Raging bushfires that took lives and caused a billion dollars in damages as they horrifically scorched the face of Australia for decades to come, dominated searches on Google in 2019.
As the fires intensified to destroy an estimated 3.5 million hectares of rural and urban properties, the “Fires Near Me” app became the overall top choice for the year as users chased the latest news of the advancement of the flames and the availability of escape routes.
After the fires, tradition re-established itself on the Google overall inquiries list with sporting events taking over as popular subjects for information.
The Rugby Union World Cup was in second place overall behind the fires, despite Australia’s disappointing performance, with the Cricket World Cup in third place.
Sporting individuals were also prominent in searches, with Australia’s newest tennis queen Ash Barty taking top spot on the list of most searched Australian figures after winning the French Open to jump to number one in the world rankings.
Israel Folau, the rugby union playing Christianity advocate, whose religious opinions caused him to be suspended as a player and get caught up in extensive legal complexities, was also in the top five . Prime Minister Scott Morrison was fifth in the searches for information about Australians.
Google’s current affairs searches were dominated by politics with “Election Results Australia 2019” at number one.
The Australian elections were followed in the top five of current affairs searches by the mass shootings in Christchurch, the NSW fires, Cyclone Oma and the terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka.
The news section of Google searches was dominated by the Federal elections as users followed the startling result of Scott Morrison becoming Prime Minister in defiance of pessimistic media opinion polls saying he would lose.
It was not the only political anomaly in Google’s statistics for the 2019.
A state election in NSW and the Federal election made politics a constant subject and dominated the “How to” category at Google.
“How to vote” was the most asked question on Google as voters wrestled with the complex regulations and extensive voting papers.
Ironically “How to vote Labor 2019” came in at number three, despite losing both the Federal and State election.
‘How to vote Liberal 2019’’ was number four.
Google’s “why is” category was dominated by pop star Madonna.
Users wanted to know why she was wearing an eye patch at Eurovision 2019. The answer was that she was channeling a fierce female secret agent who had been wounded in one eye performing her duty.
The second most popular search was to as fires raged in South America “why is the Amazon burning?”
Why is Australia Day on the 26th ? took third place.
Enough Australians, probably dominated by Victorians, thought enough of the trendy Press Club restaurant in Melbourne to ask Google why it was closing and fill fourth place.
Sporting inquiries to Google in 2019 were clear cut but debatable. The Rugby Union World Cup topped the list but cricket in its various forms filled three of the five spots with the Cricket World Cup, Cricket Australia and the Australia v Pakistan series all winning places. The FIBA World Cup was three.