Internet Buckles Under News of Jackson's Death

Online outpouring from Jackson fans brings Internet to its knees.

ByKi Mae Heussner
June 26, 2009, 10:19 AM

June 26, 2009— -- Nakia Reynoso will never forget the moment he saw Michael Jackson do the moonwalk for the first time. It convinced Reynoso that he, too, was destined for the stage.

So as reports filtered in Thursday evening about Jackson's death, the 34-year-old Austin-based musician posted to Twitter, "RIP The Man In The Mirror, Michael Jackson -- I still remember the day I bought my red leather zipper coat, sequin socks and glove."

Reynoso was just one of millions of fans who descended on the Internet last night to celebrate, mourn and remember the passing of one of the planet's greatest musical talents.

But as the world flocked to Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube and Google to search for news about Jackson and exchange memories, the Internet nearly buckled under the strain of all the traffic, according to industry officials.

During late Thursday afternoon Pacific Time, major news sites, including those for the Los Angeles Times, CBS, ABC and AOL, slowed considerably, according to San Mateo, Calif.-based Keynote Systems Inc., which monitors the performance of Internet and mobile networks.

"Beginning at 5:30 p.m. ET, the average speed for downloading news sites doubled from less than four seconds to almost nine seconds. During the same period, the average availability of sites on the index dropped from almost 100 percent to 86 percent. The index returned to normal by 9:15 p.m. ET," said Shawn White, Keynote's director of external operations.

Even the ever-reliable Google was affected by the millions of searches related to the king of pop.

"Between approximately 2:40 p.m. Pacific and 3:15 p.m. Pacific yesterday, some Google News users experienced difficulty accessing search results specifically for queries related to Michael Jackson," Gabriel Stricker, a Google spokesman, told

Of the top 100 Google searches Thursday, more than 50 were related to Michael Jackson, the company said, adding that as people searched for lyrics to favorite songs, "Thriller," "Man in the Mirror," and "Billie Jean" were three most popular.

The social media blog Mashable reported that according to the Twitter tracking tool Twist, at least 30 percent of Tweets Thursday evening were related to Michael Jackson's death.

Jackson Fans Flock to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, iTunes and More

But Twitter also suffered under volume of traffic. The micro-blogging service experienced one of its notorious outages, presenting users with images of the "fail whale" instead of their Twitter feeds. Before Twitter's servers crashed, TweetVolume noted that "Michael Jackson" appeared in more than 66,500 Twitter updates.

"MICHAEL JACKSON CAN NOT DIE! HE'S MICHAEL JACKSON," audreyjana tweeted from Singapore. Then, "I think im gonna cry."

JulianE Angeles from Mayorazgo, Perú, celebrated the beloved artist by posting his favorite Michael Jackson song, the Jackson 5's "Who's Loving You," to his Twitter page.

In Jackson's honor, YouTube spotlighted Jackson's memorable videos on its homepage and linked to the artist's YouTube channel. The channel has garnered more than 9 million views. The "Thriller" video alone has attracted two million and counting.

In Apple's iTunes store, Michael Jackson's music quickly shot into the top 10 charts within a matter of hours.

By Friday afternoon, "Man in the Mirror" claimed the No. 2 spot on the top songs list, with "Thriller," "The Way You Make Me Feel," "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough" and "Smooth Criminal" close behind.

Jackson's music also grabbed nine of the slots on the top 10 albums list on the site, with "The Essential Michael Jackson" in the No. 1 spot.

Full-blown memorial sites, such as and Michael Jackson Memorial, have already been launched and invite fans to post videos, news and messages commemorating his life.

Facebook members, too, paid their respects to the deceased star.

Less than an hour after Jackson's death had been confirmed, more than 500 groups remembering Michael Jackson appeared on Facebook, some with more than 50,000 members. The fan page R.I.P. Michael Jackson (We Miss You) had attracted more than 220,000 fans by midday Friday.

Immediately after hearing reports that Jackson had stopped breathing, Amish Gandhi, a 31-year-old New Yorker, started the group "Michael Jackson RIP." He said it wasn't long before he noticed that about 100 people were joining the group every minute. By Friday afternoon, the group had more than 97,000 members.

"He's an icon of pop music. And there are so many people at a loss today," he said.

As he moved from Africa as a child to India as a teenager and, eventually, to the United States, he said Michael Jackson was a constant. He wanted the Facebook page to celebrate his life, and give fans one central place to exchange messages, share information and mourn.

"I grew up listening to his music," he said. "There's just something about him that no pop icon matches.

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