Twitter, Facebook, AIM and a number of news sites all experienced slowdowns or loss of certain services as they wrestled with increased online traffic following reports of Michael Jackson's death on June 25. At its peak, some 3.5 million people in North America were visiting news sites every minute, an astounding number but not enough to take the number-one spot in that category, occupied by Barack Obama's election.
Traffic to both news and social-networking sites spiked following the death of
Michael Jackson on the afternoon of June 25.
The Los Angeles Times reported that its Website experienced
a massive inflow of traffic, with some 2.3 million page views in one hour;
simultaneously, the number of "tweets," or 140-character messages
posted on the social-networking site Twitter, increased twofold.
Facebook's traffic reportedly increased threefold as news of
Jackson's sudden death by unknown causes spread online; and at the New York
launch party for the new Nokia N97 smartphone, guests stayed glued to their
mobile devices while complaining that sites such as CNN.com and The New York
Times were experiencing massive slowdowns.
At its peak late on June 25, some 5,000 Jackson-related
messages were zinging around Twitter, which temporarily disabled its Search and
Trends features. The death of Farah Fawcett added additional pressure to the
"Stepped off a 10hr flight to discover Twitter is essentially
a wake for recently departed Michael Jackson," Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter,
tweeted on the evening of June 25.
Unlike the thousands of music fans who were rapidly gathering
at that moment for impromptu memorials, however, Stone seemed relatively
unaffected by the King of Pop's moonwalk into the Great Beyond, at least if his
next tweet was any indication: "A nice dinner at home and I'll go to bed as soon
as I catch up on 'True Blood.'"
Executives at AOL were probably less relaxed about the
situation; the unexpected flood of traffic, coupled with a scheduled software
update, knocked its AIM instant messaging service offline for 40 minutes during
"Today was a seminal moment in Internet history. We've never
seen anything like it in terms of scope or depth," said a statement from AOL.
According to net usage monitor Akamai
visitors to online news sites spiked at more than 4.2 million visitors per minute
between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. EST on June 25, with 3.5 million of those visitors from
However, those numbers were far below the highest peak for
online news consumption, which came on Nov. 4, 2008 at 11 p.m. EST, when
8.57 million visitors per minute were tracking Barack Obama's