Search Sites Report Surge In Attack-Related Queries

By eweek  |  Posted 2001-09-14

Search engine sites such as AltaVista, Ask Jeeves, Google, LookSmart and Northern Light Technology were besieged with queries related to the attack on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11.

Google offered a few statistics emanating from an analysis of what many of its 120 million hits Tuesday - roughly a normal day in terms of hits - were looking for. The search engine had set up links to cached pages of major news sites, as did AltaVista and the other search engines. Google found the number of news related searches Tuesday compared with the day before had increased by a factor of 60, according to Eileen Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for the Mountain View, Calif., company.

Eighty percent of its top 500 queries Tuesday were to seek information related to the hijacked airliners on both news sites and other sites.

At 6:51 a.m. PST Tuesday, or 48 minutes after the second airliner was flown into the World Trade Center towers, Google experienced more than 6,200 queries for CNN in one minute.

It established an "America Under Attack" section and then registered the following as the top ten queries on that section: CNN, World Trade Center, British Broadcasting Corp., Pentagon, MSNBC, Osama Bin Laden, Nostradamus, American Airlines, FBI and Barbara Olson. Barbara Olson was the wife of the U.S. Solicitor General Ted Olson and FOX conservative commentator who called her husband on a cell phone to tell him her plane had been hijacked.

Many Google visitors sought the significance of the Sept. 11 date. Among other events, it was on this that day in 1922 that the British declared the Palestine mandate, over the objection of Arabs in Palestine.

Others checked for information on gasoline prices, since oil and gas prices were expected to skyrocket as a result of the attack.

There also were queries for details on the Boeing 767 airliner, Rodriquez said.

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