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Michael Jackson, King of the Web

AP Photo / Doug Pizac / Saxon

One year after his death, the king of pop is as popular as ever.

It’s fitting that first broke the story of Michael Jackson's death. The event became the first high-profile death since the rise of social media and played out largely over the internet.

Rumors circulated online a full two hours before many traditional media outlets confirmed Jackson’s death. As the news spread, Google received so many “Michael Jackson” queries it assumed it was under automated attack, and returned error messages. Twitter crashed completely, twice. When it recovered, fully 22 percent of tweets were about Jackson and he occupied every slot on their trending topics.

One year after his death, Michael Jackson is as popular as ever online., which measures social media metrics, places Jackson as the No. 3 most popular figure across the leading social media platforms. Thirteen million people “like” his official Facebook fan page. There are more than 400 Facebook tribute groups, including one called “One Million Michael Jackson Fans Pledged to Light a Candle on June 25, 2010” (the name is a bit ambitious – only 14,000 have joined the group).

650,000 people have written tributes at His Guest Book at features some 24,000 entries. On the anniversary of his death, he occupies 2 of the top 20 most-searched terms on Google. He appears twice in today’s trending topics on Twitter. Half a million people are subscribed to his official YouTube channel.

And 77 million have watched this video online.