Trending: East Harlem, SXSW, Rutgers’ dramatic loss and Malaysia’s missing flight

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Trending: East Harlem, SXSW, Rutgers’ dramatic loss and Malaysia’s missing flight

Posted on: March 15th, 2014 by tommyj

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A New York neighborhood became the talk of the world this week when an explosion caused the collapse of two East Harlem buildings.

The Wednesday morning blast killed at least 8 people and injured at least 60.

Both East Harlem and Manhattan emerged as global Twitter trends alongside Harlem on news of the #HarlemExplosion.

The fatal blast filled 500,000 Google searches Wednesday.

According to widespread reports, neighbors said they had smelled gas before the incident, a gas leak thought to be the cause of the destruction. The buildings’ aging cast-iron pipes are reported to be one possible cause of the gas explosion.

sxsw-two-killed-drunk-driver.jpgFlowers near the site in Austin where Rashad Charjuan Owens, 21, of Killeen, Texas, collided with a bicycle and a moped, killing two people and injuring 23. 

SXSW crash

All week, the South by Southwest festival trended as #SXSW. But early Thursday, the news surrounding the Austin event wasn’t about music, movies or technology.

Two people were killed at the festival after a man — who police suspected to be driving drunk — drove through barricades, injuring more than 20. SXSW became the subject of more than 500,000 searches that day.

#sxswcrash trended as the victims’ names were released Thursday and a vigil was held for those lost. The incident happened near the site of a Tyler the Creator concert.


College basketball

It was a truly up and down day for New Jersey college basketball Wednesday, both on the court and online.

First, Seton Hall trended around the world for a 64-63 buzzer-beater win for the Pirates over the No. 3-seeded Villanova Wildcats in the Big East Tournament.

But the day would play out a bit differently for Rutgers’ Scarlet Knights. As the team got pummeled by the University of Louisville Cardinals in the AAC Tournament (100,000 searches Thursday), the university trended worldwide. So did the final score, Louisville besting Rutgers 92-31.

colin-powell-selfie-throwback-thursday-facebook.jpgGen. Colin Powell won a lot of social media points this week with is throwback ‘selfie.’ 

Colin Powell’s retro selfie

While he doesn’t have a Twitter account, Gen. Colin Powell, former secretary of state, trended worldwide and shook things up on Facebook when he posted a photo of himself from the 1950s.

Why did the photo make so much noise? Specifically because he took it in the style of a selfie — a self-portrait captured when he positioned a camera in front of a mirror.

"Throwback Thursday," Powell chirped. "I was doing selfies 60 years before you Facebook folks. Eat your heart out Ellen!"

Powell was referring to Ellen DeGeneres’ celebrity selfie taken earlier this month at the Oscars, one that sought to break — and smashed — President Obama’s retweet record, with more than 3 million retweets.

Powell’s Facebook tally, as of yesterday: 104,197 likes, 25,979 shares and 3,086 comments.

Galifianakis or die

Humor website Funny or Die is having a good run this month. Last week, its HUVr hoverboard hoax video boasted the likes of Christopher Lloyd and Tony Hawk, proving to be instant viral gold.

On Tuesday, the site did it again with "Between Two Ferns," the talk show spoof periodically hosted by actor-comedian Zach Galifianakis. Only this installment got more attention than others, since Galifianakis’ big "get" was President Obama.

"Ferns" trended worldwide on Twitter and drew more than 1 million searches for the sketch, in which Obama simultaneously plugs and insults Galifianakis about his role in "The Hangover III." Citing Dennis Rodman’s trip to North Korea — he manages to call the country "North Ikea" — Galifianakis asks the president if he intends on sending Hulk Hogan to Syria.

In the headlines

As interest in news on Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 held strong, "Malaysia plane" received more than 100,000 queries this week, with U.S. government officials reporting the search would expand from the South China and Andaman seas (Andaman Islands got 200,000 searches Thursday) to the Indian Ocean.

Related: 100,000 searches Tuesday for Tomnod, a crowdsourcing site that uses public input to search and tag points of interest in satellite images, in this case looking for any evidence pertaining to the missing flight.

Jamaican dancehall artist Vybz Kartel got international tweets and 50,000 searches Thursday after he and three others were found guilty of murdering a man in 2011.

Austin "Chumlee" Russell of the History channel reality show "Pawn Stars" got 200,000 searches Wednesday after he became the victim of a death hoax claiming he’d suffered a heart attack.

"May we live long, Rich forever," Russell (@chumlee_) tweeted in reply, quoting a lyric from the rapper Rick Ross.

Thursday saw 500,000 searches for Pi (Day) as "Happy Pi Day" hit Twitter yesterday, when and St. Patrick’s Day also briefly trended.

Sunday was all about big TV events, as #CosmosPremiere — "Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey," the "Cosmos" reboot hosted by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson on Fox — arrived to much Twitter fanfare. Nielsen’s Twitter TV Ratings show the premiere drew 167,000 tweets. The new series, souped up with digital effects, also propelled original host Carl Sagan into tweets.

So did the first season #Finale, which, according to Nielsen, generated 97,000 tweets. The popularity of the show even caused problems with HBO Go, the cable network’s online service.

And George Zimmerman was back in searches Wednesday on news that his parents were suing Roseanne Barr for tweeting their home address.

Rapper Lil Boosie got trending (50,000 searches Tuesday) for a post-prison press conference — #boosiespeaks — in New Orleans Monday.

But #asksnowden was also all the rage. As part of South by Southwest, a remote question session was organized with NSA leaker Edward Snowden in which participants tweeted their queries. While Snowden — who trended globally for the chat of sorts — may not have answered them all, here’s a taste:

@bryceseifert: "When are you going to get a new portrait taken? They keep using the same one from your first interview."

@MisterFjord: "dude, how crazy was Red Wedding? did you totally freak? I did." (A reference to a gruesome "Game of Thrones" episode.)

@TimKarr: "Why aren’t you on Twitter?"

@Johnnywales: "If i don’t properly discard of my chicken marinade, ‘What different does it make?’ "

@nifkin_juice: "How did you come up with the name ‘Imagine Dragons’?"

Trending is a weekly column monitoring Twitter, Google and the web. Follow Amy Kuperinsky .

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