Google Zeitgeist and Facebook ‘Year In Review” Show Top Web Trends For 2012

We’ve already seen Twitter coming out early with its own list of top trends, and now both Google and Facebook have come up with their own takes on our online activity over the last 12 months, with the release of this year’s Google Zeitgeist and Facebook’s new ‘Year in Review’ feature.

Google’s 12th Annual Zeitgeist

First up was Google, who released its 12th annual Zeitgeist yesterday afternoon – and surprised many by announcing that the late Whitney Houston topped the list for the most searches in 2012, beating internet phenomenon “Gangnam Style” down into second place, with “Hurricane Sandy” only coming third.

It seems that Houston’s untimely death last February resonated among her fans for the remainder of the year. Following an explosion of searches for new of “Whitney Houston” immediately after her passing was announced, the singer’s name consistently ranked as one of Google’s most searched-for terms for the rest of the year.

“While there are perennial themes – ‘what is love?’ topped the list in ten countries – it’s the unusual and surprising that caught our attention in 2012,” said Google’s Amit Singhal in the official Google Blog.

“Gangnam Style” also caught our imagination, but for entirely different reasons with millions of netizens getting carried away by the global craze for the K-Pop sensation, who also attracted a world-record 930 million views on YouTube.

Whitney Houston topped the list of most searched-for people in 2012

Google Zetgeist has been an annual fixture since its inception back in 2001, and provides us some revealing insights into the hottest topics that people have been searching for. While its usually people who top the list, events such as natural disasters are never too far away either – hence it’s no surprise that “Hurricane Sandy” landed up in third place.

Another name to attract our attention was “Kate Middleton”, AKA the Duchess of Cambridge, whose popularity these days seems to be echoing that of the late Princess Diana. Kate came in sixth overall as the most searched-for ‘thing’ on the web, and the second-most searched for person overall. Interestingly enough, Princess Kate also figured in Google’s list of top trending events, with the search term “Kate Middleton pictures released” coming in second place just behind Sandy. Whether or not that’s the wedding pictures or the topless ones taken by a French magazine earlier this year is anyone’s guess…

Facebook Year in Review

Google wasn’t the only one in a nostalgic mood – Facebook surprised us all with the release of its own “Year in Review”, and as well as the expected summation of everything trendy on the world’s most popular social site, it also came up with something unique – tailored, personal ‘Years in Review’ for each and every Facebook user.

To see your own ‘Year in Review’, simply sign into Facebook and go to the following URL  Facebook.com/yearinreview where you’ll be presented with a list of the top twenty moments from your ‘Facebook life’ over the past year. Essentially it’s just a quick recap of your most popular comments, photos and so on, with the odd event thrown in such as a new job or getting married. It’s unlikely that you’ll find too many surprises, but nevertheless it’s a pleasant enough walk down memory lane, most especially for avid Facebook fans.

What is more surprising – and I don’t know whether or not Facebook did this intentionally – is that it’s also possible to view other people’s highlights as well. Take Mark Zuckerberg for example https://www.facebook.com/yearinreview/zuck.

A sneak peek of my very own ‘Year in Review’, courtesy of Facebook

Notice how I just added “/zuck” to the end of the URL? Well, you can do the exact same thing for any profile on Facebook – if you’re bored enough or creepy enough to want to actually stalk people, that is.

I haven’t tried searching for anyone whose profile is inaccessible to those who aren’t friends, simply because I gave up trying to find someone after two minutes (sorry, busy!) but I would presume that Facebook has at least disabled this feature for those who don’t want their activity to be seen by others. Do let us know should you find that’s not the case!

About Mike Wheatley

Mike loves to talk about Big Data, the Internet of Things, Hacktivists and hacking, but he also hates Google and can never resist having a quick dig at them should the opportunity arise :) Got a REAL news story or tip? Email Mike@SiliconANGLE.com.