While entertainment luminaries and thousands of fans gathered today at Los Angeles' Staples Center to remember Michael Jackson, millions more converged online to watch the memorial service live and post comments on Facebook and Twitter.
On Twitter, Jackson's memory dominated the conversation. According to social media site Mashable, during the service, tweets related to Jackson occupied all 10 slots on the list of trending Twitter topics. "MJ Memorial" and #michaeljackson were two of the most tweeted terms, but users also discussed the performers and presenters at the service.
The partnerships with Ustream and CBS, viewers could watch the video of the event while tweeting. But, as Twitter has done in the past, it shut down a few times during the Webcast, giving users a page with the notorious "fail whale."
Facebook users also came out in virtual droves to mourn the King of Pop. Through integrations with CNN, ABC News, MTV, and other Web sites, Facebook users were able to talk about the service while watching a live stream of the event on those sites.
The CNN partnership attracted more than 300,000 users and about 6,000 status updates per minute. On ABCNews.com, nearly 100,000 Facebook members gathered for the memorial, generating about 50,000 status updates in total.
Facebook said the Michael Jackson memorial page had grown to 7 million members (from only 800,000 before his death), possibly making it the largest single following of any public figure on the Web. It also said the free Michael Jackson virtual glove gift is the most popular in Facebook history, with over 800,000 downloaded.
Yahoo! said the memorial was the single most streamed event in its history, with 5 million total streams. The second-biggest event was the inauguration of President Barack Obama, with 1.8 million total streams.
Akamai Technologies, Inc., a leading online video distribution company, said it was the second-largest day ever in terms of total traffic on its network. The company said it delivered about 2.2 million live and on-demand streams.
"Consumer interest in online news regarding all aspects of Jackson's life, death investigation and planned funeral proceedings has remained high since his death," it said in a statement.
But though it was a banner day for Akamai, those numbers do not come close the the number of live streams it said it served the day of Obama's inauguration. At its peak on that day, which saw unprecedented Internet activity, Akamai said it served 7 million live streams simultaneously.
But the unparalleled demand for live video also led to a matching decrease in Internet performance.
Many news sites, including CBS, Fox Business, NBC, ABC, the Wall Street Journal and NPR, slowed considerably and struggled to deliver all of the live streams.
According to San Mateo, Calif.-based Keynote Systems, between 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. ET on Inauguration Day, the Internet slowed by 60 percent because of the volume of online video viewers.
The evening of Jackson's death, Keynote observed a similar decline as a crush of fans and mourners looked for information online.
Beginning at 5:30 p.m. ET, the time it took to download major news sites doubled from about four seconds to nine seconds. And the average availability of sites that it monitors dropped from almost 100 percent to 86 percent.