So what have been the biggest news stories of the year? There are many ways to answer this question, but one way is to simply look at the stats. So here we go, with a list that’s going to be very different to the kind of list you’d get with most ‘proper’ news sites:
1. Sharon O’Brien
The most viewed story on 100gf this year concerned a girl named Sharon O’Brien, who allegedly had some personal photos illicitly shared online. Some people thought, and still think, that this was all a set-up by an anti-bullying charity. Whatever the truth, it’s clear that online bullying was one of the big stories of the year.
2. Amber Cole
The second most viewed story was quite similar to the first, in that it involved a girl who became famous online without necessarily wanting such exposure. The Amber Cole story, though, was particularly newsworthy given that it exposed some uncomfortable truths about how the internet works, and about how people behave online.
3. PSN hacking attack
2011 was in many ways the year of the hack, as numerous websites and companies suffered embarrassing and sometimes damaging hacking attacks. The most notorious was possibly the attack that knocked out the PlayStation Network (PSN) for weeks, costing Sony a huge sum of money and reminding us all of the dangers of having our personal data leaked online.
4. April Pratt
Here’s another story in which an individual became hugely famous thank to a single viral video. In this case, it was a girl named April Pratt who allegedly was shown blowing ‘nut bubbles’ on video. Most people probably didn’t know what nut bubbles were before this video came out.
5. Sean Kingston
For a few hours back in late May, it seemed that singer Sean Kingston might have died as a result of injuries sustained in a jet ski accident. Thankfully he made a full recovery, but not before millions of fans had been fooled into thinking he was dead thanks to Twitter rumours.
6. Cierra Wilson
Completing the holy trinity with April Pratt and Amber Cole, Cierra Wilson was another girl who shot to fame on the back of an alleged, unplanned sex video. As the year wore on, these kinds of stories started to merge into one. For a while, it seemed there was a new one every day.
7. Dynamo walks across the River Thames?
Six months later, it’s still not entirely clear how the magician Dynamo managed to walk across part of the River Thames near the Houses of Parliament. Comments to our post offered a range of intriguing suggestions, with some people even arguing that we should drop our cynicism and simply accept that Dynamo had performed an act of genuine magic. Others were not so willing to believe…
8. Death of Amy Winehouse
When Amy Winehouse’s death was first announced on Twitter, many people assumed it was just another death hoax. Sadly, that turned out not to be the case. The singer, considered by many to be one of the finest British singers of her generation, had been found dead at home. Such an early end to her life had seemed sadly inevitable, but it was still shocking when it came.
9. Riots in London, Birmingham, Manchester and elsewhere
In August, Britain was seized by a series of riots that started in London and spread to Manchester, Birmingham and elsewhere. What caused the riots? For some, it was pure gratuitous opportunism. But others felt it was a sign of growing anger at the direction of British society. Perhaps it was both, and more. Either way, as we enter 2012 we should reflect that much of the anger of 2011 is probably still there, bubbling under the surface, waiting to explode once again. Let’s hope not.
10. Egyptian police criticise US police tactics against Occupy protesters
Two of the year’s big stories – the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, and the rise of the Occupy movement in the US and elsewhere – came together with perfect synergy when Egyptian police defended their tactics by saying that they had not been as tough on protesters as the US police had been with members of the Occupy movement. Not an entirely believable argument, but some of the scenes in America were still shocking and hint at deep problems in the US.