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The news of Michael Jackson’s cardiac arrest, and subsequent death, caused such a tsunami of searches on Google that the search giant’s system believed that it was under attack, and triggered Google’s attack defense mode, including requiring searchers to solve a CAPTCHA. Searchers searching for information on Michael Jackson were met with an intermediate page which said “Your query looks similar to automated requests from a computer virus or spyware application,” and apologetically asks them to solve the CAPTCHA.
According to Google, the search swell began shortly after the news that Jackson was taken ill, apparently suffering cardiac arrest, and peaked right around the time that he was pronounced dead. People were apparently stopping in their tracks and searching – not even waiting to get to a computer. According to Google, “We saw one of the largest mobile search spikes we’ve ever seen, with 5 of the top 20 searches about the Moonwalker,”, adding that “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.”
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