5 Things That Literally Broke the Internet

Oh no, my livelihood
5 Things That Literally Broke the Internet

The phrase “break the internet” is bandied about with wild abandon these days. The original one, as far as I can tell, comes from Kim Kardashians famous nude photo shoot for Paper magazine. 

It's a funny goal to set, especially for the publications that most often use it, as if whatever is posted actually did break the internet, it would be a nightmare for their revenue. “We did it, sir — and as a direct result, the ad revenue on not only the piece in question, but for our entire website has been completely eliminated!” There are times, though, when the phrase has been accurate for huge groups of people. It also turns out that it doesnt always take that much, even if we like to think of the internet as practically an airborne form of omniscience these days.

Here are five times the internet was well and truly broken.

Scrapper Cuts Off Armenia s Internet


Honestly, with precious metal prices rising and wages stagnant, Im not so sure scrapping seems like a bad gig these days. Sunlight, fresh air, a real concrete sense of accomplishment coming from the amount of copper youre able to pull out of an abandoned building? There are worse ways to make a living. One very important thing to watch out for, though, is cutting through live cables. First of all, because you might become a wet, oddly shaped conductor yourself. Second, because you might accidentally take down the internet for most of Armenia. Even worse, the woman who did so, did it from outside of Armenia. An elderly scrapper was copper-hunting when she chopped an underground cable neatly in twain with her shovel, instantly sending roughly 3.2 million people offline.

Unplugged Power Supply Cripples a Whole Airline


Theres enough of a rats nest under most people’s computer desks that a rogue foot shutting down your entire workspace isnt unheard of. If that workspace is instead the data center for an entire international airline company, though, it might be in your best interest to have some redundancies baked in. At the very least, maybe British Airways could have blu-tacked a note above the outlet with a firm, but polite request to make sure this particular plug isnt removed. All solutions clear in hindsight after a contractor unplugged a power supply in 2017 and took the entirety of the airlines computer systems, which left 75,000 travelers stranded about the globe. To be honest, though, “somebody unplugged something and our whole system is down” isnt even the worst excuse Ive been given by a gate agent.

Michael Jackson s Death

Clotee Pridgen Allochuku

Your opinions and moral stance on the life and times of Michael Jackson are not something I care to get into, because I dont want some superfan moonwalking to my apartment with a gun. But one thing is certain, regardless of your opinion, when you heard he died, you definitely wanted to know if it was bullshit. So did everyone else, and they all tried to access the usual avenues of information at once. Twitter, Wikipedia and TMZ all crashed due to the swell of traffic looking for info on Jacksons death. In fact, there were so many Google searches about it, so quickly, that Google briefly thought it was a DDoS and limited the late singer's name as a search term.

Protests in Egypt


Not all widespread internet outages are the result of happenstance or an unfortunate oopsie-daisy. Some are terrifying demonstrations of a governments power. The argument about whether the internet should be considered a basic need at this point is a hot one, with Finland even making access a legal right. Realizing that a country can just shut the whole thing down if they dont like how people are behaving, like they did during the protests of the Arab Spring in Egypt in 2011, should make it even more compelling. Sever the water lines and the U.N. is in your inbox. Sever the inbox and… nobodys sure if you're allowed to do that?



In a much more wholesome way, the solar eclipse only a couple days ago broke the internet in its own way. According to PCMag and Cloudflare, internet activity along the path of totality in the United States dropped by as much as 60 percent in some states. Turns out it only takes an incredibly rare, awe-inducing celestial event to get everybody to touch grass — or look to the sky.

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