In 2015, our online behaviour threw up all manner of dubious accolades, questionable trends and, for the most part, dispiriting news stories. Looking back through a year online, it seems, is a bit like looking at the devolution of a species but with emojis and retweets.
We take a look back at 2015 through the filter of internet search.
The year’s most hated
Scarcely a week passed in 2015 without an appropriate pariah being dragged across the coals of public opinion, branded with the anti-accolade of the world’s most hated person. From “pharmabro” Martin Shrelki to cancer-faking blogger Belle Gibson, the public adore a good old-fashioned internet hate campaign.
In 2015 the award of the internet’s most hated person had to go to Walter Palmer, the Minnesotan dentist who paid 50 thousand-odd dollars to kill Cecil, an international superstar lion. Though Palmer quickly apologised, claiming he hadn’t known the lion he hunted was the world-famous Cecil, the inevitable death-threats came flooding in like fan mail and there was a global call for an investigation into hunting for sport.
Most pirated TV show
The dubious honour of 2015’s most illegally streamed show once again goes to the dragon porn blood bath that is Game of Thrones. For the fourth year in succession, Game of Thrones was the most pirated TV show, beating zombie thriller The Walking Dead and The Big Bang Theory.
According to Torrentfreak, the season five climax of Game of Thrones was pirated 14.4m times – more than half of those instances came in the week after its US premiere.
Earlier in 2015, Game of Thrones broke a record when more than 258,000 users shared the show simultaneously.
The most-searched for person
When it comes to the most-searched for person, it’s a straight shootout between the pint-sized Argentinian footballer, Lionel Messi and the ample-derriered, culture-of-celebrity spokeswoman, Kim Kardashian.
Messi earned the accolade of the most-searched for person in 26 different countries in 2015, including Cuba, Chad and the Congo. Kim Kardashian topped the list everywhere from France to New Zealand.
Meanwhile, behind Kim bringing up the rear – ahem – we have more cultural heavyweights, Nicki Minaj and Rhianna, alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, who scooped the prize of most searched for person in 21 countries.
Follow me, please
On Twitter, 2015 saw Katy Perry, Justin Bieber and Barack Obama retain the 1st, 2nd and 3rd spot in Twitter’s ‘most followed’. Squeaking in to first place on Instagram followers is Taylor Swift with 47.7m followers. Swift pips Kim Kardashian (does this woman actually exist, or is she just a collection of arbitrary internet statistics?) to the top spot, as the latter only managed to attract 46.8m followers.
The what, where and when
Putting aside the trolling, the pictures of grumpy cats and the celebrity Instagram accounts, the one thing the internet can be relied upon to answer is the big questions – the why, what and when to which we all need answers. Below are the most ‘W’ questions in 2015:
1 – Where is Mali?
2 -Where is Broadchurch filmed?
3 – Where is San Marino?
4 – Where is Namibia?
5 – Where is Nepal?
1 – When is Easter 2015?
2 – When is the UK eclipse?
3 – When is Pancake Day 2015?
4 – When is Eid 2015?
5 – When is Chinese New Year 2015?
1 – What is a penny black stamp?
2 – What is an exit poll?
3 – Whats is Leavers Lace?
4 – What is 0 divided by 0?
5 – What is a solar eclipse?
Events which broke the internet in 2015
It may very well go down in history as one of the most famous and iconic Vanity Fair covers ever: the Annie Liebowitz pics of Caitlyn Jenner, formerly known as Bruce Jenner, telling her story to the world.
The internet ground to a halt at the news of Bruce’s transformation to Caitlin, with 366 million+ searches. These were the most-searched questions about Jenner:
1 – Who is Caitlyn Jenner?
2 – Who does Caitlyn Jenner look like?
3 – How old is Caitlyn Jenner?
4 – Is Caitlyn Jenner Bruce Jenner?
5 – What do the Kardashians think of Caitlyn?
Was it white and gold, black and blue or blue and brown? It was the viral phenomenon which had us all doubting our eyes. It began when Scottish couple Grace and Keir Johnston asked their mother for a picture of the dress she was planning to wear to their wedding. It ended up generating 73 million searches, almost 50 million more than Iran’s historic nuclear agreement. Sigh…
The most popular searches were:
1 – What color is The Dress?
2 – Is The Dress white and gold?
3 – Is The Dress blue and black?
4 – Why is The Dress different colours?
5 – Where did The Dress come from?
The desperate situation in war-torn Syria saw unprecedented numbers of refugees heading for Europe in 2015. Sombrely, though unfortunately not surprisingly, the migrant crisis split the Internet almost in two as the continuing plight of the refugees was documented online.
Since April 2015, when 5 boats carrying Syrian refuges sank in the Mediterranean on route to Europe with a combined death toll of an estimated 1,200 people, the most-searched phrases in Syria provide a chilling reminder of the desperation facing the Syrian people.
1 – Where is the Aegean Sea?
2 – What sank in the Aegean Sea?
3 – What is the distance to Greece to seek asylum?
4 – Is it advisable to travel on the Aegean?
5 – What is the wave height in the Aegean Sea today?
Paris Terror attacks
On Friday, November 13, a theatre, stadium, restaurant and cafe were attacked by terrorists, and the world scrambled online to find out if friends and family were safe. These coordinated attacks were the deadliest on French soil since World War II.
In the aftermath of the Paris terror attacks, one of the most viewed YouTube clips of 2015 was a man playing John Lennon’s Imagine outside the Bataclan theatre.
The most searched questions in Paris in 2015:
1 – What happened in Paris?
2 – Who were the terrorists?
3 – Who are Eagles of Death Metal?
4 – What is ‘Pray for Paris’?
5 – When is the curfew in Paris?