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Osama Bin Laden, Charlie Sheen among top Facebook 'memes' of 2011

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Osama Bin Laden

© Rex Features

The death of Osama Bin Laden, Charlie Sheen and the royal wedding were among the most discussed topics on Facebook this year, it has been announced.

Facebook has revealed the biggest cultural trends - or memes - of 2011, taking a "pulse" of the stories, celebrities, TV shows and music that have been most talked about by the site's 800m-plus members over the 12 months.

The death of terrorist leader Bin Laden in a raid by US Special Forces in May was the biggest global topic, including nearly 10% of all status updates in English mentioning the news when it broke on May 1.

This was followed by the Green Bay Packers beating the Pittsburgh Steelers to win the Super Bowl in February.

In a top ten heavily slanted towards the US, next came Casey Anthony, who was cleared of the murder of her 2-year-old daughter Caylee in a hugely controversial legal case in America.

Charlie Sheen presents the award for outstanding lead actor in a comedy series at the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards
Charlie Sheen was the fourth most popular topic, after the actor hit the headlines with a series of high-profile rants following his sacking from US TV show Two and a Half Men, and fifth was the death of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs in October.

The royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton was the sixth most popular topic worldwide, but it was the number one status trend among Facebook's around 35m UK members.

This was followed by the riots that engulfed the UK in August and ITV2's hit reality show The Only Way Is Essex (the 'reem' phrase featured on the show also appeared in the top ten). The deaths of singer Amy Winehouse and Bin Laden came fourth and fifth respectively.

The full global memes list runs as follows:

1. Death of Osama Bin Laden
2. Packers win the Superbowl
3. Casey Anthony found not guilty
4. Charlie Sheen
5. Death of Steve Jobs
6. Royal wedding
7. Death of Amy Winehouse
8. Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3
9. Military operations Begin in Libya
10. Hurricane Irene

The top ten UK status trends was:

1. Royal wedding
2. UK riots
3. The Only Way Is Essex
4. Death of Amy Winehouse
5. Death of Osama Bin Laden
6. Death of Muammar Gaddafi
7. Jessie J
8. Ed Sheeran
9. Call of Duty: Modern Ware 3
10. Reem

Facebook logo
Facebook has also revealed the 40 most shared news articles of 2011, including pieces covering the earthquake in Japan, the death of Steve Jobs and a father-daughter dance medley.

In a blog post, Facebook's Jonathan Chang said that "lms" became the fastest-growing viral meme of 2011, as users urged others to "like my status" and get a response in the comments.

He revealed that lms was often twinned with "tbh" - or "to be honest" - to give honest feedback to friends, meaning the "most iconic" status update of 2011 was "lms for a tbh".

"Each year, millions of people post on Facebook to share what's important to them, discuss world events, or just catch up with friends. With more than 800 million people connected around the globe on Facebook, news about the world's triumphs and tragedies spreads fast," said Chang.

"Memology takes the pulse of this global community by comparing this year's status updates to last year's, unearthing the most popular topics and cultural trends - or memes - emerging on Facebook. Whether it's hmu, lms or tbh, each year brings a new set of three letter acronyms that go viral."

Chang said that Planking, involving people lying face down in unusual locations, enjoyed a spurt of popularity on Facebook in May, but members soon lost interest, despite celebrities such as Tom Green, Chris Brown and Katy Perry drawing attention to it.

> Charlie Sheen, Arab Spring most popular 2011 Twitter hashtags
> Apple iPhone tops 2011 most searched list on Yahoo

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