Inauguration triggers tidal wave of Net traffic
The inauguration of US President Barack Obama triggered a huge increase in news, social and portals traffic, a 54 per cent above normal worldwide and 60 per cent higher in North America.
Millions around the world commented, Twittered and posted, creating an extremely busy day for online media and social networking sites such as Facebook and Flikr.
Essentially every major news outlet offered live feeds on their websites on Tuesday in what was potentially the most web-driven coverage of a significant news event yet.
The major news portals all streamed the festivities, some with video embedded right on their home page for the first time. Those included Yahoo.com, CNN.com, MSNBC.com, AOL News, The New York Times, ABC.com, CBS.com, Fox.com and WashingtonPost.com.
Akamai Technologies, which specialises in assuring that websites don't crash under the weight of heavy online traffic, saw digital content streaming surge to record levels of more than two terabytes of data per second.
Akamai said its EdgePlatform was streaming more than seven million video feeds, most of them live, at points during Obama's acceptance speech.
During the inauguration, the number of Haiku-style updates fired off by users of Twitter leapt fivefold, the micro-blogging service said.
Social-networking website Facebook said the rate of profile page updates surged. An average of 4,000 users updated their status every minute peaking at an unprecedented 8,500 per minute during Obama's speech.
Facebook and CNN had teamed together to let viewers post comments or other updates to their social network pages while watching the news organisation's online broadcast of the inauguration.
CNN reported that nearly 14 million people tuned in to the proceedings through its live web video feed, easily topping its previous record of 5.3 million hits set on election night in November.
In total, Facebook reported 1.5 million status updates through the CNN portal alone. A contributing factor to the online popularity of the inauguration was likely that the swearing-in of Obama took place when many people in the United States were at work with computers and high-speed internet, combined with it being 11am on a Tuesday, when the American East Coast was in the office, the West Coast getting to work and Europe home online.
Obama's official Facebook fan page received a deluge of visitors, pushing the number of fans on his profile to more than four million and swelling the comment section to more than half a million posts.
His MySpace page now features more than one million "friends".
By last night, more than 40,000 photos of the events on Capitol Hill tagged with the word "inauguration" were posted to Yahoo's photo-sharing site, Flikr.
The frenzy was not reported without dangers. Hackers were using dozens of fake websites linked to Obama's inauguration to spread a virus on the internet, Panda Security warned. More than 70 websites were running a fraud news story titled "Barack Obama has refused to be a president", aimed at tricking internet users into downloading the computer virus, according to Panda.
It said the cyber attack appeared to have originated in China, based on analysis of the website domain names, which were all bought by a Chinese company linked to previous cyber attacks.
In India, messages of hope flooded the website of NDTV, one of the country's top television channels airing the proceedings live on the internet.
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