According to Goggle, whose news pages were inaccessible for a time on Thursday night as news of Jackson’s death broke, the search engine at first interpreted the numerous Jackson queries as an attack on its platform.
When news of the iconic performer’s death began trickling out, scores of people turned to the Web for news.
The massive level of interest caused the site to temporarily go down but that did not stop the news spreading via blogs and social networking sites.
Speaking to Channel Web, R.J. Pittman, director of product management for Google, said “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 before finding the articles they were looking for.”
Channel Web said Both Google and Yahoo, the No. 1 and No. 2 search engines in North America confirmed record-breaking search traffic following the Jackson news.
Google reported an unprecedented number of mobile searches, with five of its top 20 searches having to do with Michael Jackson. And Yahoo, in a blog post, confirmed that a story on Yahoo.com about Jackson being rushed to the hospital notched 800,000 hits inside of 10 minutes, with another story confirming the pop icon’s death reaching 560,000 hits in 10 minutes.
Google spokesman Gabriel Stricker, told BBC News online: “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.”
It was around this time that the singer was officially pronounced dead.
Tech radar said Google had trouble recognising the sudden traffic surge for what it was and Google News was so overwhelmed that the engine mistakenly identified the influx as an automated attack, resulting in the standard error page it returns when it believes it is under attack.