Edward Snowden doesn’t show up once in Google’s list of top 2013 searches

December 17, 2013

(AP Photo)

This year's National Security Agency revelations have created a firestorm of reports and debates about the state of U.S. surveillance technology and intelligence policy. It set off a brief international manhunt. Entire countries are now building countermeasures to deflect the NSA's gaze. But at least in the eyes of Google, Edward Snowden was hardly a blip on the radar. The search giant's global year-in-review is topped by Nelson Mandela, followed by the late actor Paul Walker and the iPhone 5S. Snowden doesn't make an appearance. Okay, the iPhone and the Harlem Shake might be skewing the results. What if we just limited it to people? Still no luck. Oscar Pistorius, the South African athlete under investigation for his girlfriend's murder, ranked higher than Snowden. Maybe "Snowden" is a little too specific. What if we broadened the query to "NSA" or "surveillance" or "spying"? The same pattern will repeat itself if you drill down to U.S.-specific searches. Here's what trends in Washington, D.C. — arguably the city most preoccupied with Snowden this year — looked like, as provided by a Google spokesperson:


While the details of the Snowden saga may have gripped civil liberties advocates and Internet policy types — and although Snowden himself clearly thinks he's still a major subject of debate — the rest of the world seems to think otherwise.

Brian Fung covers technology for The Washington Post.
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Brian Fung · December 17, 2013