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Here’s what the French googled in 2016

It's that time when we look back at where our fingers took us on the internet this year through the medium of Google's Year in Search.

Here's what the French googled in 2016
Forget the Loucre, let's play some Pokémon Go! Photo: AFP

And what a year it has been: The French right-wing primaries, Pokémon go, Donald Trump and Euro 2016 kept us glued to our screens. And all of this is reflected in French search habits, but some of the questions people typed into their devices were more idiosyncratic, with Scrabble cheats for example making a surprise appearance. 

So, onto the list: Here’s how French keyboard bashers spent their time in 2016. 

Politicians 

Donald Trump dominated international news cycles with his flaming cocktail of opinions and character assassinations that made liberals the world over chortle with glee because they were going to lose him the US election. He was always likely to top this search list. 

But with France’s upcoming presidential election predicted to be a run-off between Francois Fillon and Marine Le Pen, it’s perhaps surprising that he didn't make the top five and she’s not even in the top ten. Expect to see a lot more of them in 2017. 

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In the news 

The Euro 2016 football tournament was held in France and the nation got behind a team that came so close to winning a first major competition since the World Cup-winning side in 1998. Losing the final to Portugal was a massive disappointment but at least Pokemon Go helped people take their minds off things. Oh, and then there was at the small matter of the US election in fifth place, but the result was a foregone conclusion… 

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The how questions

These questions perhaps give a little glimpse into the national psyche, so how do we interpret this apparent willingness to cheat in the noblest game: Scrabble? 

  1. How to download Pokémon Go 
  2. How to vote in the right-wing primary 
  3. How to signal dissatisfaction with his leadership
  4. How to know if I please him 
  5. How to cheat at Scrabble 

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Definitions 

This gives us another little peek inside people’s brains. So should we be concerned that French internet users are trying to work out what empathy and bipolar mean? 

 

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The songs 

French Googlers could’t get enough of this charity hit by Kids United. The child singers scored a huge hit with their reworking of a song once recorded by Greek singer Demis Roussous, and the proceeds went to Unicef. At the time of writing this video had racked up more than 134 million views on YouTube. 

Sportspeople 

Antoine Griezmann emerged as the star of Euro 2016 from a French standpoint, with his six goals earning him the Golden Boot. Relive some wonderful memories here, including his double strike against Germany that propelled France into the final. 

Films 

Deadpool was one of the biggest grossing movies of 2016 and Marvel fans basically live on the internet, which might explain the film’s search-engine success. 

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That's it for this year's list. And remember: you don't have to cheat at French Scrabble, you just have to memorize the entire French dictionary, like this New Zealander who won the French championship despite not speaking any French. 

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BUSINESS

Google flags higher ad rates in France and Spain after digital tax

Google has told customers that it will raise the rates for advertisements on its French and Spanish platforms by two percent from May to help offset the impact of a digital tax on profits.

Google flags higher ad rates in France and Spain after digital tax

France has collected the levy since 2019, and Spain since this year, under
pressure from voters to make US tech giants pay a greater share of taxes in
countries where they operate.

The ad rate increase is to “cover a part of the cost of conforming to laws
concerning taxes on digital services in France and Spain,” the internet giant
said in an e-mail seen by AFP.

In France, internet companies with more than 750 million euros ($895
million) in worldwide sales, and 25 million in France, must pay a three
percent tax on their French operations, notably advertising sales and
marketplace operations.

Spain also charges a three-percent tax on some of their businesses.

Jean-Luc Chetrit, head of the Union des Marques, an alliance of major
brands, said Google’s decision would “amputate the investment capacity of
brands at a time when all companies are going through an unprecedented crisis.”

Google did not respond to AFP’s requests for comment, but Karan Bhatia, its head of government affairs, warned in February that “Taxes on digital services complicate efforts to reach a balanced agreement that works for all countries.”

“We urge these governments to reconsider what are essentially tariffs, or
at least suspend them while negotiations continue,” he said.

Google as well as Apple, Facebook and Amazon – grouped together as “GAFA” – are in the crosshairs of European governments that accuse them of exploiting common market rules to declare all profits in the bloc in low-tax
jurisdictions such as Ireland or Luxembourg.

Critics say they are depriving national tax authorities of millions of euros even as they profit from a surge in online activities because of home-working and social distancing rules during the Covid-19 crisis.

The companies counter that they are being unfairly targeted by discriminatory levies.

Google logo
Google logo. Photo: Eva HAMBACH / AFP

Global deal?

Amazon had already responded to the French tax last October by raising the rates it charges France-based marketplace sellers by three percent.

Apple followed suit by raising the commission it charges developers who
sell apps on its platform not only in France, but also in Italy and Britain.

The French tax move on global digital companies made it a pioneer in the
struggle to find a fair fiscal system for internet multinationals whose tax
bill is often tiny compared to their income.

Contacted by AFP, Facebook said it had no plans to raise prices for ads in
France or Spain for now as it waited for a global accord on fiscal rules.

The French tax brought in 400 million euros to government coffers in 2019,
and the government applied the levy again last year despite pressure from the Trump administration to drop it.

With President Joe Biden in the White House, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) – which is overseeing negotiations on a digital tax – has said it hopes a G20 finance ministers’ meeting in July will hammer out an agreement on the issue.

Last month, the new US Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen, said Washington
would no longer insist on a “safe harbour” clause that would effectively make participation in a global tax scheme optional, removing a key sticking point with EU officials.

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