From high court celebrity drama to British politics and the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Google’s list of trending people in 2022 is a good indicator of the stories and events that generated the most interest this year.
The “2022 Year in Search — Themes and Insights" report is based on searches that shot up over a sustained period of time this year.
So, who have been searched the most? Let's delve into the Top 10...
1. Johnny Depp
Topping the chart is actor Johnny Depp who in December settled his defamation lawsuits against Amber Heard following a high-profile trial earlier this year in which the former couple accused each other of physical and verbal abuse.
The trial stretched over several months and became something of a cultural phenomenon as millions of people watched the televised proceedings.
Ostensibly a defamation case, the trial frequently devolved into ugly mudslinging as both Depp and Heard took the stand over multiple days, denying each other's abuse allegations and accusing each other of horrible behaviour during their brief marriage. This sad spectacle will not be missed.
2. Will Smith
Will Smith made headlines this year, not for his acting, but for slapping Oscars host Chris Rock after the comedian joked about the actor’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. The incident also made number nine in the top trending 'news' category. The fallout resulted in Smith being banned from the Oscars for the next 10 years.
3. Amber Heard
While Depp won the US defamation trial, he has also seemingly won the PR fight, with Heard making this year’s third most Googled person.
Following the decision to settle their defamation lawsuits, Heard said the decision to settle was difficult: “I never chose this,” she wrote on Instagram.
“I defended my truth and in doing so my life as I knew it was destroyed. The vilification I have faced on social media is an amplified version of the ways in which women are re-victimised when they come forward."
4. Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin was listed as the fourth most searched person, reflecting how the war in Ukraine has dominated headlines. Globally, ‘Ukraine’ was the single most searched-for news item and the third most popular search term.
5. Chris Rock
Following the Smith vs. Rock showdown, Oscars host Chris Rock is in fifth place in this year's most Googled people worldwide. He also made the fourth spot as the most-searched-for actor, while Jada Pinkett Smith grabbed fifth place.
6. Novak Djokovic
Djokovic takes sixth place, along with being the most Googled athlete.
The 21-time major winner is preparing for a shot at his 10th Australian Open crown after being granted a visa to compete in Australia in January.
The 35-year-old Serbian was banned from competing at the Australian Open and the US Open due to being unvaccinated but still won his seventh Wimbledon title and the ATP Finals.
Tennis players dominated this year's most-searched athletes on Google, with Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams holding the second and third global spots.
7. Anna Sorokin (Delvey)
Russian-born German con artist and fraudster Anna Delvey - or Anna Sorokin - takes the number seven spot after Netflix turned her exploits into the popular series 'Inventing Anna' which was nominated for three Emmy Awards.
Anna posed as a wealthy heiress and attempted to defraud hotels, banks, and acquaintances in New York City between 2013 to 2017.
8. Andrew Tate
Interest in British-American influencer and kickboxer Andrew Tate skyrocketed in August when he was banned from Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and YouTube for violating each platform’s community guidelines. The self-described “success coach” has been criticized online for what many see as misogynistic advice and toxic masculinity.
9. Rishi Sunak
Sunak's rise to UK Premiership set off a storm of searches on Google following the drama of Liz Truss' resignation, his millionaire wife's non-dom status, and becoming the first non-white Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
10. Simon Leviev
Another scammer has made the top ten most Googled people in 2022.
Simon Leviev, better known as Netflix's Tinder Swindler, went viral in February 2022. The Israeli conman convicted of theft, forgery and fraud allegedly conned an estimated $10 million from victims across Europe between 2017 and 2019.
The docu-film revealed how Leviev conned multiple women after meeting them on the popular dating app.
There we have it. Scammers, abusers, misogynists and war criminals... Hardly a pretty picture of 2022.
Let's hope 2023 brings about some more positive role models.