Each year, millions of people post on Facebook to share what’s important to them, discuss world events, or just catch up with friends. With more than 800 million people connected around the globe on Facebook, news about the world’s triumphs and tragedies spreads fast.
Memology takes the pulse of this global community by comparing this year’s status updates to last year’s, unearthing the most popular topics and cultural trends – or memes – emerging on Facebook. Whether it’s hmu, lms or tbh, each year brings a new set of three letter acronyms that go viral.
To see memes for countries around the world, along with top trending musicians, actors and songs on Facebook, check out the special tab on the Facebook Page.
Top Global Topics on Facebook
The year’s biggest sports event came in February, when the Green Bay Packers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers to win Super Bowl XLV. Not surprisingly, Packers fans were particularly active around each post-season match (represented by the spikes on the chart), culminating in their victory on February 6.
Charlie Sheen captured people’s attention in March, when his trademark “winning,” “tiger blood” and “goddesses” memes took off.
Later that month, the United Nations military operations started in Libya, prompting a surge in status updates mentioning “Libya” and “Gaddafi.”
The marriage of Kate Middleton and Prince William dominated the conversation in April, with mentions of the phrase “Royal Wedding” shooting up nearly 600-fold in the days running up to their wedding day.
Days later, the death of Osama bin Laden became the most talked about event on Facebook for 2011. On May 1, almost 10 percent of all status updates in English mentioned news of his death.
A couple months later, talk of the trial of Casey Anthony, a Florida woman who was accused of murdering her daughter Caylee Anthony, reached fever pitch. Status updates mentioning Caylee Anthony peaked on July 5, the day her mother was acquitted.
In August, Hurricane Irene struck the east coast of the United States, with people taking to Facebook to get the latest emergency warnings and to make sure their friends and family were safe.
The year was also marked by outpourings of sadness and memories after the deaths of Amy Winehouse in July and Steve Jobs in October.
Finally, the launch of the video game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (mw3) was the big event of November, marking the biggest entertainment launch of all time.
Memes for 2011
As well as identifying the top ten global topics on Facebook, we also dug through the data to identify the top trending cultural phenomena for the year.
Planking was the flash in the pan meme on Facebook for 2011. Status updates mentioning planking, where people lie face down in unusual locations, exploded in May. That happened after Max Key, the son of New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, posted a Facebook photo of himself planking in the family lounge with his father in the background.
The fad quickly lost steam, then rebounded in July when celebrities such as Tom Green, Chris Brown and Katy Perry drew more attention to it. But even they couldn’t stem planking’s eventual decline.
lms for a tbh
2011 was also the year of “lms” and “tbh.”
“lms,” short for “like my status” is an invitation to Facebook friends to like something (“lms if u find this funny!”)
A new use of “lms” emerged this year as a way to interact with friends on Facebook. “lms and I’ll post your best feature” asks friends to like a status and get a response in the comments. This catapulted “lms” to become the fastest-growing meme of 2011.
“tbh” or “to be honest” began as a way to add sincerity at the beginning or end of a statement – like “tbh i completely agree with you.”
“tbh” soon went viral. Now it’s often used in conjunction with “lms” to give honest feedback about friends – the most iconic status update for 2011 was “lms for a tbh. “
While the growth of these two acronyms is slowing, they’re likely to remain part of the Facebook lexicon in 2012.
2011 was also the rise of music producer Skrillex. Although Skrillex has been around for several years, his 2011 tour, a collaboration with Korn, and record label launch prompted a 76-fold increase in the number of people mentioning him in their status updates on Facebook.
Explore the top status trends by country, fastest growing Pages and most popular media of 2011 on the Facebook Page.
Memology 2011 was developed by Data Scientists Jonathan Chang and Eytan Bakshy, who hope you like their statuses in 2012.