AFP

SAN FRANCISCO

Robin Williams’s death had people worldwide scouring the Internet for insights into the famed comic’s life, making him the hottest search trend of the year on Google, the web giant said Tuesday. Moreover, Beyonce and Ed Sheeran were the most searched for celebrities of 2014, according to Google. ‘The passing of beloved comedian and actor Robin Williams shook the world, bringing many people online to search for more information and to remember, and putting Williams in the #1 spot on our global trends charts,’ said Google’s vice president of search, Amit Singhal, in a blog post. ‘There was even an uptick in searches related to depression tests and mental health in the days following his death.’

Williams, known for high-energy, rapid-fire improvisation and clowning, was found dead on August 11 at his home in Marin County, north of San Francisco. He hanged himself, according to coroners. There were signs that the 63-year-old comic actor - who had recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease - had tried to cut his left wrist, according to an autopsy report. In a year when Beyonce and Jay Z toured the world, united in the face of rumours their marriage may be on the rocks, and a video surfaced of the singer’s sister Solange raging at Jay Z in a lift, Beyonce was the most Googled female star, while her husband was the second most searched for male.

Young Brit musician Ed was the most Googled male, while One Direction heartthrob Harry Styles came in third. Jennifer Lawrence - whose naked selfies were leaked as part of the celebrity hacking scandal - was the second most searched for female star. Katy Perry, Ariana Grande and Taylor Swift rounded off the female top five, while Benedict Cumberbatch and David Beckham were at number four and five in the list of most Googled males. Celebrity deaths also dominated internet searches with Peaches Geldof, Robin Williams and Rik Mayall the third, fourth and fifth top trending searches of the whole year, behind World Cup and iPhone 6. Philip Seymour Hoffman, who died in February was the eighth top trend. And Cliff Richard  was the sixth most searched for news story.

The Celebrity Photo Hack came seventh in the top ten news stories of the year and Jennifer Lawrence rounded off the top ten trending searches of 2014. Williams, an Oscar-winner and veteran of movies, stand-up shows and hit television series, was one of Hollywood’s most popular entertainers and his death triggered an outpouring of emotion the world over. World Cup fever was the second hottest search trend at Google. ‘The World Cup in Brazil had its fair share of unforgettable moments and had everyone glued to their TVs and mobile devices all summer,’ Google said.

‘From Luis Suarez’s bite heard around the world, to Tim Howard’s superman performance vs. Belgium, to Germany’s incredible run to their fourth title, the competition certainly lived up to its reputation and topped the charts.’ The deadly Ebola virus and tragedy-struck Malaysia Airlines were the third and fourth fierce search topics, respectively, followed by the ‘ALS Ice Bucket Challenge’ fad of dousing oneself in icy water to raise money to battle Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

The remainder of the Top 10 search trends for this year were mobile game Flappy Bird, drag queen performer Conchita Wurst, the Islamic State group, hit animated film ‘Frozen’ and the Sochi Olympics. ‘It was a year in which we were struck by the death of a beloved comedian, and watched news unfold about a horrific plane crash and a terrifying disease,’ Singhal said. ‘We were captivated by sporting events, and had our fun with birds, a bucket of ice and a frozen princess.’

Apple’s new iPhone 6 was the top consumer electronics gadget search trend, while ‘Hunger Games’ film star Jennifer Lawrence was the top query trend focused on a person, according to Google. Nude photos of the Oscar-winning actress and a trove of other stars were hacked and posted online in September, and several threatened to sue Google for failing to take down the leaks.