The Ice Bucket Challenge and World Cup Brighten Up Google’s 2014 Searches

Google’s 2014 list of the year’s most popular searches has revealed a bit of a bleak year that reflected global fears of Ebola and concerns about ISIS.

Robin Williams, whose untimely passing dominated headlines in summer 2014, was the most searched term both globally and in the U.S., followed by the World Cup. Ebola proved to be a global concern, and the missing Malaysia Airlines flight rounded out the top four searches for the U.S. and the rest of the world.

The mobile game Flappy Bird was the fifth most searched term in the U.S., possibly because the game disappeared from both iTunes and Google Play last February as a result of developer Dong Nguyen’s concerns over what he called “an addictive product.” The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was the fifth most Googled term globally but came in sixth in America.

Celebrities who dominated search this year were Conchita Wurst, who became the first person to ever win the Eurovision contest while wearing drag, along with Jennifer Lawrence, whose nude photo hacking scandal was fodder for global gossip.

In the U.S., searches for athletes had more to do with arrests than with sports. The top two U.S. searches for athletes were for football players Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson, who were both investigated this year for assault. Globally, the World Cup had an impact on which athletes trended in 2014. The most searched athlete was Columbia’s James Rodriguez, whose breakout performance in the FIFA World Cup made him a star.

All in all, Google searches in 2014 reflected grim headlines. Ebola, Ukraine, Ferguson, and ISIS were all heavy on American’s minds. However, a few bright spots, such as Disney’s animated film Frozen, the World Cup, and the Ice Bucket Challenge, which raised millions for the ALS Foundation, seemed to lift the Internet’s spirits in the midst of hard times.

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