If you went on Facebook at any point this summer, your news feed was likely filled with videos of your friends dumping ice buckets on their heads, all in the name of ALS research. Turns out the Ice Bucket Challenge generated more Facebook mentions than any other topic in 2014—except one: the Ebola virus.
Health topics seemed to be at the forefront of Americans’ minds, with the tragic death of Robin Williams—and the broader discussion about depression, suicide, and mental illness that followed—rounding out the top three.
Here's the full list of the "Most-Talked About Topics in the U.S.," measured by how frequently a topic was mentioned in Facebook posts made between January and December 2014:
- Ebola virus outbreak
- Ice Bucket Challenge
- Robin Williams
- Super Bowl
- Michael Brown/Ferguson
- World Cup
- Conflict in Gaza
- US midterm elections
- Malaysia Airlines
A recap of the top three:
1. Ebola Virus Outbreak
With the worldwide death toll topping 6,000, the Ebola outbreak is undoubtedly one of the biggest stories of the year. While most cases of the virus were contained to West Africa, that didn’t stop Americans from freaking out at their slim chances of catching Ebola, with the mental anxiety becoming a bigger threat than the actual virus. Between demands for President Obama to instate a travel ban for flights from the affected countries, and a company marketing an Ebola containment suit costume, the virus became an all-consuming topic this year, with no chance of slowing down.
2. Ice Bucket Challenge
While taking an icy-cold water bath doesn’t seem like the best way to raise money for ALS research, and many videos didn’t even mention the disease, the ALS Foundation raised $115 million through the challenge, which they plan to use to fund further research and improve treatment for people who are currently fighting the disease.
Facebook also published an additional list of the ten “Most Viewed Ice Bucket Challenge Videos in the US,” with George W. Bush nabbing the top spot.
3. Robin Williams
When Robin Williams took his own life in August, Americans were devastated. His passing highlighted the need for support for people living with depression. Two days later, his wife Susan Schneider announced that Williams was in the early stages of Parkinson’s Disease, and an autopsy report in November revealed that he had signs of Lewy body disease—a hard-to-diagnose form of dementia that can cause confusion, movement difficulties and hallucinations.
Read our full roundup of the best and worst news for your health in 2014.