'Balloon boy' dominates Google search engine

October 15, 2009

As of 5 p.m., 34 of the 40 top searches on Google were still related to Falcon Heene and the saga that unfolded involving his family’s homemade balloon.

“Balloon boy” was the No. 1 search, followed by assorted combinations of Colorado news channels and mentions of the TV show “Wife Swap,” on which Heene’s family was featured.

“Balloon boy” peaked about 3 p.m. Google’s Trends page rated the story’s “hotness” as “volcanic.” Other searches about the boy peaked an hour or two earlier, when the balloon was still in the air and the boy’s whereabouts were unknown.

None of the unrelated searches cracked the top 10.

At No. 15, Google users searched for news that Sen. John McCain’s daughter Meghan, who writes a political column on the Daily Beast Web site, posted a revealing picture of herself using the social networking site Twitter. She took it down after an uproar ensued. She has more than 60,000 people following her updates. (At 8 p.m., Meghan McCain posted, "OK, at least I didn't dupe the media into thinking I flew away in a homemade balloon.")

Video surfaced Thursday, pointed out by Fox News’ Glenn Beck, of White House Communications Director Anita Dunn naming Mao Zedong as one of her favorite political philosophers. Dunn has attacked Fox News in the past. Searches related to that landed in the 20s.

At No. 33 was “GOOG,” which is the stock ticker code for Google. Google  posted third-quarter results Thursday indicating the Internet advertising market is bouncing back after being knocked down by the recession.

Also Thursday, Garth Brooks, one of the biggest country music stars of all time, announced his plans to come out of retirement after nine years out of the business. He plans to start a concert engagement in Las Vegas. Searches related to his announcement squeaked in at Nos. 28 and 35.

Meanwhile, on Twitter, “balloonboy” was the most common topic posted for much of the afternoon and evening. The second most common? “Anne Frank.”

But not because of a resurgence in interest about the Jewish girl famous for writing a diary while in hiding from the Nazis during World War II.

A joke spread like wildfire, riffing on Kanye West’s interruption of Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at MTV's Video Music Awards last month: “Yo balloon boy, I’m happy for you and I’ma let you finish, but Anne Frank had one of the best attic hideouts of all time.”

“Yo balloon boy” was topic No. 3 on Twitter.


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