Dec 142014
 

So what compelling news stories across the world got read or viewed on conventional media and got discussed and shared online on social media the most in 2014? Cover Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Was it Oscar and Emmy award-winning comedian-actor Robin Williams, who passed away in August, the Ice Bucket Challenge in June to September, or the dual tragedies of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in July and flight MH370 in March that drew in the most readers of newsprint, viewers of broadcast news, and that compelled users to share conversations across social media?

Such hot topics are already being compiled from millions of conversations and social media posts.

And so many more are coming soon, so stay posted and tuned in.

To start the annual year-end reviews looking back in the rear view mirror onto 2014, Facebook released on Tuesday, December 9 its 2014 list of the hot topics that were most compelling to all of us around the world.

Showcasing its global impact on what news we most liked to talk about on social media this year, Facebook boasts more than 80 percent of its users reside outside the United States and Canada.

Without further delay, below are the world's top ten news stories of 2014, which are altogether, scary, tragic, controversial, mysterious, and inspiring.

So, here we go!

#10 Sochi Olympics (#10 in U.S. was ISIS)

Photo Credit: Closing Ceremonies of the 22nd Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. The opening ceremony for the Sochi Olympics showcased the history and traditions of the country.

In February, the 22nd Winter Olympic Games opened in Sochi, Russia, a historical moment. Security was extremely tight, as international visitors to Sochi and world-class athletes seemed acutely aware that high-level official caution was advised.

Despite international security concerns prior to the opening of the games, the Winter Olympics went off without a security breach, as Russia provided extraordinary regiments of security throughout the event.

Photo Credit: The Daily Mail (U.K.) "ISIS militants released a video which appears to show the beheading of British hostage David Haines. British Prime Minister David Cameron said the aid worker had been murdered in an 'act of pure evil' and promised justice."

“British Prime Minister David Cameron has vowed to bring the killers of aid worker David Haines to justice, as their second British hostage was revealed as 47-year-old Alan Henning,” The Daily Mail reported on September 13, 2014.

“The British Islamic State militant nicknamed 'Jihadi John' warned the taxi driver, from Greater Manchester, would be the next person to die after father-of-two Mr Haines was beheaded in a disturbing video.”

The Daily Mail (U.K.) added: “The latest hostage to be threatened — Alan Henning, 47, of Greater Manchester — is believed to have been working for a Muslim charity and had originally thought that he would be released by ISIS, because he was only in Syria to carry out aid work.”

“He was said to have been abducted by armed masked men who separated him from his aid worker colleagues late last year near Idlib.”

British Prime Minister David Cameron said: "The murder of David Haines is an act of pure evil. My heart goes out to his family who have shown extraordinary courage and fortitude."

Prime Minister Cameron added: "We will do everything in our power to hunt down these murderers and ensure they face justice, however long it takes."

U.S. President Barack Obama said in a statement: "The United States strongly condemns the barbaric murder of U.K. citizen David Haines by the terrorist group Isil."

"Our hearts go out to the family of Mr Haines and to the people of the United Kingdom. The United States stands shoulder to shoulder tonight with our close friend and ally in grief and resolve."

#9 Michael Brown / Ferguson, Missouri (#5 in U.S.)

Photo Credit: FiveThirtyEight.com "Police watch as demonstrators protest the killing of teenager Michael Brown on August 19, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri."

The shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri sparked the worst riots in the streets, since the video recording of the Rodney King beating by police on the street of Los Angeles nearly two and half decades ago. Like the King incident, Michael Brown's shooting death by a Ferguson police officer, Darren Wilson, who was not indicted recently by a local grand jury, led to angry protests and heated debates about race in the United States.

In addition, the incident ignited spirited online political conversations around the world about justice and society, the roles of the state and independent citizenry, and the law and its enforcement through policing.

Marches of peaceful protests in several cities across the U.S. continue to call for awareness of police killings in the fallout of Eric Gardner's death by the hands of police officers in New York City, who were not indicted recently by a local grand jury, as well as in the fallout of other high-profile police killings of citizens in urban centers around the nation.

Mashable reports in a viral video post on December 14: "Although some officials have released numbers, we still don't have a final, definitive call on just how many protesters came out. Some reports put the D.C. march at 10,000, while others, from the NYPD, put the New York march (which is still ongoing) at 12,000 (a number that has been disputed by protesters on the ground)."

#8 Super Bowl XLVIII (#4 in U.S.) (#8 in U.S. was its 2014 Midterm Elections)

Photo Credit: MetLife Stadium, National Football League Super Bowl XLVIII

Annually a crowd-pleasing event that tops off the Holiday Seasons' Greetings, more than 50 million people shared conversations online about the Super Bowl XLVIII on February 2, 2014 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey between NFL 2013-14 season NFC winner Seattle Seahawks and AFC winner Denver Broncos.

Always a social media sensation of real-time tweets and Facebook postings, the Super Bowl Halftime show was performed by “Bruno Mars.”

"Super Bowl XLVIII was billed as a showdown between the NFL's Number 1 offense against the Number 1 defense. In the end, it didn't turn out to be much of a contest," according to SBNation.com on February 2.

The Seattle Seahawks defense dominated the Denver Broncos from start to finish, rolling to a 43-8 win to capture the first world title in franchise history.

On Tuesday, November 4, 2014, the United States midterm Congressional and gubernatorial election was about enough!

Change!

From ISIS to Immigration, and from Ebola to the Economy, Americans sent a resounding message to Washington, as the winds of change blew through the autumn leaves across the American countryside on that fateful Tuesday. The American voters said:

Enough already! Let's get something done, right ...

Now!

Yahoo! News reported the GOP "managed to seize control of the Senate by picking up at least seven seats previously held by Democrats, a goal that has eluded Republicans since 2006."

"The GOP also captured at least 14 House races, expanding its already sizable majority to at least 243 seats — the most it's claimed since Harry Truman was president," Yahoo! News' wrote.

Romano added: "While a dizzying 14 gubernatorial races were tossups heading into November 4, almost all of them broke toward the GOP — meaning that Republican governors (including notably inside the Massachusetts, Maryland and Illinois statehouses) will still vastly outnumber Democratic governors on Inauguration Day."

To keep the system accountable and responsible with integrity and trust, the U.S. midterm election was about enough with not getting something done inside all the Washington infighting and gridlock. America's vote outcome in its 2014 midterm election says, ask us about how we want health care reform, immigration reform, and Ebola crisis management, how we want our economy run, how we choose to have our government represent us in society, and what kinds of jobs we really want and need.

Remarkably, a whooping two-thirds of the American electorate voted against change and for practical conservatism, simply by staying home and not participating in their universal suffrage.

A "No Vote" was a "Yes Vote" against the incumbency.

Elections are about enough, but also enthusiasm in what's going right and wrong with our law-making, policy-making, and decision-making inside our government.

#7 Malaysia Airlines (#9 in U.S., #3 in Australia) (including Missing AirAsia Flight 8501 on December 28)

Photo Credit: Malaysia Airlines, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The world was stunned by the dual crisis of two massive Boeing 777-200 airliner tragedies hitting Malaysia Airlines after decades flying without a safety incident. Flight MH370 vanished on March 8 with 227 passengers and 12 Malaysia Airlines crew on board.

It is generally alleged the massive airliner was in its remaining catastrophic moments (including recent speculations of either a hijacking or a massive on-board fire, originating from a 440 pound large supply of highly flammable lithium-ion batteries inside the cargo hold), when the airliner was radar tracked, as it flew far off-course from its intended flight path. Then, turning suddenly back towards the Straits of Malacca, after which the enormous Boeing 777-200ER airliner is alleged to have mysteriously last flown into the southern Indian Ocean off the coast of Western Australia, experts and search investigators generally believe at this point.

On December 3, Australian Transport Safety Bureau issued an update on the search, saying that "more than 185,000 square kilometers have been surveyed. More than 8,000 square kilometers of the seafloor have been searched so far, reports the Epoch Times.

No trace of flight MH370's Boeing 777-200ER has been found after nine months of an international search, costing well over US$200 million, so much more than the estimated US$160 million in a two-year search and recovery cost for Air France flight 447 Airbus A330 off the coast of Brazil in 2009.

Flight MH17's Boeing 777-200 was shot out of the sky with 283 passengers and 15 Malaysia Airlines crew aboard on the morning of July 17 in war-torn eastern Ukraine — believed (but not quite yet proven by the Dutch Safety Board leading the ongoing investigation) to be hit by a surface-to-air missile or a military jet fighter — killing all 298 souls on board.

The global news story of Malaysia Airlines' journey was dubbed "the greatest dual crisis and mystery in international aviation safety and security history."

Photo Credit: AFP. Christoph Mueller

Embattled Malaysia Airlines appointed Irish flag carrier Aer Lingus Chief, Christoph Mueller, as new CEO to lead the national flag carrier forward through its restructuring plan and brand recovery strategy in the wake of flight MH370's aviation tragedy on March 8, and flight MH17's aviation disaster on July 17, according to Agence France-Presse aviation news reports.

Malaysia Airlines announced on November 28, 2014 its third-quarter loss dipped 54% sending flag carrier's business deeper in financial distress hinging upon insolvency.

Marking a seventh straight quarterly earnings drain, the carrier’s net loss for the three months July 1 - September 30 increased from about US$1.6 million a day to nearly US$1.9 million a day (totaling US$170 million or MYR575.6 million), "expanding from a MYR373.2 million deficit in the same period last year," reports Agence France-Presse. Malaysia Airlines announced "a 1.17 billion ringgit (US$360 million) loss for 2013, higher than expected by analysts. It lost 2.5 billion ringgit and 433 million ringgit, respectively, in 2011 and 2012."

Mueller takes the helm of the Malaysian flag carrier in mid-2015, Khazanah Nasional, Sovereign wealth fund, taking ownership of the beleaguered airline on December 15, said in a quiet announcement late Monday, December 8.

AirAsia_Boeing_737-300_9M-AAB_MRD-1

Photos Credit: Early AirAsia Airliner (2003), two years after the launch of the low-cost Southeast Asia air carrier in 2001.

Remarkably, two missing jumbo jets made this list of top stories in 2014, as heartfelt prayers go out to the families and friends of a total of 699 passenger and flight crew victims lost in 2014.

Low-cost carrier Indonesia AirAsia flight QZ8501 Airbus A320-200, Registration Number PK-AXC en route from Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore, carrying 155 passengers and 7 AirAsia flight crew, has apparently lost contact with air traffic control at approximately 6:18 am (local Surabaya time) Sunday morning, confirms Indonesian Transport Ministry authorities on Sunday, December 28, 2014.

AirAsia Indonesia flight QZ8501 was scheduled to arrive in Singapore at 8:30 a.m. local time (00:30 GMT) and was listed as“delayed” on the flight arrivals board at Changi Airport in Singapore.

AirAsia Flight QZ8501’s Airbus A320-200 airliner wreckage and debris and thirty-four of the total 162 passenger and AirAsia crew victim’s remains have been retrieved eight days later. The Associated Press reports “two large and significant chunks of the aircraft near an oil spill off the island of Borneo, Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency (BASARNAS) chief said Saturday local time during a news conference in Jakarta.” The discovery occurred on Friday night in an area near AirAsia Flight 8510’s final flight path. Wreckage site is 10 miles from plane’s last-known coordinates. The Java Sea at the site where the Airbus A320-200 wreckage has been located is 80 feet to 100 feet deep.

At the moment the exact cause of the Singapore-bound Airbus A320-200 crash into the Java Sea 42 minutes after taking off from Surabaya on what was supposed to be a two-hour flight is unknown. “Just before losing contact, the pilot told air traffic control that he was approaching threatening clouds, but was denied permission to climb to a higher altitude because of heavy air traffic,” according to Mashable.

Also via Mashable: “While it remains unclear what caused the plane to plunge into the Java Sea, bad weather appears to have been a factor, according to a report by Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency. Researchers from the country’s weather office said AirAsia Flight 8501 may have flown into a storm cloud, Bloomberg reported.”

Read more here and on Mashable.

“Round-the-clock coverage of the disaster has also reignited fear of flying for some in a country that has suffered a string of accidents in recent years, as new airlines pop up to meet booming demand in Indonesia, a sprawling archipelago nation of 250 million people,” the social media news outlet reports.

#6 Conflict in Gaza (#7 in U.S. and Australia)

Photo Credit: Israeli bombs hitting Gaza

In July, continuing tensions between Israelis and Palestinians erupted into an explosive conflict dubbed Operation Protective Edge by Israel that lasted just seven weeks.

"The Gaza Strip, sandwiched between Israel and Egypt, has been a recurring flash-point in the Israel-Palestinian conflict for years," reported BBC News.

The BBC provided a full accounting of the Israel-Gaza conflict on August 26, asking the question "Is the fighting over?"

"Israel occupied Gaza in the 1967 Middle East war and pulled its troops and settlers out in 2005. Israel considered this the end of the occupation, but it still exercises control over most of Gaza's borders, waters and airspace. Egypt controls Gaza's southern border," chronicled the BBC.

The BBC further reasoned, "However, Palestinians in Gaza feel confined and are suffering socio-economic hardship. The dominant Islamist Palestinian movement Hamas and other militant groups say the restrictions are intolerable."

"On July 7, Hamas claimed responsibility for firing rockets for the first time in 20 months, after a series of Israeli air strikes in which several members of its armed wing were killed," the BBC reported.

"The next day, Israel launched Operation Protective Edge, which it said was aimed at stopping rocket attacks and destroying Hamas' capabilities."

For seven weeks, there were thousands of air strikes and thousands of rockets fired from both sides during the brief Israel-Gaza conflict in 2014.

#5 Ice Bucket Challenge (#2 in U.S., #4 in Australia)

Photo Credit: Former President George W. Bush had the most widely watched video, with more than 39 million views.

Between June and September, people around the world from all walks of life went online posting Facebook videos showing them being showered by buckets of ice cold water in response to a challenge to raise philanthropy money and awareness for ALS, a neuro-degenerative disorder of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), better known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

Facebook users shared more than 17 million videos related to the Ice Bucket Challenge. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg joined celebrities and millions of users alike to post videos of themselves getting dumped by ice water. All told, those videos were viewed 10 billion times by more than 440 million people, Facebook officials highlighted recently to the Associated Press.

“I think the Ice Bucket Challenge was the first time a lot of people realized you could shoot a video and share it,” Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, said to the Associated Press.

From July 29 to Aug. 27, the ALS Association raised US$94 million, compared with just US$2.7 million a year earlier, according to the Associated Press.

#4 Robin Williams (#3 in U.S., #1 in Australia)

In August, comedian-actor Robin Williams passed away. Nothing else needs to be said about this Oscar and Emmy award-winning comedic genius, actor and entertainer, except these humble words of gratitude for the gift he bestowed upon all of us around the world for decades:

We are grateful for the heartfelt outpouring of support for our beloved Robin Williams from friends and fans all around the world. Your kind words are a great comfort in this time of deep sorrow. We love you, Robin. Rest in peace." — Team RW

#3 Elections in Brazil

Photo Credit: Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff

The presidential election this year in Brazil garnered the most spirited conversations online in Brazilian history.

General elections were held in Brazil on October 5 with nearly 80 percent voter turnout to elect the President, the National Congress, state governors and state legislatures.

No presidential or gubernatorial candidate received more than 50% of the vote.

Dilma Rousseff won 41.6% of the vote, ahead of Aécio Neves with 33.6% and Marina Silva with 21.3%.

Photo Credit: Aécio Neves

Hence, a second-round runoff was held on October 26. Rousseff and Neves contested the runoff with Rousseff being re-elected by a narrow margin, 51.6% to Neves' 48.4%, which sparked huge debate on Brazilian social media.

#2 Ebola Virus Outbreak (#1 in U.S., #6 in Australia)

Since March, the largest widespread Ebola outbreak in history has taken the lives of thousands of people, especially in hardest hit West Africa. American media went into a 24/7 feverish pace of breaking news, as the Ebola outbreak fell upon the shores of the United States.

Spirited debate sparked questions about how the National Institutes of Health, the Center for Disease Control, and the U.S. healthcare system could respond to the "slow-roll pandemic" of Ebola in the age of demography shift and heightened engagement through international aviation safety and security.

Associated Press reports Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg donated $25 million toward fighting the disease.

Photo Credit: The Ebola Fighters are TIME’s Person of the Year for 2014. http://ti.me/1yzKTeL

#1 World Cup (#6 in U.S., #9 in Australia)

Photo Credit: Brazil vs. Germany Semi-final match of 2014 FIFA World Cup

More than 350 million people had 3 billion interactions and connections surrounding the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Brazilians drove the largest online conversations and sharing in the history of social media. After a back injury forced Brazil’s Neymar to miss the semifinal against Germany, the soccer star used Facebook to thank fans for their support and encourage his teammates.

Brazil went on to a stunning 7-1 loss to Germany. The shocking loss by Brazil in the World Cup semi-finals was heartbreaking to Brazilians and millions around the world.

In a single goal during the remaining moments of the finals match, Germany beat Argentina in a 1-0 dramatic finish, as Germany's Mario Goetze scores, thrusting his team into history, as the first European team to win The World Cup in South America.

Soccer, Ebola and Elections Dominated Our Dialogue in 2014

Google, led by Larry Page, has released its annual list of 2014’s top global searches, and the death of American comedy legend Robin Williams, the FIFA World Cup, and the deadly Ebola virus topped the list of top searches, according to CNN. Google's list also included the missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, the viral Ice Bucket Challenge, and the smartphone game Flappy Bird.

Another interesting perspective is the compilations that was conducted in "The Land Down Under" with 30 million Facebook users, drawing from more than 12 million Australians who used Facebook between January to December 2014.

"We look at it in an anonymous, aggregate way," said Facebook's head of policy in Australia, Mia Garlick.

"Increasingly people are talking about current events, current affairs and news stories from around the world. You can see the Israel/Gaza Conflict is featured in here, the Ebola crisis, [and] the World Cup, says Garlick"

“Worldwide topics — the World Cup soccer tournament and the Ebola outbreak — occupied the top two spots. But Number 3 was the presidential election in Brazil. Facebook says some 48 million people had 674 million interactions — status updates, photos, videos, comments and likes — about the highly contested event. That made [the Brazilian presidential election] the most talked-about election of 2014 — even more than the congressional midterms in the U.S.,” according to the Associated Press.

“At its best, social media makes the world a smaller place and builds community on a global level,” Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, said recently to the Associated Press.

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