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Whose death brought Twitter, Wikipedia and other websites to their knees?



Answer: Michael Jackson

In terms of fame, everything from playing a minor role in an almost forgotten seat to achieving megastardism that gives your name to households in billions and keeps it there for decades. It was the kind of mega-fame that kept singer and practitioner Michael Jackson in the limelight until his last moments and the same mega-fame that led hundreds of millions of people around the world to turn to the internet for more information at the announcement of his death .

The general interest in the hours and days after Jackson's death was so intense that it gave websites big and small to their knees. TMZ, an LA-based celebrity gossip website, officially broke the news and the LA Times picked it up almost immediately. The two websites were pushed almost directly offline by the massive wave of subsequent traffic.

Google asked so many questions for Jackson's names as engineers there thought they were under a massive, albeit proprietary, denial of service attacks. In that afternoon, Wikipedia experienced crashes from the extreme load of tens of millions of searches for the king of pop, Twitter was temporarily beaten offline and AOL Instant Messenger experienced as much traffic as the service was buried under the volume of instant messaging. Global Internet traffic was a total of 20 percent higher, as the entire awakening world was looking for everything related to Jackson.

The larger internet is built to survive disturbances in traffic and disasters, and large corporations have bitter hardware that supports them, but half of the world while scouring the internet for information on one of the most famous musicians in history was certainly not in their disaster playbook.

Picture courtesy of Westlake Recording Studios.


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