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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Spike In Searches For Michael Jackson Misled To Google News As an Automated Attack

News about the death of pop star Michael Jackson broke the heart of millions. It was unbelievable when news was spread over initially on twitter and other sites and initiated a huge traffic for search engines. As word spread of his death, millions and millions of people from all over the world began searching for information about the pop icon. The following chart shows the meteoric rise in related searches around 3:00pm PDT:

Search volume began to increase around 2:00pm, skyrocketed by 3:00pm, and stabilized by about 8:00pm. As you can see in Google Hot Trends, many of the fastest rising search queries from yesterday and today have been about Michael Jackson's passing (others pertained to the death of another cultural icon, Farrah Fawcett). People who weren't near a computer yesterday turned to their mobile phones to check on breaking news. It was one of the largest mobile search spikes, with 5 of the top 20 searches about the Moonwalker.

The spike in searches related to Michael Jackson was so big that Google News initially mistook it for an automated attack. As a result, for about 25 minutes yesterday, when some people searched Google News they saw a "We're sorry" page as shown in below image before finding the articles they were looking for.


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