1 June, 2006
more articles by Gus Cairns
A new internet tool, Google Trends, reveals the most popular internet search terms used in different countries in the world – and the results have come as an embarrassment to a broad swathe of African and Muslim countries from Morocco to Pakistan, who turn out to be the world’s most ardent searchers for sex – both straight and gay.
Google Trends, presented last week in an unfinished version, promises to be a valuable tool for business analysts, market researchers and social scientists, as the popularity of specific search terms – from commercial items to the names of celebrities – can be narrowed down to city level.
It could even help to track the international drugs trade, and the tool has already uncovered an unexpected market for the east African stimulant drug khat in Vietnam and Malaysia.
While the word ‘gay’ is sought for most often by Latin Americans, it turns out to be Filipinos and – guess who – Saudi Arabians who most often look for the combination ‘gay sex’.
In Africa the ‘gay sex’ list is topped by Kenyans, Tanzanians, Namibians, Zimbabweans and South Africans, with Algerians and Moroccans looking for ‘la homosexualité’ and ‘sexe gay’. Homosexuality is illegal in most of these countries.
When it comes to regular sex, another conservative Islamic country tops the list – Pakistan, closely followed by Egypt, with Algerians again topping the Francophone world as they look for ‘sexe’.
Meanwhile the Moroccans have it both ways, coming 2nd in the world in terns of searches for ‘sexe’ and 6th for ‘sex’. Tanzanians, Ethiopians and Somalis also seem to be pretty sex-obsessed.
The numbers of people searching for the worlds ‘HIV’ and ‘AIDS’ pretty much mirror the global epidemic, with South Africa and India topping the list in the cyberworld as they do in the real one.
Disappointingly, however, there is no other African country on the top ten list, with ‘AIDS’ dominated by the USA and Latin America. However the Moroccans seem to be very concerned about ‘le SIDA’, to use the French term.
As for ‘condoms’, far more Indians look for them than any other nation, but South Africa tops the world in terms of searches for the names of anti-HIV drugs.