The following were among the most widely searched phrases in nine countries and one territory.
The most widely searched “How to” topic in Australia this year was “How to opt-out of my health record,” a reference to the country’s centralized digital health record system. Other popular search phrases: “How to delete Instagram”; “What is listeria” (a reference to a deadly outbreak of the germ tied to tainted food); “What is ligma” — a reference to a fictional disease; and “Why is it called Good Friday.”
The most widely searched Canadian news event in the country was “Humboldt Broncos,” a reference to the junior ice hockey team that was involved in an April vehicle crash that killed 16 people and injured more than a dozen — most of whom were on the team playing the country’s national sport. Other popular search items: “How old is Dolly Parton?” and the recipe for scalloped potatoes.
Dangerous insects were on the minds of the people in Germany in 2018. The most widely asked question in the country was, “oak processionary — what to do,” a reference to a moth that in caterpillar form is found in oak forests. Some schools, pools, and other public venues closed earlier in the year due to an infestation of the insect, whose hairs can cause rashes and breathing problems in humans. The second most widely asked question: “What helps against wasps?”
“Story of Yanxi Palace” was the most popular search term in Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China. The “Story of Yanxi Palace” is a Chinese television drama and in August, a Vietnamese website acquired episodes not yet broadcast in China. Interested parties wanting to see those episodes were required to answer a question regarding islands that are disputed territory. The correct answer, according to the website, was Vietnam, a move that triggered outrage among Chinese netizens.
One of the most popular search phrases in India in 2018 was “How to link Aadhaar with mobile number” — a reference to the country’s biometric ID system, the largest one in the world. Other popular search terms were “What is Section 377,” a reference to the British colonial-era law that criminalized gay sex and that the country’s Supreme Court struck down this past summer. Indians also searched “What is happening in Syria” and “What is kiki challenge,” a reference to the video of two farmers dancing in a rice field that went viral to the Drake song, “In My Feelings.”
Technology and the cosmos fueled searches for people across Japan in 2018. The most popular question was, “What is a virtual currency,” a question reflecting how unregulated digital money became much more widely popular around the world this year. In line with that question, “What is bitcoin” was the third most-asked question by the Japanese. Squeezed between those two questions: “What is a total lunar eclipse” — a reference to the July event that drew fascination around the world.
The results of Malaysia’s historic general election in May were the most widely searched news item in 2018. The election ushered in the first change in government since the country’s independence in 1957. Also at the top of the country’s most searched news topics was the “Momo Challenge,” an alleged form of cyberbullying spread through mobile phones and social media.
People in Nigeria were curious in 2018. The most popular question asked on Google was, “How to check J.A.M.B. results,” a reference to the nation’s entrance exam for people hoping to attend one of the country’s universities. People in the country also asked how to write a business plan, and the results of a gubernatorial vote in the state of Osun, which drew concern from international observers over how the balloting was conducted.
Efforts to bypass the rules of video games led to the top overall searches in the Philippines in 2018. No. 1 was “MemoryHackers” and No. 2 was “Hot Shot Gamers” — both terms for cheating mechanisms in the video game “Rules of Survival.”
People in Russia asked “How to become a blogger” more than any other question. Finishing second was “How to become a model,” and at No. 3 was, “How to become an election observer.” Presidential elections were held in the country in March, and the nation also sent people to observe the U.S. midterm elections in November.
Technology fueled searches in the United Kingdom in 2018. “What is bitcoin?” was the most popular “What is …” phrase in the country, followed by “What is GDPR?” — a reference to the General Data Protection Regulation, the digital privacy law in the European Union that went into effect this year for member countries. As the U.K. approaches the March 2019 deadline to leave the EU, British citizens will be designated differently by the GDPR.
Another widely searched phrase: “How to floss dance?”