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A review of the online world in 2018


A review of the online world in 2018

As we enter the final days of 2018, now is a good time to reflect on the past 12 months and the big headlines that shook the digital world.

Facebook’s woes

It’s safe to say that 2018 was not a great year for the world’s largest social media site. Things seemed to go downhill almost immediately after company founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg declared that he will ‘fix’ the site as his personal challenge of 2018.

In February, the Cambridge Analytica scandal hit the news, revealing a huge data misuse problem as the social site passed over personal data about users without permission. As a result of this, Facebook started to notice a decline in use, as teenagers – once one of the site’s main demographics – started to slowly ditch the platform in favour of alternatives.

One of the few highlights of the year for the company though was the introduction of a feature that tells people how long they’ve spent on the platform. In a time where people are addicted to social media and the portrayal of themselves in the social world, experts suggest that we spend too much time on social media and that it can have detrimental effects on mental health. Facebook, as well as Facebook-owned Instagram, introduced a feature that allows users to limit the time they spend on the site, allowing them to take more control and ensure that their Facebook time is worthwhile.


In May, we saw the introduction of a new privacy policy, the GDPR. It stands for General Data Protect Regulation and officially came into effect on Friday, May 25th. It initially caused panic amongst a lot of businesses looking to ensure they were compliant in time for its introduction, as failing to do so could result in hefty fines of up to 4% of a company’s annual turnover.

GDPR made an instant hit, especially at Engage Web, as Content Team Leader John created a song about the policy. By the end of the year, Google revealed GDPR to be the third most searched for news topic of the year. However, while the topic has been striking a chord with the public, it wasn’t always the right one, as Google soon discovered when it was accused of violating the policy at the end of November.

Mixed milestone year for Google

One of the most well reported stories relating to the company this year was the fact that Google turned 20 in 2018. This allowed the company and everyone else to reflect on how far it has come since its conception back in 1998.

Google has made a number of changes to its products and services this year, including the return of zero results for certain types of searches the company is sure it can answer. At present, this is restricted to mathematical calculations, conversions and questions about the time in specific locations.

In other news, the company revealed that it would be shutting down its social service, Google+. The site had been in decline for some time and Google even admitted that 90% of visitors to it spent fewer than five seconds on it.

Trending topics

Finally, as is tradition to end the year, Google revealed what its users have been searching for over the past 12 months, and this year, the UK was obsessed with football from the World Cup, the Royal Wedding and, of course, GDPR.

The year brought many different headlines, both positive and negative, that changed the way we look at things and even influenced the way we behave online. What will hit the headlines in 2019?

Alan Littler

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