The news traveled fast by mobile phone, by Internet, by TV, and even by mouth.
"Someone in our choir group told us, and I'm like, yeah sure, and then I got like five text messages -- he died," said San Jose State student Meagan Duensing.
Google said it hit a peak at 3 p.m. as hunger grew for the latest update on Jackson's condition. The spike was so dramatic, Google thought it was under attack.
"Definitely there was a feeding frenzy," said Shawn White of Keynote Systems.
Yahoo said it logged a record 16.4 million search queries for Michael Jackson, topping the 15.1 million searches done on Inauguration Day in January. Thousands flocked to abc7news.com in the first two hours looking for the latest news and sharing their thoughts.
The demand quickly taxed social network sites like Facebook and Twitter, as well as mainstream news sites.
San Mateo-based Keynote Systems, which measures Internet traffic and speed, saw a slowdown. Most sites usually connect in two seconds. At eight seconds, people get antsy.
"We found that some of those sites took as high as 50 or 60 seconds to load. Basically, you and I would sit there and hit refresh the entire time until we got what we were looking for," said White.
People wanted information on cardiac arrest, the lyrics for popular Jackson songs, and they wanted to buy his music. On Apple's iTunes, nine out of the top 10 albums, six of the top 10 songs, and eight of the top 10 music videos are Michael Jackson.
"It happened so fast everyone just rushed to all sorts of the searches to see what the condition was, the circumstances of his illness, and then of course, looking into his legacy because by the time many of them found out, he had already been declared dead," said Yahoo Buzz senior editor Vera Chan.
And the Internet frenzy surrounding Jackson isn't expected to ease up as people seek final results of the autopsy, the police investigation, and details of a funeral.
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