We've all heard the term, but what does it really mean when something "goes viral?"
A commonly accepted definition is that something becomes extremely popular in a very short amount of time.
That qualifies the article on the Bakersfield man who died following an apparent beating by Kern County law enforcement officers as having officially "gone viral."
It's a pretty good indicator of that since the company that runs our online content management system sent us an "urgent" notice of excessive bandwidth use.
We watch the online traffic numbers throughout the day and make adjustments to the home page, so we knew the story was skyrocketing to the top last week.
Friday afternoon, Web Editor Christine Peterson saw that Friday's story ("Dad who died during arrest 'begged for his life'; witness videos seized") had garnered several thousand page views more than the rest of the articles online.
By the end of the day, that article had been viewed 198,699 times.
That's pretty amazing considering our top story each day normally generates about 1,000 page views.
Where was all this traffic coming from?
At that time, the article was liked on Facebook by more than 6,000 readers and tweeted out more than 200 times. But that wasn't enough to generate those numbers in less than 24 hours.
It didn't take long to find the answer in Google Analytics.
This article made the front page of Reddit.
That's a pretty big deal, considering it takes A LOT of votes from readers to make that happen.
For those who don't know, Reddit (Reddit.com) is basically a source for what's new and trending online. Users provide the content and vote on what's good and what's not.
Links with the most votes move to the top, so the front page is constantly changing.
By Friday night more than 99,000 pageviews came from Reddit. It was the No. 1 referring source for that story by more than 60,000 pageviews.
And that trend didn't slow down over the weekend.
By Monday morning, Friday's article totaled 350,094 pageviews, with 157,847 coming from Reddit.
And those are just the number of people who clicked the link and came to our site to read the article.
The four main articles published on this incident as of Monday afternoon have garnered a total of 65 reader comments of BakersfieldCalifornian.com.
Aside from that, there is an intense discussion happening on Reddit, with 2,341 comments there as of Monday morning.
That's impressive considering that we received 459 pageviews total from Reddit in the month of April.
Facebook and Facebook Mobile were No. 3 & 4 respectively as far as referring sources for this story, and Twitter came in at No. 5 with 16,462 pageviews.
Also worth noting, a large chunk of traffic on that story comes from SteveQuayle.com, a site belonging to a self-proclaimed "nationally known radio host, photographer and author."
Also in the top 10 is AboveTopSecret.com. That site says they are the "Internet's largest and most popular discussion board community dedicated to the intelligent exchange of ideas and debate on a wide range of 'alternative topics' such as conspiracies, UFO's, paranormal, secret societies, political scandals, new world order, terrorism, and dozens of related topics."
The analytics are telling us that this isn't just a local interest piece. The majority of pageviews on Friday's story aren't coming from Kern County, but from New York City.
San Francisco and Los Angeles are next. Bakersfield is coming in at No. 7 on that list.
And let's not overlook the 32,000 pageviews from Europe.
On a day-to-day basis, a majority of traffic comes from Bakersfield, so it's interesting to see that this incident is gaining national -- and international -- attention.
Video on phones
A chunk of the comments on Reddit center around the video on the witnesses' phones.
Why didn't the users send it to someone right away or uploaded to someplace so it would be preserved?
Redditors (that's what Reddit users are called) were quick to advise with Dropbox and YouTube Capture as quick and easy ways to record and store video off the phone. Services like those and Google+, Qik and Picassa will automatically upload your photos and video to the clould as soon as they are taken.
One Redditor alerted everyone to the Police Tape app that is available for free for iOS and Android phones.
The app comes from the American Civil Liberties Union in New Jersey and "allows people to securely and discreetly record and store interactions with police, as well as provide legal information about citizens' rights when interacting with the police."
The Police Tape sends the recording to the ACLU with a touch of one button.
A tech story came up last week that while unrelated to this incident, definitely has some implications.
It seems that law enforcement agencies across the county are looking to Apple to help them get data off encrypted phones they've seized.
No agency has the know-how or the resources to do it, and there is a waiting list several months long to get Apple's help in decrypting them.
On the other side of this security dilemma, iOS6 is said to be so secure that the government is considering allowing Pentagon employees to use iPhones.
You can find links to the articles mentioned here at Facebook.com/JamieButow2.