The internet suffered a number of slowdowns as people the world over rushed to verify accounts of Michael Jackson's death.
Search giant Google confirmed to the BBC that when the news first broke it feared it was under attack.
Millions of people who Googled the star's name were greeted with an error page rather than a list of results.
It warned users "your query looks similar to automated requests from a computer virus or spyware application".
"It's true that between approximately 2.40PM Pacific and 3.15PM Pacific, some Google News users experienced difficulty accessing search results for queries related to Michael Jackson and saw the error page," said Google spokesman Gabriel Stricker.
It was around this time that the singer was officially pronounced dead.