Gossip site TMZ.com had broken the news that Jackson had suffered a cardiac arrest. The King of Pop's passing sparked a traffic surge across the Web that temporarily caused sites including Google News and Twitter to go down temporarily Thursday afternoon as servers were overwhelmed with the sudden spike in use volume.
Online discussions of Jackson far outpaced those of the swine flu scare as well as the inauguration of President Obama, according to Nielsen Buzzmetrics. An analysis the service released Friday showed that more than 16% of tweets over the prior 24 hours mentioned Michael Jackson, easily surpassing the proportion of those referring to Farrah Fawcett, who also died Thursday, and Iran. --Mark Walsh