Kim Kardashian attempted to break the Internet a few weeks ago, but(t) failed miserably. But South Korean pop star Psy’s indomitable “Gangnam Style” actually did break the Internet over two years after its release, rendering YouTube’s view counter useless.
The problem, it turns out, was YouTube’s programming code for its view counter, according to a post on YouTube’s Google+ page.
We never thought a video would be watched in numbers greater than a 32-bit integer (=2,147,483,647 views), but that was before we met PSY. “Gangnam Style” has been viewed so many times we have to upgrade!
Hover over the counter in PSY’s video to see a little math magic and stay tuned for bigger and bigger numbers on YouTube.
Basically, Google programmers wrote the code for YouTube’s view counter used a standard 32-bit register, meaning a view count could display anything from 0 to 2 to the 32nd power, or 2,147,483,647. Seems like a fair assumption to make, but no one counted on “Gangnam Style” being the breakaway hit that it was.
If you go to the video and check the view count, it has a nifty rolling view counter that definitely isn’t updating live.