Google has revealed the top Google searches of 2018, with celebrity deaths second only to the FIFA World Cup. Marvel’s Black Panther sat one place below its creator Stan Lee, with Meghan Markle the only living person to make the top ten this year.
This year saw a number of large-scale data breaches came to light; Russia’s use of social media to meddling in the 2016 United States presidential election was uncovered and the General Data Protection Act came into force. It also blessed consumers with another slight upgrade on last year’s iPhone.
Timeline for US tech giants
In an increasingly digital world, what are the stories that people actually cared about? These are the top tech Google searches of 2018.
Despite the catastrophic decline of the cryptocurrency market throughout 2018, Google users prove that cryptocurrency is far from dead.
Crypto-related searches dominated in the United Kingdom, United States, Canada and Ireland.
Bitcoin is the currency that kicked it all off and remains the most searched (and pricey) cryptocurrency. “What is Bitcoin?” was the most searched ‘what is’ term in both the UK and US this year. It came second in Ireland, behind only “What is blasphemy?”. It was also the second most searched in the consumer tech category in Canada, where it was beaten only by the hit Battle Royale video game Fortnite.
However, while more people might be looking up Bitcoin, those investing in cryptocurrencies are seemingly more interested in Ripple.
“How to buy Ripple” was the fourth most searched ‘how to’ query in the US, as well as the seventh most in the UK. Likewise, Canadians were searching for “How to buy Ripple in Canada?”.
In comparison, “How to buy Bitcoin” came eighth in the same category in the US. It was also the 10th most searched term in the ‘how’ category in Canada, while it failed to make the top ten in the UK.
What is Bitcoin? – UK – 1st – ‘What is’
What is Bitcoin – US – 1st – ‘What is’
What is bitcoin? – Ireland – 2nd – ‘What is’
3 Things That Will Change the World Today
Bitcoin – Canada – 2nd – ‘Consumer tech’
How to buy Ripple – US – 4th – ‘How to’
How to buy Ripple in Canada? – Canada – 6th – ‘How’
How to buy Ripple? – UK – 7th – ‘How to’
How to buy Bitcoin – US – 8th – ‘How to’
How to buy Bitcoin? – Canada – 10th – ‘How’
Two big events dominated social media related searches this year: Facebook failing to protect user data and Snapchat overhauling its user interface.
And, going by Google Trends, people cared more about a Snapchat update than Facebook exposing their personal information to third-party developers and just about anybody that would pay a price to get their hands on it.
“How to get the old Snapchat back” was the fourth and fifth most searched term in the ‘how to’ category in the UK and Ireland respectively. It also came sixth in the same category in the United States.
When they weren’t worrying about how they would view their friends’ Snapchat stories, internet users were busy trying to delete their social media accounts elsewhere.
It was revealed in September that up to 50 million Facebook accounts were left exposed by a security flaw which allowed attackers to gain access to accounts through a vulnerability discovered in the ‘view as’ feature.
That came in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which user data was found to have been exposed and eventually used to manipulate voters in the run up to key political votes.
However, surprisingly, more people were looking to delete their accounts on the Facebook-owned image sharing site Instagram in the UK, which came fifth in the ‘how to’ category. “How to delete Facebook” ranked one place behind in sixth.
Users in Canada were searching for the same thing. “How to delete Facebook” ranked eighth in the ‘how’ category. However, US-based users, who were worst hit by the Cambridge Analytica scandal, seemingly didn’t care as much.
While Snapchat and Facebook dominated, the Vero social media network, which has grown in popularity this year, did get a look in in the UK, where it came 10th in the ‘What is’ category.
How to get old Snapchat back – UK – 4th – ‘How to’
How to get the old Snapchat back? – Ireland – 5th – ‘How to’
How to delete Instagram – UK – 5th – ‘How to’
How to get the old Snapchat back – US – 6th – ‘How to’
How to delete Facebook – UK – 6th – ‘How to’
How to delete Facebook? – Canada – 8th – ‘How’
What is Vero? – UK – 10th – ‘What is’
Despite China entering the Western market, adding a number of new players to Apple and Samsung’s ongoing smartphone war, it was the iPhone market that came out on top this year.
October saw the release of the iPhone XR and iPhone XS, two new variants of the iPhone X device released last year to mark the iPhone’s 10th year.
Despite few upgrades, consumers were still keen to get their hands on the latest handset, particularly in Canada. The iPhone XS, Apple’s most advanced smartphone, came fifth in the ‘consumer tech’ category, closely followed by the budget iPhone XR.
However, with Brexit approaching, money-conscious UK consumers showed more interest in the iPhone XR.
iPhone XS – Canada – 5th – ‘Consumer tech’
Iphone XR – Canada – 6th – ‘Consumer tech’
iPhone XR – UK – 10th – ‘News event’
Given the speculation that the General Data Protection Regulation could potential break the internet for European users when it came into effect in May, people were scrambling to find out what it is and what it means.
“What is GDPR” was the second most searched term in the ‘What is’ category in the UK, as well as the sixth most searched term in the same category in Ireland.
That concern was shared across Europe, with similar terms also high up on the list in different Europe countries. Those in France were searching for RGPD, for example, while DSGVO was frequently searched for in Germany.
What is GDPR? – UK – 2nd – ‘What is’
What is GDPR – Ireland – 6th – ‘What is’
Automatic updates was a feature that caused problems across a range of devices, from smartphone apps automatically downloading and using up valuable data allowances, to Windows breaking itself with an update that it can’t complete. And people in the US and Ireland wanted to know how to switch this feature off in 2018.
“How to turn off automatic updates” was the fifth and sixth most searched term in the ‘How to’ category in the US and Ireland respectively.
Aside from that, those in Ireland were interested in learning more about 8D audio, which seems to be the splitting of sounds through the left and right speakers in a pair of headphones in order to give the impression that different sounds are coming from different places (yes, I had to Google this).
Meanwhile, in the US, people wanted to know what a Yanny Laurel is. Perhaps not a tech term, but a funny internet thing nonetheless.
How to turn off automatic updates – US – 5th – ‘How to’
How to turn off automatic updates – Ireland – 6th – ‘How to’
What is 8d audio – Ireland – 8th – ‘What is’
What is a Yanny Laurel – US – 9th – ‘What is’