12 of Memeburn’s most popular articles in 2012

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It’s been a big year in tech. Red Bull Stratos’ mission smashed through the previous records for most concurrent live views when eight-million people clicked through to its YouTube stream, and a music video which featured a Korean man doing a horse dance became the most watched video with over a billion views. Facebook hit a billion users, Twitter topped 200-million monthly active users and the Samsung Galaxy S III smashed sales records, selling 30-million units 157 days after launch. Google launched a Dropbox competitor, Apple released the iPad Mini and a rover called Curiosity checked-in from Mars on Foursquare.

As everyone reflects on 2012 and starts putting out their lists of the biggest and best, we thought we’d put together a list of our own. These are the top twelve articles we published this year, ranked according to the number of pageviews.

12. 15 of the coolest creative Facebook Timeline hacks

When Facebook switched over to its new Timeline view for profiles, it introduced a feature that hadn’t existed before: cover photos. We rounded up some of the people who made the best use of the opportunity to integrate their profile photo with the larger image.

11. Google is f*cking with The Oatmeal

Back in August, The Oatmeal’s Matthew Inman said some not-so-nice things about Google+, and complained about the fact that you couldn’t get a vanity URL for your page (at the time), and instead had to use some long link like “http://plus.google.com/blergasdf1234thimbleturdorgasm99meatpoopypoopxv9donkeypie“. So the Google team decided to play a joke on him, by redirecting that — um, interesting — address to his Google+ page. And it hasn’t killed it — more than four months later, the link still works.

10. WikiLeaks launches encrypted social network

While Facebook may not have to step aside just yet, Friends of Wikileaks (FoWL) was created to allow the organisation to provide a network for “people from across the globe who defend WikiLeaks, its people, its alleged sources and its mission”. It also allows its members to easily donate to the whistle-blowing group.

9. #Steers special goes wrong, causes social media storm

June 13 is probably a day Steers’ social media management team wishes it could forget. When the fast food chain offered a one-day-only special, it completely underestimated the demand for cheap rib burgers, as well as the amount of abuse unhappy customers could pack into 140 characters. There were also a range of entertaining tweets mocking the devotion to meat and almost live-blogging the action as restaurant staff struggled to meet the demand.

8. Instagram envy: 4 similar photo apps for BlackBerry users

This article may as well have been written for Windows Phone users too — Instagram is arguably the most wanted app for smartphone users who don’t own something running iOS or an Android device. Microsoft has said it is working on bringing the retro photography app to Windows Phone, and there are varying reports about the likelihood that January’s BlackBerry 10 launch will be shortly proceeded by a new platform announcement by Instagram. But until then, there are a few photo editing apps in BlackBerry App World that try to match the Instagram experience.

7. Don’t Google it: 9 Alternative search engine options

When the big G lets you down, or you start to get concerned about it knowing too much about you, you can switch to a number of alternatives. From specialised niche search engines to ones which have more human input and fewer algorithms, there are up-and-coming services which could help you find what you’re looking for.

6. 72+ of the best social media campaigns worldwide

Agencies and companies from 40 countries like China, Israel, the US and South Africa were awarded for their social media efforts at the Bees Awards in May this year — this list rounds up the efforts the judges thought were the most inspiring and creative.

5. Caspar Lee: A web star unknown in his own country

Ah, Caspar Lee. South African teenager, YouTube sensation, cause of fangirl squealing the world over. The Bieber-esque video star managed to rack up thousands of Twitter followers, subscribers and millions of views with his dry sense of humour — all without the majority of citizens realising who he was. This article looks at how he managed it.

4. Sick of Skype? Try these 9 alternatives

Not the biggest Skype fan? While the company has become almost synonymous with the words ‘video call’, there are other services out there that offer the same functionality on a variety of different platforms — from desktop to mobile.

3. 13 more of the coolest hidden Google tricks

In case you weren’t aware, there are a number of easter eggs (quirky surprises hidden in the code) inside Google services. In this follow-up article, we found out how to make search results tilt, plot a heart on a graph, play Snake on YouTube and get Google Translate to beat box, among other things.

2. Hoax: Samsung paid Apple its $1-billion in damages in nickels

In August, Apple won a major legal battle against Samsung after a US court found that the Korean company’s products infringed on Apple patents. Samsung was ordered to pay US$1.049-billion in compensation — and someone started a rumour that it had done so, by delivering the cash to Apple HQ in 5-cent pieces carried in 30 armoured trucks.

1. 17 of the coolest hidden Google tricks

The most popular story on the site this year involved the Loch Ness Monster, Lord of the Rings, penguins and Chuck Norris. The original story on Google’s easter eggs and quirky ‘I’m feeling lucky’ results shows how you can ask Gmail to do your laundry, make a ninja appear in Google Reader and make the search page collapse.

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