Web usage spiked on Thursday as people looked for news of the U.S. Airways jet that went down in New York's Hudson River.
Shortly before 5 p.m. EST, Akamai, which has assembled a content delivery network used by many global news organizations such as CNN, CBS, NBC, Reuters, and the BBC, reported a huge spike in Internet usage as people looked for news and video of the event.
The crash now ranks as the seventh biggest Internet news event since Akamai started tracking spikes in traffic in 2005. The plane crash, which miraculously resulted in no fatalities or serious injuries, ranks just ahead of the post-Election Day 2008 coverage.
Election night 2008, when Barack Obama was elected the 44th president of the United States, had the biggest spike in Internet usage. Over 8 million visitors per minute went online on November 4, Akamai's data shows. About 4.9 million visitors per minute were clicking on Web sites after the U.S. Airways crash landing.
Akamai is expecting a record-breaking spike in Net traffic on Tuesday when President-elect Obama becomes the first African-American to be president of the U.S.
Of course, my colleague Charles Cooper thinks all this hoopla made over keeping score of which news events elicit the most activity in the virtual world is silly. Check out his contrarian view of these virtual reactions in his latest column.