TORONTO – After dissecting the more than 40 billion queries submitted throughout 2013, Google Canada has declared Toronto’s notorious Mayor Rob Ford as search term of the year.
While Facebook was the absolute top search of the year — as it has been for several years running — Ford topped Google’s so-called trending list, representing the search terms that stood out most compared to previous web history.
Ford was followed by the late Canadian “Glee” actor Cory Monteith, who died of an overdose in July; “Fast and the Furious” actor Paul Walker, who was killed in a car crash last month; murder victim Tim Bosma; and the Boston marathon.
Nelson Mandela, royal baby, North Korea, the Harlem Shake dance craze, and Lac-Megantic rounded out the Top 10 list.
“Clearly we were engaged in Toronto’s municipal politics,” said Google Canada spokesman Aaron Brindle of Ford’s search count.
“When we look at searches for Rob Ford we saw search activity spike back in the early spring and then again in November and this was national and in some ways international in scope.”
While Ford didn’t make Google’s Top 10 trending list in the U.S., he was an honorary mention.
Google compiled a list of the trending male politicians based on American web searches and Ford was sixth on the list, behind Nelson Mandela, Ted Cruz, Barack Obama, Hugo Chavez and Rand Paul, but ahead of Kim Jong Un, John Kerry, John F. Kennedy and Joe Biden.
Other trending searches in 2013 for Canadian people included Chris Hadfield, Rehtaeh Parsons, Rita MacNeil, Jarome Iginla, Stompin’ Tom Connors, Alice Munro and Alan Thicke. While Thicke generated the fewest headlines of the other Canadians on the list, his son Robin had a massive hit with “Blurred Lines” and he frequently found himself being asked about the tune’s risque video.
Robin Thicke was the top trending musician, ahead of Miley Cyrus, Justin Timberlake, Lorde, Lou Reed, Macklemore, Bruno Mars, Beyonce, Daft Punk and Eminem.
One of the most interesting annual lists Google releases is a countdown of trending “what is” searches, which reveals what topics web searchers were keen to learn more about.
“What is twerking” topped the list, and the provocative dance was also the No. 1 “how to” search. Fracking was second on the “what is” list, followed by ricin, bbm, molly, bitcoin, Monsanto, Snapchat, EPO and DOMA.
In federal politics, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau got the most searches, followed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Sen. Mike Duffy, Sen. Pamela Wallin and former astronaut turned MP Marc Garneau. NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair was tenth.
As much as Canadians couldn’t get enough of Ford’s antics, he still wasn’t the absolute most searched for person of the year.
“You can’t best the Biebs,” joked Brindle, referring to pop star Justin Bieber’s top ranking among people searched for in Canada in 2013.