By late summer, Google user interest in news stories about Edward Snowden and the National Security Agency fell below pre-scandal interest levels, according to a Daily Caller analysis of Google Trends.
Edward Snowden, an agency contractor-turned-leaker, and the NSA have dominated international news headlines for the better part of six months, ever since the Guardian published Snowden’s first disclosure on June 5.
Disclosures by The Guardian, the Washington Post, and the New York Times about the U.S., and the U.K., post-9/11 counterrorism and surveillance programs are expected to continue for months to come.
The political fallout of Snowden’s actions has been likened to a modern spy thriller, and have fueled anti-U.S. government sentiment worldwide.
Civil liberties advocates also took advantage of the leaks to promote higher awareness about how modern technology is contributing to the loss of people’s personal privacy.
Snowden was recently named as the runner-up to Time Magazine’s Person of the Year for 2013. But Google Trends, which tracks on a search interest on a relative index scale of 1 – 100, paints a different picture about how the public has reacted to the stories. On a scale of 1-100, 1 demonstrates the least amount of interest, and 100 shows the highest level of interest.
Google Trends both in the U.S. and worldwideshowed a dramtic spike in user interest both for “Snowden” and “NSA” during the first week of the disclosures in June.
Domestic and international user interest for “Snowden” also peaked at 100 during the week of Jun. 23 – 29 when he attempted to gain asylum in Ecuador. Search interest in “NSA” peaked during the second week of June.
By the first week of July, however, U.S.-based user interest in “NSA” had already declined below scandal interest levels.
International search interest in NSA stories first dipped below pre-scandal levels during the week of July 14 – 20. That trend persisted largely through the remainder of the summer and into the fall, except fro a brief rally in interest between Oct. 27 – Nov. 2.
Google Trends also ranked the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia as the areas in the U.S. most interested in Edward Snowden and the NSA.
Internationally, Paraguay and the United States ranked as the countries most interested in the NSA ; Bolivia, Nicaragua, the U.S., Hong Kong, and Venezuela ranked as the countries most interested in Edward Snowden.