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By Associated Press

The U.S. won't elect a president until next year, but the debate over the crowded field of candidates jostling for the Oval Office emerged as the hottest topic on Facebook this year.

The race for the Democratic and Republican party nominations eclipsed an outpouring of emotions over deadly attacks, strife, social issues and disasters.

The rankings released Wednesday open a window into the cultural mindset by analyzing how frequently specific high-profile events, politicians, entertainers, athletes, movies and TV shows were mentioned in the posts of Facebook's 1.5 billion users.

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"This year, the most talked about global topics reflected the serious challenges people are facing all over the world — and how our global community is connecting and coming together in ways we have never seen before," said Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer.

Here's a glimpse at how the world looked on Facebook this year:


The polarizing candidacy of billionaire former reality-TV star Donald Trump helped drive early interest in who will win next year's race to succeed President Barack Obama. Facebook says last week's shootings in San Bernardino didn't trigger enough discussion to break into the top five.

1. U.S. presidential election

2. Nov. 13 attacks in Paris

3. Syrian civil war and refugee crisis

4. Nepal earthquakes

5. Greek debt crisis