Jackson death prompts malware alert at Google

Summary:The spike in searches related to Michael Jackson was so 'volcanic' that it triggered an anti-malware mechanism at Google, the company says

The breaking news of Michael Jackson's death on Thursday triggered an alert at Google over a potential malware attack.

As reports began to circulate, first of Jackson's hospitalisation, then of his death, some people searching for news on Google found themselves looking at a page that said: "We're sorry, but your query looks similar to automated requests from a computer virus or spyware application."

The page asked users to enter a Captcha code in order to continue their searches.

"When you get huge volumes of searches, an interstitial page comes up to make sure we aren't coming under attack," a spokesman for the company told ZDNet UK on Friday. "The volumes searching for Michael Jackson during the night were such that a page did come up, and it slowed things down for a short period."

Asked how the volume of searches compared with other breaking-news events, Google's spokesman described the spike as "volcanic" — the term used in the Google Trends labs project to define the highest level of search volumes.

"This is one of the biggest [spikes] we've seen in recent times," the spokesman said.

Google malware alert over Michael Jackson's death

The interstitial page delivered by Google to some people searching for news on Michael Jackson's death.

Topics: Networking


David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't be paying many bills. His early journalistic career was spent in general news, working behind the scenes for BBC radio and on-air as a newsreader for independent stations. David's main focus is on communications, of both... Full Bio

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