The headline “Jackson dies, almost takes Internet with him” pretty much summed it up. Without question, the BIG story this week was Michael Jackson. News of the pop star’s unexpected death resulted in an Internet meltdown and wall-to-wall broadcast media coverage of the Gloved One. Bigger than Anna Nicole Smith, bigger than the O.J. Simpson story, bigger than cap-and-trade and, as incredible as it seems given last week’s historic online activity buzzing about the Iranian street protests, Michael Jackson’s death nearly brought down the Internet.
Blogger Tom Watson writes, “The mysterious and shocking (though not surprising) demise of the King of Pop seemed to dwarf even primetime sharing moments like Election Night and uprising in Iran. In short, Jackson’s death was the biggest event in the short history of social media.”
CNN reported a fivefold rise in traffic and visitors in just over an hour, receiving 20 million page views in the hour the story of Jackson’s death broke.
L.A. Times Online
The Los Angeles Times website creaked beneath the weight of the story as well, with nearly 2.3 million page views in one hour, more traffic than during any single hour last Nov. 5, the site’s highest-traffic day.
Looking for news on Jackson
Search Engine Land took an inside look at how Michael Jackson’s death impacted search engines Google, Yahoo and Bing.
A statement from AOL noted, “Today was a seminal moment in Internet history. We’ve never seen anything like it in terms of scope or depth.”
Twitter had to temporarily disable its search results, saved searches and trend topics. The volume of Jackson-related messages on Twitter – up to 5,000 per minute at peak – put such a demand on the site that it slowed considerably. TweeSpeed, the Twitter instant speed meter, showed usage had red lined.
“We saw an instant doubling of tweets per second the moment the story broke,” Twitter co-founder Biz Stone wrote in an e-mail response to an inquiry. “This particular news about the passing of such a global icon is the biggest jump in tweets per second since the U.S. presidential election.”
Facebook tripled the number of status updates in the aftermath of Jackson’s death.
Wikipedia saw a flurry of activity, with close to 500 edits made to Jackson’s entry in less than 24 hours.
The Jackson page was temporarily “protected” to prevent any editing as soon as the rumors started – to stop editors from changing the article back and forth to counter conflicting claims and to avoid becoming the subject of a hoax – until the story was verified.
“Thursday was a pretty out-of-the-ordinary day,” said Google spokesperson Gabriel Stricker, describing the scene at Google’s headquarters while millions of people were online trying to find out what happened to Michael Jackson. The rush of traffic was so severe that Google initially thought it was under attack.
“Between approximately 2:40 p.m. PDT and 3:15 p.m. PDT today, some Google News users experienced difficulty accessing search results for queries related to Michael Jackson,” a Google spokesman told CNET, which also reported that Google News users complained that the service was inaccessible for a time. At its peak, Google Trends rated the Jackson story as “volcanic.”
Newcomer BING wasn’t as up to speed as its competitor search engines, earning a “Fail” designation by Lauren Baker, editor of Search Engine Journal, who noted that social media beat traditional media in the reporting of news again:
“It’s been 5 minutes since I made this post and neither CNN, MSNBC nor Fox have reported on the passing of the Great One,” said Baker.
Yahoo reported a flood of traffic too, setting a record in unique visitors with 16.4 million UV’s in a day. Yahoo’s previous record was on Election Day with 15.1 million visitors. Yahoo! News had 4 million visitors come to the site between 3 and 4 p.m., setting an hourly record.
“Hall of mirrors”
And finally, in what one might call a hall of mirrors, Peter Kafka writes about the flip side now being promoted by those same websites: “Look at all of our Michael Jackson traffic!”
Hi! Billy Mays here!
The Apple maker
There’s buzz on the ‘Net about Apple founder Steve Jobs’ health since news broke that he underwent a recent liver transplant. The one story that was hot on the Internet was a well kept secret, until now.
Catch this retrospective of Steve Jobs’ life and how Apple revolutionized not just how we communicate, but the music industry and mobile phones as well. It’s a fascinating look at Apple’s history that features photos and cool videos of Apple’s TV commercial and of Jobs introducing the translucent iMac, Apple’s Internet-focused computer that – controversially – shipped with no floppy drive. “It looks like it’s from another planet.”
BBC’s who’s who in Iran
As the situation in Iran becomes increasingly volatile, the Beeb takes a look at the players in Iranian society.