If there was a toilet paper fixing scandal in the UK, we’d probably be asking about it too.
Google Trends has released its insight on internet searches for 2018, revealing what users all around the world were asking on the regular. This also means we can reveal the most searched for question in every country in 2018 - and the cultural insights and surprisingly dramatic stories tell a tale.
Whether it be finding out football results in a dramatic World Cup for Uruguay (“cómo salió Nacional?” or “what’s the National score?”), digging up dirt on the royals in Canada (“How old is Prince Harry?)” or figuring out if a certain French striker is a little chillier than most (“Griezmann joue en manches longues” or “why does Greizmann play in long sleeves”), many of the searches revealed and translated by Vouchercloud were fairly run of the mill.
However, asking how to receive the money awarded to you in the Chilean toilet paper fixing scandal unmasked in 2015 (“Cómo cobrar los 7 mil pesos del Comfort”, or “How to collect the 7000 pesos from Comfort”) is not your run of the mill story.
The brave, often chilly people of Finland also had to deal with something rather unexpected this year - a heatwave. Assumed unprecedented numbers of people searched for "miten viilentää asuntoa", or "how to cool my apartment", as a result.
On an entirely different note, the people of Zimbabwe - either very wholesomely or very naively, - asked in great numbers 'how to make love'.
Chris Johnson, Head of Operations at Vouchercloud, who pulled together the findings, commented:
We've operated in quite a few countries for a number of years now, so we're used to international customs and quirks. It's safe to say that still didn't prepare us for some of the questions asked, though.
Regardless, it's always encouraging that internet users all over the world can find answers to some quite serious - and quite silly - questions at the click of a mouse. You know what they say - with great power comes moderate responsibility and some strange Google searches.
Bitcoin was also a key trending topic of 2018, and a rapidly emerging search trend - both the UK and US asked “what is bitcoin?” more than anything else, with Romania also asking “ce este bitcoin?” in its native tongue.
Some of the searches also have a slightly higher social conscience; the Danish people - who narrowly escaped a full public sector shutdown in March/April this year over salary disputes and workers rights - were seen most commonly searching for “hvad er lockout?”, or “what is lockout?”.
The term ‘lockout’ is used to describe a retaliation to a strike by public sector workers - in a nation where all public sector pay is dictated industry by industry by negotiations between employers and unions.
Full Question List
Austria's Most Googled Question in 2018 - 'Wie viele Längengrade umfasst eine Zeitzone?'
This translates to 'how many degrees of longitude does a timezone include' - the answer being 15° roughly, despite it being massively inconsistent - but it's quietly assumed the questions were around how many timezones there are.
The best explanation as to why searches for this peaked this year across Austria falls onto the vote across the EU in August as to whether daylight savings time should be abolished. Austrians voted in numbers that far exceed most of Europe.
Most people decided it's better to keep things as they are.
Brazil's Most Googled Question in 2018 - 'Como Fazer Slime?'
Or, yes - how to make slime. We've all wondered at some point in our lives, right?
There's no solid explanation for this. Brazxiliam TV show É de Casa did throw out this report on a live broadcast - this video now has over 1,300,000 views - with the host playing with slime before introducing a young child and a homemade recipe.
Cute, curious, and apparently hugely popular with Google.
Chile's Most Googled Question in 2018 - 'Cómo cobrar los 7 mil pesos del Confort'
'How to collect the 7000 pesos of comfort' relates to a toilet paper price fixing scandal revealed in 2015.
... I know, I know. Let me explain.
CMPC and SCA controlled 90% of the Chilean toilet paper market and artificially fixed prices for over a decade, artificially pushing up prices to reap profits from the poorest of Chilean residents.
Having been caught out, CMPC were ordered to pay a massive fine, which became a compensation package for the residents of Chile.
The figure equates to about £8.14 - which when distributed to 12.5 million Chileans (any resident over the age of 18) is quite the significant sum. CMPC - Chile's largest paper mill - are shelling out $150 million as a result of the fine, which is 78% of its total profits.
Colombia's Most Googled Question in 2018 - '¿Qué significa tbt?'
Colombia and Panama both shared this most asked question, querying the origins and meaning of 'TBT' - or throwback Thursday.
It speaks volumes about just how much the internet has changed culture and society - and how nations where the internet is either slow, not readily available or, at the very least, not readily available in a handheld device to the vast majority of the masses, can be a little behind the times.
It's hard to uncover the exact reason why these searches ballooned this year, but you can assume an increase in adoption of Facebook and other social media platforms has contributed heavily.
Denmark's Most Googled Question in 2018 - 'Hvad er Lockout?'
This translate to 'What is Lockout?', in response to a very ominous period in March/April where public sector workers and their respective trade unions almost put the country on lockdown.
As described above, the term ‘lockout’ is used to describe a retaliation to a strike by public sector workers.
Essentially, all public sector pay and benefits in Denmark - so council workers, nurses, teachers, etc - is negotiated by each respective profession and its own trade union. There is no mandatory minimum wage, for example.
These 'settlements' typically last two to three years, and April 2018 was the date these were up for renewal.
As handily quoted in Your Danish Life:
"If employees do not agree, they can strike in order to put pressure on their employer. The same goes for the employer, who can decide to lockout the employees, and thus a deadlock begins until someone yields.
"All of this is perfectly legal and takes place as forewarned strikes and lockouts, giving each part time to negotiate in what is called Forligsinstitutionen"
Italy's Most Googled Question in 2018 - 'Cosa Significa Sessista?'
... this translates as 'what does sexist mean?' - and it isn't a mistranslation.
In a year that brought #metoo to the masses, women's rights were as hot a topic as ever across 2018.
Is it concerning that Italian's asking what 'sexist' means more than anything else this year?
Nigeria's Most Googled Question in 2018 - 'How to Check Jamb Result'
The 'JAMB' is the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, who organise the running of the UTME - the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination.
Essentially, Nigerian students are trying to check their test results to see if they qualified for a university place.
Searches may have swelled this year as results were released in batches - meaning some people got their results after others, which likely explains the frantic Google searching for those at the back of the queue!
Norway's Most Google Question in 2018 - 'Hva er Pinse?'
This translates to 'What is Pentecost?', with the people of Norway querying the Christian holiday celebrated on the seventh Sunday after Easter.
In Norway, the '2nd day of Pentecost' is a national holiday, basically giving Norwegians a free Monday off.
As a result, a lot of Norwegians not so in tune with religious beliefs and fundamentals are trying to figure out exactly why they've been given an excuse to sit at home and eat crisps on the couch all day.
Pentecost commemorates the 'descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ while they were in Jerusalem celebrating the Feast of Weeks'.
Switzerland's Most Googled Question in 2018 ' Was ist Schmand?'
This essentially translates to 'what is sour cream?'
Basically, Switzerland has seen a steady increase in appetite for German and Austrian recipes and cooking, which has resulted in far greater searches for sour cream - which straight up culturally doesn't exist in Switzerland.
Think someone's face in China when you tell them what Marmite is.
Notes on the Data
All findings were pulled from Google Trends results for 2018, using Google’s top results for question-based terms “how to”, “why is”, “what does”, etc. Any countries with multiple results were selected based on which term had more ‘search volume’n or average monthly searches, across 2018.