Google Trends and Gun Safety

My favorite analytics tool for tech is Google Trends. It was formerly known as “Google Insights for Search” and it shows how many people search for certain terms over time. We use it at SV Angel when doing diligence on an investment opportunity.

I prefer this to free tools like Compete and Alexa because those services don’t always capture mobile usage, downloads, etc or other zeitgeist. Neither does Google Trends for that matter, but it is a rough proxy that gives directional guidance on whether something is trending. Hal Varian, Chief Economist at Google, talks about how Google uses Google Trends to “predict the future.

I bring this up because I recently saw Google search traffic for “gun control.” As the folks at #DemandAPlan demonstrate, the awareness of this issue has spiked since the tragic events in Newtown. Upworthy shows a chart here. It’s easy to conflate correlation and causation here but it’s awesome to see awareness on this issue is growing.

I apologize in advance if people are put off by the quasi-political nature of this post. Or if they think that I am marginalizing the tragedy by making a point about Google Trends. For disclosure, I support or any initiative that supports non-partisan (in my view) legislation that criminalizes gun trafficking and owning assault weapons and requires a criminal background check for all guns. I also understand that gun control is only part of the problem; but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to treat the symptoms.

Finally, I’m joining others to observe a moment of silence to honor the victims of Newtown tomorrow, Friday Dec. 21 at 9:30 AM ET.

Please join me by clicking here: