In 2014, Facebook users celebrated athletic triumphs, mourned the loss of friends and celebrities, and discussed divisive issues online — sharing, liking, and commenting to make their voices heard. This year's figures showed users' proclivity toward giving, a change from last year's trending topics.
Among the most discussed this year were elections in Brazil and the conflict in Gaza, according to figures released by the California-based company on Tuesday morning.
The World Cup was the most discussed topic this year, attracting more than 350 million users to the global conversation.
But while Facebook users love to talk sports — the Super Bowl and the Sochi Olympics ranked eighth and 10th this year, respectively — many other users used the social media service to give and to grieve this year.
The Ebola virus outbreak ranked second on this year’s global list. Popular Facebook posts from UNICEF and Barack Obama urged readers to help save lives.
Facebook’s “Fight Ebola” launch page, which pointed readers toward the International Medical Corps and the American Red Cross, among other organizations, racked up 355,000 shares on the site.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg donated $25 million toward efforts to stop the disease, the Associated Press reported.
And coming in fifth was the Ice Bucket Challenge, a viral campaign that brought more than $100 million in donations to the ALS association. Celebrities and politicians took the “challenge” — donate to the charity or dump a bucket of ice-cold water over your head, or both. (In the US ranking, the Ice Bucket Challenge came in second, just behind Ebola.) The US, Australia, and New Zealand were the top three participating countries, according to Facebook’s data.
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, told the Associated Press that the Ice Bucket Challenge brought Facebook video content in to the mainstream for users.
"I think the Ice Bucket Challenge was the first time a lot of people realized you could shoot a video and share it," she said.
New data show that Facebook’s share of video posts uploaded directly to Facebook overtook video giant YouTube’s videos posted on Facebook for the first time, Business Insider reported.
Millions of users, including celebrities, also took to Facebook to mourn the death of comedian Robin Williams, as well as grapple with the disappearance of one Malaysian Airlines flight and the fatal crash of another. Robin Williams was the fourth-ranked topic; Malaysia Airlines, seventh.
A 2013 article published in The Information Society found that social networking sites have increasingly become “unanticipated memorial spaces that can serve as archives of the lives of the deceased and social spaced for the bereaved.” The research, titled “Beyond the Grave: Facebook as a Site for the Expansion of Death and Mourning,” used interviews to allow discussion of online bereavement.
Two waves of global attention hit Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014: one, when black teenager Michael Brown was shot by white police officer Darren Wilson in August; the other, when Mr. Wilson was not indicted by a grand jury late last month.
Many expressed outrage with the decision, protesting across the nation, while others debated the evidence released to the grand jury in its investigation. A conversation about race relations in the US erupted across Facebook news feeds.
The top global topics of 2014:
1. World Cup
2. Ebola virus outbreak
3. Elections in Brazil
4. Robin Williams
5. Ice Bucket Challenge
6. Conflict in Gaza
7. Malaysia Airlines
8. Super Bowl
9. Michael Brown/Ferguson
10. Sochi Winter Olympics
The US list:
1. Ebola virus outbreak
2. Ice Bucket Challenge
3. Robin Williams
4. Super Bowl
5. Michael Brown/Ferguson
6. World Cup
7. Conflict in Gaza
8. US midterm elections
9. Malaysia Airlines