Google Mistakes Michael Jackson's Death for Attack
June 26, 2009 at 10:20 AM
" By Jane McEntegart
It seemed the entire world ground to a halt yesterday when news of Michael Jackson’s death was first announced by celebrity gossip site, TMZ. Then, people all over the globe sprang to life, passing along the tragic news through whatever medium they could.
Aside from the usual television, radio and internet news reports, the news was being circulated via email, text message, facebook, Twitter and more.
While my immediate reaction to the CNN tweet that said Michael Jackson had suffered cardiac arrest was to check The Superficial, it turns out an awful lot of folks just Googled the singer's name. In fact so many people typed his name into Google that the search engine thought sometimes sinister was afoot.
Google confirmed to the BBC that when millions of people Googled Jackson at the same time, it feared it was under attack. Users were instead shown a page that read, "your query looks similar to automated requests from a computer virus or spyware application."
"It's true that between approximately 2.40PM Pacific and 3.15PM Pacific, some Google News users experienced difficulty accessing search results for queries related to Michael Jackson and saw the error page," said Google spokesman Gabriel Stricker.
Google was not the only site brought down by the sudden passing of the King of Pop. The Twitter Fail Whale was on show for all to see as the site saw the number of updates per second double and intermittent crashing. Facebook status updates reportedly tripled. Being the first to break the news, TMZ’s website was inaccessible for some people, as was Perez Hilton’s blog as people rushed to verify the news.
However one of the bigger issues people had was with CNN. The site’s twitter was updating with news that the singer was had suffered cardiac arrest and was in a coma while other sites were reporting that Jackson had already passed away, something that did not go unnoticed by its followers. "