June 26, 2009: CNN reports that the death of Michael Jackson on June 25 crashed significant portions of the internet. The first several news and gossip sites to post about his death all crashed, Google searches were bogged down, Twitter had to disable its search functions to prevent further crashing, AOL Instant Messenger went down for 40 minutes, etc.
The article also mentions that this prevented efforts by individuals protesting the government of Iran. The protesters use Twitter to organize.
Farah Fawcett also died a few hours prior to Jackson. Online hoaxsters took advantage of the confusion to spread rumors that Harrison Ford and Jeff Goldblum had died as well. Some search engines reported that searches related to Goldblum were the next highest non-Jackson search topic of the day.
Game and Story Use
- Here's a Conspiracy Theory for your game: the hoaxes, and possibly even the death of Jackson, were engineered by the Big Bad Evil Guy for a diabolical reason.
- Perhaps it was the government of Iran trying to disrupt the protests.
- Alternately, it's like the plot of a Die Hard film, with the collapse of the internet being a smokescreen for some huge theft. Fire Sale, anyone?
- This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a celebrity heart attack. Furor and interest in the death of a celebrity, or news of some other tragedy, crashes the communications infrastructure of an entire civilization. Panic over this communications and information collapse leads to secondary tragedies and further collapse. There's a run on the banks. The snowball rolls down hill, and fiscally unstable countries (which is just about all of them, these days) go under. It takes years to rebuild. Some parts of the world never recover. The campaign becomes an After The End scenario. All because of a dead pop star.