As a result of their market domination, Google has become more of an institution than a search engine. Therefore, Google’s search data is incredibly indicative of public opinion and interests. Google Trends is an application that’s particularly useful as a timely, robust, and sensitive surveillance system. While it is useful to advertisers looking to create keywords to market their products, we can also use it to create charts that show how often horse slaughter issues and phrases are searched for over time by all Google users interested in acquiring more information on this subject.
An analysis of the term “horse slaughter” in Google Trends shows us how popular the search term is currently as well as in the recent past. I’ve compared the stats from 2004 to 2014 year-to-date for the United States (blue), Canada (gold), and the United Kingdom (red). Initially I compared these countries to France, Japan, Switzerland, Mexico and China, expecting to see some tangible increase over time yet Google Trends yielded no measurable activity.
From the chart we can see that horse slaughter in the US was trending long before the United Kingdom or Canada, which began trending mid-2007 and 2008 respectively. The uptick in slaughter keyword trending activity in Canada began a few years after the launch of the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition in 2004, and seems to be linked to that group’s 2008 publication of Black Beauty Betrayed, an Early Investigation at Natural Valley Farms, and the issue of Illegal Dumping of Horse Blood at Natural Valley Farms.
Key points in the graph also register the heightened activity in the US and Canada due to:
- House votes on horse slaughter in the US (2006)
- Anti-horse slaughter bills advancing in Congress (2007)
There was a huge spike in late 2011 likely due to:
- The US “ban” on domestic horse slaughter being lifted when Congress passed, when Obama signed into law a USDA spending bill that reinstated federal funding for inspection of horse meat intended for human consumption
- Developing interest in Rick De Los Santos horse slaughter plant in New Mexico
- Valley Meats first application for a grant of inspection with the USDA in December
- The CHDC releasing footage and photos obtained by an anonymous source at Les Viandes de la Petite-Nation in St. Andre-Avellin Quebec (Pasture to Plate)
Also note the increased interest in horse slaughter search terms as a result of the horse meat adulteration scandal in the EU (January – March 2013)
Currently we see that horse slaughter as a keyword search appears to be tapering off in 2013 and 2014 YTD, perhaps due to the cessation of slaughter in the US, the subsiding interest in the horse meat adulteration in Great Britain, and the failure of the anti-slaughter bills in Canada. At the present time, interest in “horse slaughter” as a keyword appears to be in decline relative to the heightened activity from 2006 – early 2013.