When the King of Pop passed away on June 25, almost 4.2 million people from across the globe logged on to news sites to check the news. It was the biggest day on the network of Akami, which delivers 20% of the Internet’s traffic. The second biggest day was July 8 (US standard time) as Michael Jackson’s memorial service was conducted in Los Angeles.
Global web traffic was as high as 33% above normal during the event, with traffic reaching four million visitors per minute. The three biggest centres for all Jackson memorial-related information were Ustream (A video streaming service), Facebook and CNN (who tied up to provide video services along with real-time social networking) and Twitter.
Tributes to the King of Pop accounted for 30 percent of all tweets on Twitter, while a million Facebook users made about 8,00,000 status updates. Twitter struggled a bit with the added load, with availability going down to 20% at one time. This meant that users had to wait for over a minute to log in, as they repeatedly got ‘timed out’ errors.
A lot of analysts and media watchers have dubbed the event as a triumph for the Web, with Mashable’s associate editor Ben Parr saying: "This is more than a turning point. It's about giving users more than one view as well as opportunities to not only be a consumer but a producer. I have seen people with their (phones) recording video and sharing it with the world."
Apart from the slight glitch with Twitter, all the other sites handled the additional load well, demonstrating the feasibility to handle large traffic on the Web as long as there’s some advance notice.
However, not everyone is buying the “Web revolution” story.
"The web gets bragging rights for having broken the story of Michael Jackson's death on the TMZ entertainment site," said Professor Robert Thompson, the director of the Center for Popular Television at Syracuse University. "(But) I don't know of any Web site that was actually there with their cameras covering today’s event. You might have watched on the Web but the pictures were still coming through the traditional pipes provided by television."
On a widely tangential note, isn’t it a bit disconcerting how the world (including us) still calls him Michael Jackson when he officially changed his name to Mikaeel over a year ago? It’s like saying “Former heavyweight champion, Cassius Clay”. Just a thought…