“Google reveals most popular online searches of 2020 | World Economic Forum - World Economic Forum” plus 1 more

“Google reveals most popular online searches of 2020 | World Economic Forum - World Economic Forum” plus 1 more

Google reveals most popular online searches of 2020 | World Economic Forum - World Economic Forum

Posted: 22 Dec 2020 12:00 AM PST

  • Billions of Google searches show some topics had a surge of interest in 2020.
  • Many searches reflect global impact of the COVID pandemic.
  • Kobe Bryant, Joe Biden, Zoom, dalgona coffee and fostering a dog are among the most Googled terms.

When times are uncertain, people look for answers. Once our ancestors sought out seers, prophets and mystics. Now we type our queries into search engines.

Google's Year in Search 2020 provides a snapshot of the fears, anxieties, distractions and obsessions of an extraordinary year. Some of our questions are reassuringly similar wherever we are in the world; others illuminate our cultural quirks and differences.

Google has analyzed the billions of search requests it processes every day, and identified the terms that have had the highest spike this year compared to 2019. Unsurprisingly, "coronavirus" topped the overall list.

a list showing the top ten google searches of the year.

Coronavirus dominated this year's top searches.

Image: Google

ABCs to Zoom

The search trends show the impact of the COVID pandemic on so many aspects of life. Relatively obscure teleconferencing company Zoom became a household name (and highly profitable business) as employees adapted to working from home, and friends and families turned to video calls instead of meeting in person.

Google Classroom was one of several online resources that provided education to millions of children affected by school closures. Searches for "how to foster a dog" reached an all-time high as social distancing triggered a yearning for the companionship of a pet.

a chart showing how the number of searches for fostering a dog have risen dramatically this year.

2020 has been a good year for dogs.

Image: Google

Bread dominated the top trending recipes as people trapped indoors during lockdowns became keen amateur bakers - although even sourdough, banana bread and naan couldn't keep up with the booming popularity of Korean dalgona coffee and Greek dessert ekmek kataifi.

Most Googled people

Tom Hanks and Amitabh Bachchan were among the most Googled movie stars not because of their work in 2020, but as high-profile sufferers of the virus.

There were other major news stories that drove big spikes in search traffic. The US elections prompted a flood of queries, with Joe Biden the most trending person (his running mate Kamala Harris also featuring high on the list). Fans reacted in droves to the deaths of NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, actor Chadwick Boseman, and Bollywood heartthrob Sushant Singh Rajput.

The death of George Floyd drew attention to racial injustice. In the US, there was a huge spike in searches asking how to help or donate to Black Lives Matter. The term "how to be an ally" even outstripped the ever popular search "how to be an influencer".

a chart from google searches on how to be a racial ally

The death of George Floyd drew attention to racial injustice and prompted the Black Lives Matter movement.

Image: Google

The growing availability of internet access in India was apparent, with searches for the IPL (Indian Premier League) cricket league, "India vs New Zealand" and the election in the Indian state of Bihar all high on global lists.

In 2018, internet connectivity finally reached over half the world's population. Yet some 3.4 billion people – about 50% of the world's population – are still not online.

Although much progress has been made in closing this digital divide, the challenge remains overwhelming, complex and multidimensional. It requires a collaborative, multistakeholder approach to overcome four key barriers to internet inclusion: infrastructure; affordability; skills, awareness and cultural acceptance; and relevant content.

The World Economic Forum launched Internet for All in 2016 to provide a platform where leaders from government, private-sector, international organizations, non-profit organizations, academia and civil society could come together and develop models of public-private collaboration for internet inclusion globally.

Since its launch, Internet for All has achieved significant on-the-ground results globally - including launching four operational country programmes in Rwanda, South Africa, Argentina and Jordan.

Read more about our results, and ongoing efforts to ensure access to the internet for all in our impact story.

Contact us to partner with the Forum and shape the future of our digital economy.

Our soft spot for an against-the-odds survival story was clearly demonstrated by the huge spike in searches for NASCAR driver Ryan Newman, who walked out of hospital just days after a horrific crash during a race at Daytona.

In a year where entertainment has been at a premium, Oscar-winning Korean film Parasite, Netflix documentary Tiger King, Cardi B's song WAP, and online multiplayer game Among Us all piqued our interest.

DIY trends

And when the businesses we rely on were forced to shut their doors, we looked up how to do things ourselves, from making our own hand sanitizer and face masks, to cutting hair.

But sometimes it is the simplest of answers that we need. April saw a record spike in people asking "what day is it?" In a year when even that is uncertain, we are fortunate that so much knowledge is just a click away.

License and Republishing

Was 'How To Hit a Woman So No One Knows' Googled 163M Times in 2020? - Snopes.com

Posted: 28 Apr 2021 01:29 PM PDT

In late April 2021, social media posts, like the one displayed below, Google users allegedly asked the search engine "how to a hit a woman so now one knows" more often during the first phase of lockdowns to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in 2020 than during the same time frame the previous year.

The claim originated from media sources including Blavity (a Los Angeles-based platform serving Black millennials), UNILAD (a British media outlet), and MSNBC (an American cable network owned by NBC Universal).

We obtained an archived version of an April 26 opinion column by the latter outlet, a piece of commentary that cited peer-reviewed research analyzing Google searches from the beginning of the U.S. COVID-19 outbreak in March 2020 to the end of August that year. The MSNBC article said:

[Millions] of men appear to be doing some very specific research about how to assault the women around them.

Published in The Journal of General Psychology, the study was led by Katerina Standish, the deputy director and senior lecturer at the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Otago in New Zealand. 'How to hit a woman so no one knows' was typed into Google 163 million times, a 31 percent increase compared to 2019.

In other words, Google users purportedly searched "how to hit a woman so no one knows" 163 million times between March and August 2020, and that number was 31 percent higher than the amount of same searches during those months the previous year.

However, that was not true. One day after the MSNBC column published, onlookers identified flaws in the research's methodology, and its author confirmed the findings were inaccurate. As a result, the news outlet removed the above-transcribed section from its article citing the research. (That updated version of the story remained live online as of this writing.)

We looked at Google search data ourselves. By searching the phrase "how to hit a woman so no one knows," the platform produces billions of returns — or websites or posts that contain those keywords. That is not the same as the number of times users searched the question (we explain how to find that quantity below), and it appeared to grow significantly after the MSNBC article and other media coverage.

By using the separate Google Trends search engine — a tool that compiles data for Google search queries worldwide — we learned that relatively no one used the website to look for information on "how to hit a woman so no one knows," including during the time window referenced in the study (March to August 2020).

Next, to fully explore the issue, we reached out to Standish (the author of the study called, "COVID-19, suicide, and femicide: Rapid Research using Google search phrase") to learn about her research process and its shortcomings.

She responded to us via email, saying she indeed mistook the amount of search returns for the number of times Google users entered the phrase looking for answers. After the revelation, she said she alerted The Journal of General Psychology of the error and requested an assessment of the entire study.

"The results are meaningless … all I have done is demonstrate a rise in web pages over the year. Not at all what I thought I was doing," Standish said. "[The] goal of the study was to look for people who were hurting to elevate what they are going through and to help."

Additionally, Standish apologized for the research's flaws on Twitter:


"The first time I googled these terms my heart skipped…I was shocked," she continued in a tweet thread. "I sincerely apologise and will make amends."

In sum, we rate this claim "false" — millions of people, presumably men, did not turn to Google for help to seemingly conceal physical abuse against their female partners during the early months of the pandemic.

If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse from an intimate partner, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or text LOVEIS to 22522 for anonymous, confidential help.


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