Internet giant Google said the number of search queries for Michael Jackson was so high following his death that it believed it was under a cyber-attack.
The company wrote in an official blog post last week that “millions and millions” of people searched for news relating to the musician’s death last Thursday.
“The spike in searches related to Michael Jackson was so big that Google News initially mistook it for an automated attack,” Google said.
“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,” it said.
The ‘we’re sorry’ page tells the user their query “looks similar to automated requests from a computer virus or spyware application”. It then requests the user input a series of numbers to prove they are a human user, and not an automated ‘bot’.
The popularity of Jackson’s death was felt elsewhere on the web, with micro-blogging site Twitter suffering to perform at its usual speed. Thousands of ‘tweets’ were recorded per minute following the news of Jackson’s death.
The AOL internet portal said the popular AIM instant messaging service failed for around 40 minutes, while Yahoo! said its news section recorded five times its normal traffic. Its “Michael Jackson rushed to hospital” story received 800,000 ‘clicks’ in 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, demand for Jackson’s records has surged in the past few days, leading some to believe he may posthumously jump to the top of the ARIA charts for the week of his death.
Huge sales are expected after 5 July, when a collection of Jackson’s solo records are to be released, which was designed to coincide with his comeback concerts in London.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Derek Durrant, JB Hi Fi’s national music buyer Derek Durrant, told News.com.au.
“People rushed out and bought everything we had within a few hours of his death. The reaction has been the strongest I’ve ever seen in similar circumstances.”
“We’ve always had reasonable stocks of his material as it’s always sold strongly, but there’s nothing left.”
More stock of DVDs and CDs may not arrive until next week. Meanwhile, even online demand for Jackson’s music is high, with nine of the top 10 selling albums on the Apple iTunes store by the artist.
Seven of the top 10 songs were also by Jackson, as well as the top 15 selling albums on online retailer Amazon.com.
Memorabilia is also seeing huge demand, with online auction house eBay recording over 4000 items registered on Sunday in Australia alone. An autographed guitar was requesting $25,000, while in America, 45,000 items relating to the singer were up for auction.