Search services struggled following Jackson death

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Twist's data on "Michael Jackson" tweets on June 25.

There were some interesting observations today about the effect of Michael Jackson’s death on search services.

Google reports that interest in the June 25 event was “meteoric.” It led to one of the largest mobile search spikes Google had ever recorded, involving 5 of the top 20 searches that day. The spike in queries was so great that Google News initially mistook the barrage as an automated attack. Its software automatically suspended queries on the topic for 25 minutes, interpreting the requests as a denial of service attack.

A number of users reported that the wave of interest slowed Twitter to a snail’s pace. Twist, a site that tracks trends in Twitter, recorded “Michael Jackson” appearing in a peak of 22.61% of all tweets yesterday. Twitter temporarily disabled search results late in the day. No real surprise there. Service problems at the 2-year old start-up are well known.

Mashable reports that Facebook was actually by far the dominant sharing service for the news. Its data from widget network Clearspring shows that roughly five times as many people who shared a story using its website widget used Facebook than used Twitter. Facebook, of course, has a much larger user base. But Twitter usage received most of the media coverage.

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