When websites go viral (in terms of high viewership, not actual viruses), that’s a good thing. But one cannot assume that handling the sheer volume of an extreme spike won’t cause problems. Welcome to the risk of becoming so popular that no one can talk to you! When a bad person blocks a website by automating the same concept, it is called a dedicated denial-of-service attack. The difference, of course, is whether you are a victim of sabotage or your own lack of foresight. The last thing you want when business is good is to be doing no business at all, just because you never load tested your site.
On November 8, 2016, many Americans reacted to the thought of a President Trump by going to the Canadian Immigration and Citizenship website and crashing it due to volume, no doubt not bringing relief to those seeking sanctuary. Keeping with politics, on August 31, 2106, Donald Trump’s donation page became unreachable due to heavy volume, stating: “We’re experiencing an unusually high volume of traffic at the moment … It won’t be long so please check back soon.” In the 24 hours after the election, the fundraising page for the ACLU crashed but still registered a >7000% daily jump to $2.4 million from 38,626 contributions, according to ACLU spokesperson Gabriela Melendez. And the Obamacare website, both during its troubled initial launch and shortly before multiple signup deadlines, crashed due to heavy volume. Regardless of your political leaning, the problem for all of these is that websites should be able to handle heavier-than-usual loads, even if the day for a popularity spike is not highly predictable.