How the Internet Had an Impact on 2011

How the Internet Had an Impact on 2011


How the Internet Had an Impact on 2011

31.12.2011




2011 was a year of revolution, both in technology and science, as well as within social circles, the internet, and even politics. 2011 has seen the world shaken by numerous natural disasters, from earthquakes and tsunamis to floods, Africa and the Middle East torn by political unrest, widespread rioting, and the overthrowing of several dangerous dictators across the world.


How has the internet impacted on all of these worldwide events? Facebook, with its rapidly expanding user base and the introduction of Google+, as well as Twitter, news websites with live feeds and streaming, blogging, Skype and YouTube have all provided up to date information on world events like never before. From anywhere in the world, anyone with access to the internet can see and read real-time updates, as soon as the reporters themselves broadcast. Facebook allows users to link to and share news stories, spreading the word even quicker through comments, likes and shares. Twitter too, as well as other social network sites, meant that the whole world could watch as the world changed around them.

Brazil Floods

2011 had barely begun when January saw the Nova region of Brazil hit by a month of rainfall in a mere twenty four hours, severely effecting the mountain regions and poverty stricken areas of Friburgo,Teresópolis, Petrópolis, Sumidouro and São José do Vale do Rio Preto. The worst natural disaster to ever hit the region, widespread flooding caused the loss of water and electricity supplies, and numerous deaths.

In this incident, several of the effected areas were impassable to journalists, but witnesses were able to circulate news via Twitter and Skype, as well as Facebook and Brazil's social networking site Orkut. These news feeds provided rapid and up to date information about the rising death tolls, and for the citizens on how to protect themselves from being infected by the contaminated flood waters. One journalist's Twitter account answered followers' questions about the disaster, receiving as many as 1,000 questions at a time.

The Japan Earthquake

On March 11th, Japan was hit by the most powerful earthquake to ever strike the country. With its epicentre off the Pacific Coast of Tohoku, the earthquake ripped through the entire Eastern shore of the country, with a deadly tsunami following. Measuring 9.0 on the Richter Scale, the earthquake triggered waves up to 40.5 metres high that travelled almost ten kilometres inland.

With almost 16,000 people dead and a further 10,000 injured or unaccounted for, the world held its breath at the site of the destruction that spread across the internet in a matter of minutes. The sheer volume of detail was incredible: television, news, iPad applications, multi-language information, constant feeds from Facebook and Twitter ensured that the whole world was united, connected together by devastation. Huge quantities of video footage from witnesses and third parties were circulating via Skype, YouTube and webcams. More information was available regarding this disaster than at the great Kobe earthquake of 1994, even to the reporters themselves.

The Death of Osama Bin Laden

Anyone who was not watching the news at the time had probably already seen the rumours and snippets of conversation circulating Facebook and Twitter. Then, it was time to turn onto Sky News, to see the story that the world had long been waiting for . The death of Osama Bin Laden, ten years in the making, saw news websites overloaded with website traffic, including CCN News Mobile, as well as traffic spikes seen on Facebook and Twitter.

No official photos had been released of Osama Bin Laden's body, but users were inclined to trawl the internet for any leaked information. Needless to say, cybercriminals began to spread malware, through links claiming to show video or photographic footage of the Al Qaeda leader's death. Attractive headlines, and the pure thirst for information saw many falling victim to the viruses and malware.

The Libyan Crisis


Almost the whole world was united against the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddaffi as the Libyan people began to rebel against their long term leader and dictator. The world knew what was happening, even before it happened, thanks to Skype videos of the riots, witnesses' reports and whispers of the Libyan leader's eventual downfall, several months on.

Political Conflicts in Egypt, Tunisia and Greece

Political uprising and rebellion spread rapidly throughout the Middle East and Africa, with Tunisia's events spreading through Twitter, that eventually helped shaped the news that was revealed on newspapers and in the official media. Many citizens throughout Tunisia had a greater chance of gaining information about the protests through the Internet, than news from the streets, and information could be discussed in a safer way.

The internet in Egypt saw the bringing down of its dictator Hosni Mubarak, as the Egyptian government was overthrown for the first time in thirty years. It is indisputable that the internet and social networks played a crucial role, though the internet had been closed down in Egypt on January 27th, but not before vital news feeds and information had been posted across the Internet, particularly through Facebook, which saw six times more traffic than Google within the country.

The Tunisian crisis too was boiling over thanks to social media. Restrictions were not enough to stop the citizens spreading their word to the world via blogging, video leaks and eyewitnesses. Facebook was used to unite protesters against their common enemy in an organised and informed method of communication that was never before possible.

The Death of Steve Jobs

The Death of the genius behind the Apple revolution came as a great shock to the IT community, and the rest of the world. The charismatic fifty six year old died in his home on October 5th, whilst all over the internet, Twitter, Facebook and news feeds exploded with messages of grievance, kind words and quotes by the entrepreneur, as well as memories by his colleagues which caused huge traffic spikes. The same traffic surges occurred this year on Twitter following the deaths of the troubled soul singer Amy Winehouse and Osama Bin Laden. Deficiencies were unfolded, loading time increased dramatically, and many users temporarily lost access to these and other social networking sites on web systems which did not foresee such traffic spikes.

For Steve Jobs, the outpouring of dedication that united the world was truly an ironic ending to his life: his death saw the whole world brought together by the very same man who had made it all possible.

The Google+ Revolution

The internet today, just twenty years on, is all about sharing news and information around the world, and with so many news sites, social networking websites and applications, it was only a matter of time until Google sought its own piece of the puzzle. The evolution of blogging was adding an even deeper level of communication within the media and internet, so Google+ was designed with these user goals in mind.

Google+ allows users to produce content without character limitations (unlike Twitter), to create circles and groups of friends, to share news feeds, read the news, sports updates, advertise, and communicate with friends and followers in an intimate and user friendly environment. Google+ combines the functionality that was once accessed through four or five different web platforms.


With such a vast amount of knowledge and news now accessed primarily via the internet, it is hardly surprising that the Search Engine Google too found its fair share of the media this year. In fact, many of its top ranking searches of 2011 were thanks to the hundreds of thousands of internet users across the globe simply wanting to know more about what was happening on the other side of the world. Below are Google's top 10 searches of 2011:

1. Rebecca Black: The thirteen year old American became an instant celebrity with the release of her pop single 'Friday', its video on YouTube collecting a staggering 167 million views. This young singing sensation was the fastest rising search for 2011, rising by more than 10,000%. She even topped Lady Gaga!

2. Google+: The Facebook competitor Google+ was launched in early 2011, and saw a user base of 10 million in just its first three weeks.

3. Ryan Dunn: When a car crash killed the daredevil from the 'Jackass' and 'Viva La Bam' shows at aged just thirty four, the whole world leapt onto Google to find out what had happened, causing the search to rise by more than 10,000%.

4. Casey Anthony: The suspected murder by Casey Anthony of her two year old daughter after her body was found in the woods near her Orlando home gripped the world as everyone crawled the internet for evidence, and waited for the verdict of second degree murder on the young mother (she was found not guilty).

5. Battlefield 3: Electronic Arts launch of the brand new first person shooter video game topped sales of five million copies in only a week, causing it to be the most searched for video game of 2011.

6. iPhone 5: Whispers and rumours about an iPhone 5 spread like wildfire throughout the internet, as Google calculated the figures. However, the new iPhone with eight mega-pixel camera and edge to edge glass was little more than a rumour. For now, at least.

7.Adele: Her initial hit single 'Someone Like You' sat on the top of the charts and gave her critical acclaim, but with the release of her sophomore album '21', Adele saw the number one spot for 16 weeks, giving the twenty one year old international acclaim.

8. Evacuation of Fukushima: The devastation of the Japan Earthquake in early 2011 caused damage to several nuclear reactors of the Fukushima I Nuclear Plant, and the Japanese government ordered the evacuation of thousands of residents within a ten kilometre radius.

9. Steve Jobs: The premature death of the man who inspired millions of people around the world with his passion and creativity saw the internet and Google overwhelmed with support. The technological visionary revolutionized the way people live and work with the aid of Mac computers, iPods, iPhones, and iPads, and ensured him a place in the top ten searches of 2011, and future years to come.

10. Ipad 2: The launch of the second generation iPads sold more than 500,000 in just a week, gaining 10th place in Google's searches of 2011.


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