Spears tops Yahoo list of searches

Times Staff Writer

Yahoo prides itself on the speed of its search engine, so maybe that's why the Internet company just released its year-end activity report with more than three weeks of December remaining. Regardless, it was a banner year for celebrity culture, at least according to areas of interest tracked by Yahoo searches.

Britney Spears, who released no new music this year, was the most searched-for topic, thanks to her divorce plans, her son's birth and that new penchant for going out without underwear.

After Spears, the most popular search terms were, in order, the WWE (the pro wrestling league), Shakira, Jessica Simpson and Paris Hilton. The most-searched news story was the death of "Crocodile Hunter" star Steve Irwin, followed by the death of Anna Nicole Smith's son and then the war in Iraq.

Yahoo also gathers answers to questions posed by well-known voices; the query that led with the most responses by the public (36,859) was put forward by Oprah Winfrey: "If you were given $1,000 to change the life of a perfect stranger, what would you do?" Other questions that grabbed the public's imagination: Bono's "What can we do to make poverty history?" (29,479 answers); Deepak Chopra's "What do you think happens to your soul when you die?" (26,817); Stephen Hawking's "How can the human race survive the next hundred years?" (25,391) and, returning to celeb sensibilities, R&B; star Ciara's riveting question: "Who should I sing a duet with?" (14,799).

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