Facebook releases its 2015 ‘Year in Review’ lists

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC/AP) — Facebook released its annual “Year in Review,” and the top stories of 2015 featured most of the year’s tragic and/or controversial events — a stark change from years’ past.

Facebook’s annual top 10 lists have had a lighter tone prior to 2015. For example, the 2014 list was sports-heavy with the Super Bowl, World Cup and Winter Olympics. It also featured the ALS fundraiser, the “Ice Bucket Challenge.”

The Harlem Shake, William and Kate’s royal baby, and the Tour de France topped the 2013 list. And, in 2012, the list featured two sporting events, the Super Bowl and the Olympics, as well as Facebook’s own public stock offering.

The U.S. won’t elect a president until next year, but the debate over the crowded field of candidates jostling for the Oval Office emerged as the hottest topic on Facebook this year.

The race for the Democratic and Republican party nominations eclipsed an outpouring of emotions over deadly attacks, strife, social issues and disasters.
The rankings, released Wednesday, open a window into the cultural mindset by analyzing how frequently specific high-profile events, politicians, entertainers, athletes, movies and TV shows were mentioned in the posts of Facebook’s 1.5 billion users.

“This year, the most talked about global topics reflected the serious challenges people are facing all over the world — and how our global community is connecting and coming together in ways we have never seen before,” said Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook Inc.’s chief operating officer.

Google, the owner of the Internet’s dominant search engine, will provide another snapshot of what people were thinking and talking about when it releases its annual breakdown of the year’s most frequent requests for more information.

2015 Stories of the Year: The polarizing candidacy of billionaire former reality-TV star Donald Trump helped drive early interest in who will win next year’s race to succeed President Barack Obama. Facebook says last week’s shootings in San Bernardino didn’t trigger enough discussion to break into the top 10.

  1. U.S. Presidential Election
  2. November 13 Attacks in Paris
  3. Syrian Civil War & Refugee Crisis
  4. Nepal Earthquakes
  5. Greek Debt Crisis
  6. Marriage Equality
  7. Fight Against ISIS
  8. Charlie Hebdo Attack
  9. Baltimore Protests
  10. Charleston Shooting & Flag Debate

2014 Stories of the Year: Quite a contrast from 2015.

  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 Olympics

Top U.S. Topics in 2015: Another list that is dominated by controversy, tragedy and terrorism.

  1. U.S. Presidential Election
  2. Marriage Equality
  3. Charleston Shooting & Flag Debate
  4. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  5. Baltimore Protests
  6. Planned Parenthood
  7. Super Bowl
  8. November 13 Attacks in Paris
  9. Fight Against ISIS
  10. Nepal Earthquakes

Top Global Athletes in 2015: The long-awaited May duel between two of the past decade’s best boxers captivated sports fans. Reflecting Facebook’s worldwide reach, none of the most popular pastimes in the U.S. placed an athlete in the top five. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady came in sixth place on Facebook’s list, while Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry occupied the seventh spot to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James in the basketball arena.

  1. Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
  2. Manny Pacquiao
  3. Ronda Rousey
  4. Lionel Messi
  5. Cristiano Ronaldo
  6. Tom Brady
  7. Stephen Curry
  8. LeBron James
  9. Serena Williams
  10. Carlos Tevez

Top Global Entertainers in 2015: British singer Ed Sheeran doesn’t have as many followers as Taylor Swift and other singers on Twitter, but the voice behind the Grammy-nominated song “Thinking Out Loud” topped Facebook’s charts this year. All five of the top spots were held by singers.

  1. Ed Sheeran
  2. Taylor Swift
  3. Kanye West
  4. Nicky Jam
  5. Wiz Khalifa
  6. Drake
  7. Pitbull
  8. Caitlyn Jenner
  9. The Weeknd
  10. Shakira

Top Global Movies in 2015: The anticipation for the Walt Disney Co.’s revival of the “Star Wars” franchise loomed over theaters like the Death Star for most of the year, even though the film won’t be released until next week.

  1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  2. Fast & Furious 7
  3. Jurassic World
  4. Avengers: Age of Ultron
  5. American Sniper
  6. Straight Outta Compton
  7. Fifty Shades of Grey
  8. Mad Max: Fury Road
  9. Magic Mike XXL
  10. Pitch Perfect 2

Top Global Politicians in 2015: Fascination over who might replace him next year wasn’t enough to overshadow the current U.S. president as he wrapped up in his penultimate year in office.

  1. Barack Obama
  2. Donald Trump
  3. Dilma Rousseff
  4. Hillary Clinton
  5. Bernie Sanders
  6. Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva
  7. Recep Taytip Erdoğan
  8. Muhammadu Buhari
  9. Narendra Modi
  10. Benjamin Netanyahu

Top Global Video Games in 2015: Mass Multi-Player Online games (MMO), Role Playing Games (RPG) dominated this year’s list.

  1. FIFA15
  2. Mortal Kombat X
  3. Fallout Shelter & Fallout 4
  4. Batman: Arkham Knight
  5. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
  6. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
  7. Dying Light
  8. Star Wars: Battlefront
  9. Pac-Man 256
  10. Halo 5: Guardians

Top Global Television Shows in 2015: No surprise here after the HBO series “Game of Thrones” enthralled audiences during its fifth season and won a record 12 times, including the prize for best drama, at the Emmy awards in September.

  1. Game of Thrones
  2. The Walking Dead
  3. The Daily Show
  4. Saturday Night Live
  5. WWE Raw
  6. The Simpsons
  7. 19 Kids and Counting
  8. Grey’s Anatomy
  9. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
  10. Orange is the New Black

Facebook released the following statement about “Year in Review” top 10 lists:

As 2015 comes to a close, we remember what was on our minds this year and the difference we made by coming together. We’re taking a look back on the moments in 2015 that moved us and inspired us to take action.

We analyzed the past year’s conversation on Facebook to reveal the most talked-about global topics.

The top 10 lists were measured by how frequently a topic was mentioned in Facebook posts made between January and December 2015. To put this list together, Facebook posts were analyzed in an aggregated, anonymized way, and then ranked to create a snapshot of the year on Facebook.

A report from Michael Liedtke of The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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