Jackson Traffic Threatened to Break Internet

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 26, 2009 2:32 PM CDT
Jackson Traffic Threatened to Break Internet
British newspaper front pages are displayed in London, reporting the death of Michael Jackson.   (AP Photo)

The surge in Internet traffic yesterday as Michael Jackson fans searched for information about his death had a deep impact on the Web, Ars Technica reports. Sites as diverse as Twitter and the iTunes Store slowed to a crawl, but perhaps the most profound effect was on Google. The search engine interpreted the high volume as a cyberattack and went into so-called “self-protection mode.”

That means Google threw up alerts and CAPTCHAs—tests to confirm a user is in fact human—in response to the surge, which a spokesman called “volcanic.” The caution was not unfounded: Spammers mobilized immediately, sending out fake emails touting info about Jackson to harvest addresses. Status-update traffic on Facebook tripled, Twitterers were unable to tweet for a period, and classic Jackson songs are shooting up the iTunes chart. (Read more Michael Jackson stories.)

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