The month of love was filled with controversies played out in the public sphere – from the Oscars to those closer to home, like news about Grant Hackett and the use of MSG on My Kitchen Rules.
Grant Hackett’s unfortunate and highly publicised fall from grace hasn’t been lost on Google users. The two most popular related queries sum up his recent ordeals sufficiently, those being ‘Grant Hackett missing’ and ‘Grant Hackett arrested’. Somewhat curiously, other popular related searches included ‘Grant Hackett Instagram’ and ‘Grant Hackett net worth’. Searches spiked on 16 February, the day of his arrest at his parents’ Gold Coast home. Internet users all over the country were interested in keeping a close eye on the story as it unfolded, with Googlers in Brisbane particularly concerned with keeping up with any news.
Valentine’s Day was the most popular topic in February among Facebookers, with the annual celebration of love resonating the most with younger women. Sharing self-deprecating memes and photos of flowers and gifts received on the day from significant others were prevalent conversation points.
MSG/MY KITCHEN RULES
The episode of My Kitchen Rules that aired on 22 February, where contestants Caitie and Demi used MSG in one of their dishes, caused quite a stir among the MKR audience (who evidently also happen to be avid users of Google). The incident was portrayed in the promos for the show on a grand scale as the slip-up to end all slip-ups, and by the time the episode aired had sent viewers flocking to Google in search of answers. Questions like ‘why is MSG bad’, ‘what’s MSG’ and ‘what is MSG made from’ became some of the top related queries. However, some people just wanted to stick strictly to MSG as it related to the show, searching instead for ‘MSG controversy’, ‘MSG controversy MKR’ and, simply, ‘MSG MKR’.
February was a popular month to talk about musicians and concerts on Facebook, as Guns N’ Roses, Ed Sheeran and Lady Gaga were all trending topics, particularly among younger men and women. The Gunners and Ed Sheeran both performed in Australia in February while Lady Gaga remained a popular talking point due to her headlining performance at the Super Bowl halftime show.
The 89th annual Academy Awards became one of the most popular topics on Google in February as the highly publicised Best Picture debacle made waves across the Internet. La La Land was announced as Best Picture when the honour should have gone to Moonlight, and the fiasco that ensued quickly became a top news story shared across the Internet. Related terms like ‘Oscars Best Picture 2017’ and ‘who won the Oscars 2017’ were popular. The glamorous fashion on the red carpet was also a common search query.
Politics are never far from discussions on social media, and February on Facebook was no exception. Australian politicians Jacqui Lambie and Cory Bernardi were talked about predominantly among men, as was the Australian Liberal Party; meanwhile Canada’s much-loved Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was a hot topic among women on Facebook.
Education portals and learning games became all the rage in February as school returned and teachers utilised digital technologies to help teach their students. Google Classroom, Mathletics, Kahoot and Studyladder were all in the top search queries for the month, and each term displayed peaks during the school week and dips on the weekends. Students and teachers in Adelaide, Canberra and Cairns showed the most interest in using the programs.
Ashton Kutcher’s work with his anti-trafficking foundation Thorn: Digital Defenders of Children gained traction with Facebook users in February, predominantly among women. Kutcher gave an emotional testimony in a U.S. Senate hearing on ending modern slavery and human trafficking, which was shared across Facebook.
WHITE NIGHT MELBOURNE
Melbourne’s annual cultural event of the year and all-night party returned on 18 February, and with it came a barrage of Melbournians on Google seeking out information on the scheduled events and maps. From dusk ‘til dawn, the city of Melbourne was lit up with the work and performances of artists and musicians, as well as exhibitions, film, dance, interactive events and, of course, lighting installations. Commuters on the day also sought out information on road closures.