As radio, television and newspaper reporters share the latest updates on the various hostage situations taking place in the Middle East, Internet users are turning to search engines to try and find more even more news and updates about the situation.

The Lycos Top 50, which tracks search term trends via queries across the Terra Lycos family of sites, was updated this week to show increased searches for a number of individuals involved with the latest rounds of hostage taking.

Showing up on the list at #2 for the first time this week was 33 year old Kim Sun il who was held hostage and later executed by a group of suspected al Qaeda terrorists. Kim, a South Korean national was kidnapped while working as a translator in Iraq. His death was the third reported beheading by terrorists this summer.

Closely behind Kim, in the #3 position was 49 year old Paul Johnson. Johnson, a Lockheed Martin Corp. employee was kidnapped by terrorists while working on Apache helicopters in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia earlier this month. Johnson entered the Lycos Top 50 last week in the number one position before dropping down the list upon news of Kim's execution.

Also making the top five was 26 year old American Nick Berg, who has remained on the list for seven weeks. Berg, who owned a communications equipment company who had vocally supported the war in Iraq disappeared while working there this past April. In May, video footage of Berg's execution by Islamic radicals showed up on the Internet and was the top news story in countries around the world. The controversy surrounding Berg's death and the number of conspiracy based Web sites that have sprung up to discuss it have kept his name front and center in Internet search queries.

Other terror and war related phrases appearing in the top 50 this week include the War in Iraq, coming in at #18 and controversial director Michael Moore (#47) whose Fahrenheit 9/11 too the top spot at the box office over the weekend, despite appearing on only 868 screens.
July 1, 2004

Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.

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