On the Internet, you can post it instantly and everyone can see it. Entertainment Web site TMZ.com was the first to report that Jackson had died, before the Los Angeles Times.
"I think we had 1,000 comment on our story within minutes," said Mike Walters, TMZ.com's news manager. "That's how fast people could write in."
As fast as news about Michael Jackson's death traveled over TV and radio, it traveled even faster over the Internet.
"I think it was in some case an hour lapse people wanting to broadcast that he had passed away," Walters aid. "This is something that is going to change reporting as we go forward."
New sites were swamped, operating at 10 percent of their normal capacity on Thursday evening.
Google shut down at one point,.
Social media sites were a source of information, rumor, and collective mourning. On Facebook, condolences began appearing within minutes, with some 2 million fans in total on Jackson tribute sties. An average of 100 new friends joined Jackson's MySpace page every minute.
AT&T reported that nearly 65,000 cell phone texts per second were sent at the peak time - more than 60 percent above normal volume.
On YouTube, video tributes also appeared almost instantly - like one from a young break-dancing group in Chicago, or one from a heart broken fan.
At Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, Jackson's entry changed within minutes of the news, from alive, to possibly dead, to dead, to locked from further alterations.
Twitter, a site where users post quick updates, was busy with more than 5,000 tweets per second, as everyone from casual users to celebrities like Lindsay Lohan and Ashton Kutcher shared their thoughts, in 140 characters or less.
With his death, there's also been a spike in online consumption of his most popular songs, at one point Jackson had 7 or the top 10 songs downloaded on Apple's iTunes store.
As the Internet draws a generation of fans for the King of Pop, new media is redefining what it means to share an experience - both alone, and together.
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