Why do some people think Twitter is shutting down in 2017?

Thomas the Tank Engline Image copyright Twitter

Truth doesn't often get in the way of a good social media rumour. But word that one of the giants of social media platforms decided to shut down got the microblogging community all fired up.

The hashtag #SaveTwitter was the world's top trend as of Thursday morning. Intriguingly, Twitter didn't rush to debunk it either.

The rumour doing the rounds is that outspoken YouTuber BradTheLadLong, who posts videos commenting on celebrities, had saved copies of all the abuse he has received on the social media platform and managed to convince the powers-that-be that Twitter is not doing a good enough job in protecting people from online abuse.

So as a result of Brad's lobbying, Twitter, the story goes, decided to shut up shop next year. And Brad's Twitter account is certainly not discouraging the idea that Twitter's little blue bird is due to get its neck wrung.

Image copyright Twitter

There has been an immediate online reaction to the virtual whispers. Some wondered what the world would do without a platform to share their 140 character thoughts.

Image copyright Twitter
Image copyright Twitter

The troops rallied to defend Twitter. One user, named Miryah Lewis from Canada, started a Change.org petition to demonstrate her solidarity with the social media site. Others illustrated their loyalty by posting Game of Thrones gifs; an oft-demonstrated Twitter rallying call.

Image copyright Twitter

And some took the view that if a social media giant had to be sacrificed...

Image copyright Twitter/_velvetzalfie

Twitter and trolling have been under the spotlight recently. Girl band Fifth Harmony's Normani Kordei said on Saturday that she will be deactivating her Twitter after years of cyberbullying.

Last month the actress Leslie Jones, from the new Ghostbusters movie, left Twitter because she said she has been on the receiving end of racist and sexist abuse. She described the experience as her own "personal hell." Jones has since reactivated her account following Twitter's decision to suspend her high-profile agitator Milo Yiannopoulos from its platform.

But would Twittergeddon really stop cyberbullying? Some felt it wouldn't.

Image copyright Twitter

So what is the truth?

We'll get there but bear with us just a few more seconds while we give you a brief background on BradTheLadLong, the starter of the shutdown rumour. He has been known for starting false rumours in the past. Last year he claimed, against several reports to the contrary, that Louis Tomlinson from One Direction was not going to be a father. That was proved to be not the case when the boyband member announced the birth of his son earlier this year on Twitter.

Image copyright YoutTube
Image caption YouTuber BradTheLadLong is known for his outspoken YouTube videos

And Twitter themselves? A spokesperson told BBC Trending that while they will not be releasing a formal statement, there is "no truth to this claim whatsoever." They also referred us to several of their guidelines on safety and respect, and this op-ed from head of public policy in the UK, Nick Pickles, in which he talks about Twitter's foundational principles:

"The tolerant outnumber the intolerant, the peaceful outnumber the abusive. The challenge is ensuring that the noise generated by those who seek to create division is drowned out by voices of hope and respect."

Blog by Megha Mohan and additional research by Tallulah Berry

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