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Google data reveal users’ obsessions for 2012

LOS ANGELES — The world’s attention wavered between the tragic and the silly in 2012, and along the way, Web surfers searched in huge numbers to find out about a royal princess, the latest iPad, and a record-breaking skydiver.

Whitney Houston was the ‘‘top trending’’ search of the year, according to Google’s year-end ‘‘zeitgeist’’ report. Google’s 12th annual roundup is ‘‘an in-depth look at the spirit of the times as seen through the billions of searches on Google over the past year,’’ the company said Wednesday.

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People around the globe searched for news about Houston’s accidental drowning in a bathtub just before she was to perform at a pre-Grammy Awards party in February.

Google defines topics as ‘‘trending’’ when they garner a high amount of traffic during a sustained period of time.

Korean rapper PSY’s ‘‘Gangnam Style’’ music video trotted into second spot, a testament to his self-deprecating giddy-up dance move.

Hurricane Sandy, a storm that flooded parts of the East Coast in the midst of a US presidential campaign, was third.

The next biggest trending searches globally were a pair of threes: the iPad 3 tablet from Apple Inc. and Diablo 3, a popular video game.

Also in the Top 10 were Kate Middleton, who made news with scandalous photos and a royal pregnancy; the 2012 Olympics in London; Amanda Todd, a Canadian teenager found dead of an apparent suicide in October after being bullied online; Michael Clarke Duncan, the ‘‘Green Mile’’ actor who died of a heart attack at age 54; and ‘‘BBB12,’’ 12th edition of ‘‘Big Brother Brasil,’’ a reality television show.

And people were happy to pass on popular Twitter posts by retweeting them. According to Twitter, the year’s most popular retweets were President Obama’s ‘‘Four more years.’’

The top searches

1. Whitney Houston

2. ‘‘Gangnam Style’’ music

3. Hurricane Sandy

4. iPad 3 tablet

5. Diablo 3 video game

6. Kate Middleton

7. 2012 Olympics

8. Amanda Todd

9. Michael Clarke Duncan

10. BBB12 (TV show)

SOURCE: Google

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