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News > World

Google Searches for Notre Dame 7 Times Higher Than Sri Lanka in Wake of Tragedies

  • An analysis of Google Trends revealed that searches for Notre Dame fire (right) was seven times higher than Sri Lanka attacks (left).

    An analysis of Google Trends revealed that searches for Notre Dame fire (right) was seven times higher than Sri Lanka attacks (left). | Photo: Reuters

Published 22 April 2019

A comparison in Google Trends showed that people searched more for Notre Dame and Christchurch than Sri Lanka.

The Notre Dame fire last week received seven times more searches on Google than the Sri Lanka attacks on Easter Sunday that killed nearly 290 people and injured 500 more.


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According to data retrieved from Google Trend by Al-Jazeera, it was revealed that search interest was seven times more for keywords “Notre Dame” compared to “Sri Lanka.”

A major fire broke out at the medieval Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris on April 15 afternoon. The cathedral, which dates back to the 12th century and is famous for featuring in Victor Hugo's classic novel The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, attracts millions of tourists every year. No deaths have been reported in the Paris fire incident.

Within 24 hours of both incidents, the Notre Dame fire recorded between five to nine times more search interest than Sri Lanka attacks.

The searches for Sri Lanka outnumbered Notre Dame only in India, Indonesia, and United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Data on Notre Dame (red) and Sri Lanka (blue) searches. | Photo: Google Trend

One of the main reasons behind more interest in Notre Dame was the "closer to home" appeal for people from the Western hemisphere.

"Conversely, in India, Sri Lanka is 'closer to home' and that why it was reflected more prominently in India's search trends," Al-Jazeera’s SEO analyst Gabriele Kahlout said.

"We see this pattern all the time. When news of the Ethiopian Airlines crash broke out, Google Trends reported that people in America were mainly searching for American victims of the crash."

According to the Trends, France, Mexico, Argentina, Italy, and Brazil had 90 percent more searches for Notre Dame than for Sri Lanka.

Also, a comparison between Sri Lanka and New Zealand's Christchurch carried out by teleSUR showed that within 24 hours of both incidents, Christchurch was searched more times and by more countries than in the case of Sri Lanka.

Data on Sri Lanka search within 24 hours of the attacks. | Photo: Google Trends
Data on Christchurch search within 24 hours of attacks. | Photo: Google Trend

Even though New Zealand does not belong to the Western hemisphere, it constitutes mostly English speaking white population which appeals to the Western audience much more than a non-white inhabitant island of Sri Lanka.

Sri Lankan government Monday accused an Islamist militant group  National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ) for the bombings and imposed emergency all over the country which gives police and the military extensive powers to detain and interrogate suspects without court orders, which will go into effect at midnight Monday, the president's office said.

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