confirmed to the BBC.
The Los Angeles Times web site also crashed shortly after breaking the news that Michael Jackson had officially been declared dead. The Twitter ‘Fail Whale' also made an appearance as servers at the micro-blogging site crashed amid the flurry of 66,000 Tweets made within a 60-minute period.
“We saw an instant doubling of Tweets per second the moment the story broke,” Twitter co-founder Biz Stone told the Los Angeles Times. “This particular news about the passing of such a global icon is the biggest jump in Tweets per second since the US presidential election.”
Users looking to respond immediately via AOL's AIM instant messaging service also found themselves unable to use the service for 40 minutes.
“Today was a seminal moment in internet history. We’ve never seen anything like it in terms of scope or depth,” an AOL spokesperson said.
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