Google Thought Michael Jackson Traffic was an Attack

Justin Kerr

Google has confirmed that the error messages people received on Thursday when searching for details of Michael Jackson’s death, was initially perceived as an attack . Searches between 2:45 and 3:15pm were returned with "We're sorry, but your query looks similar to automated requests from a computer virus or spyware application. To protect our users, we can't process your request right now."

The error messages lasted for about 25 minutes on Thursday, just long enough for Google to confirm what was actually going on. The search giant noted that the amount of traffic it saw on this topic was unprecedented, as millions around the world scrambled for accurate information, seemingly all at once. Yahoo has also confirmed that it hit an all-time record for unique visitors with over 16.4 million following the story. This blows away the previous record held by the Obama election day, with a paltry 15.1 million uniques.

The outpouring of sympathy online has been astonishing, and I’m sure Google will learn its lesson on this one.

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