Why Cleopatra was the most searched on Wikipedia last year: Google is to blame

When the year 2022 was coming to an end, all kinds of readings began to appear about what was most consumed on the Internet in that year. In Spain we were able to see the most viewed on YouTube and our most listened to songs on Spotify, as well as the most viewed on Wikipedia at the end of that year. But Taha Yasseri, author of the compilations of the most viewed articles, noticed something: the most viewed on Wikipedia it was Cleopatra.

Although the Egyptian personality continues to be relevant today, let us remember that in 2022 authentic phenomena such as dahmer, the Netflix series starring Evan Peters that caused a sensation among the masses. And it is not for less, since in second place below Cleopatra is the Wikipedia page for Jeffrey Dahmer, the serial killer who died in 1994. So what’s going on?

The truth is Google has to see. And it is that the reason why Cleopatra’s page on Wikipedia exceeds those of the War in Ukraine and Russia or that of Queen Elizabeth II of England It’s simple: Google’s virtual assistant, Google Assistant.

the google assistant

Yasseri, a computational social scientist, compiled statistics on the most viewed Wikipedia articles of 2022. The list was marked by some of the biggest events of the year; the most visited pages were the men’s World Cup, that of Elon Musk and Johnny Depp, as well as that of the Queen of England. But Cleopatra surpassed all these statistics, even taking into account that Jeffrey Dahmer’s Wikipedia website had 54 million hits.

There is a lot to reel off, as there were no events that would propel Cleopatra’s web that high. There was also no news or releases of any kind that would boost her popularity; nor was any specific event pointed to as a cause, since in addition the average interest on-line to these events is usually a few days.

On the left, visits to the Dahmer website.  On the right, those of Cleopatra.

On the left, visits to the Dahmer website. On the right, those of Cleopatra.

Taha Yasseri


The answer is the google assistant. And it is that this is an assistant launched in 2016, which as of the date of writing this article, has over a billion downloads and has at least 500 million monthly users. Let’s remember that Android is one of the most used operating systems in the world, and the assistant is activated together with these Android phones.

Once started, the assistant asks the user to speak to register their voice or provides some examples of the requests that users can make. “Opens [una aplicación]”, “set a timer” or “tell me a joke” are the most popular. But interestingly, among those examples the application can ask users to repeat this phrase: “shows to Cleopatra on Wikipedia.

[¿Cómo serían Julio César, Nefertiti o Napoleón en la actualidad? Un artista y una IA nos lo muestran]

Yasseri, therefore, has reached the conclusion that in 2022 there were at least 50 million people who followed this example, and asked Wikipedia to open Cleopatra’s web page. And it is that when saying said phrase, the assistant Opens the Cleopatra Wikipedia page. In other words, your website was the most viewed simply because one of the Google Assistant examples asks you to open this website. The peak of visits occurred since 2020, moment in which the assistant began to become popular.

Thus, the popularity of a virtual assistant has astronomically boosted the website of a personality that would otherwise be completely nondescript for a good majority of users. Something striking, since as Yasseri explains in his article, the volumes of use of Wikipedia and Google searches are often used to establish studies on the dynamics of attention and popularity on the Internet. And in this case, chance wanted to play an almost leading role.

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