- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Google searches for “shooting” and “gun control” both surged in the aftermath of Sunday’s terror attack in Orlando, Florida, but they have predictably diminished in the days since — a common trend shown by several of the mass shootings in the United States during the last several years, according to the internet company’s own analytics.

A sudden spike in Google searches for certain terms in the wake of Sunday’s massacre — specifically those related to gun violence and gun control — has already started to taper off hardly three days after an Islamic State-inspired terrorist opened fire inside an Orlando nightclub, claiming 49 victims and injuring 53 more.

Historical search data maintained by Google suggests that the sudden interest spawned by such tragedies — and the subsequent, sharp decrease seen afterwards — isn’t unique to this weekend’s terror attack in Orlando: Statistics obtained through Google Trends reveal a similar pattern of heightened concern followed quickly by apparent abandonment in the wake of other mass shootings.

By comparing Google Trends data for searches following shootings at Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook Elementary School and San Bernardino, California, ThinkProgress concluded Sunday afternoon that concerns raised by the incident in Orlando will wane within days.

If past trends hold true, Sunday’s mass shooting will “be in America’s rear-view mirror by early August, at the latest,” ThinkProgress determined.

Indeed, a separate analysis undertaken by ABC News this week indicated that Google searches for terms including “gun control,” “gun per capita” and “gun violence statistics” all surged in the immediate aftermath of those tragedies and others before interest decreased days, and sometimes hours, later.

President Obama has called Sunday’s massacre “a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school or in a house of worship or a movie theater or in a nightclub,”

“And we have to decide if that’s the kind of country we want to be, and to actively do nothing is a decision as well,” Mr. Obama said Sunday.

Public Radio International said anti-Islamic search terms including “kill Muslims” and “Muslim ban” also spiked significantly after Sunday morning’s attack in Florida — the first sudden surge of its kind since terrorists conducted a series of attacks in Brussels back in March.

As seen with shooting-related searches, those Islamophobic inquiries have already begun tapering off as well less than a week after Sunday’s mass shooting.


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