RSS feed
Trending blog
26 January 2015 Last updated at 02:25

Trends of the week - in 60 seconds

How did singer Taylor Swift react after the Dover police in Delaware chose her song for a lip-sync video? And what happened when Miss Israel posted a selfie with Miss Lebanon?

These, and more social media trends of the week, in our 60-second round-up.

And if a minute's not enough, check out the best of our blogs and videos from the past week.

Produced by Samiha Nettikkara and Anna Meisel

Video and picture credits: Dover Police Department, Citizen TV, Instagram/DoronMatalon, Getty Images

You can hear more from the BBC Trending team on BBC World Service every Saturday at 10:30 GMT, and you can subscribe to the free podcast here.

Want to watch more Trending videos? Subscribe to our YouTube channel here.


Pegida, Spanish humour, Kenyan hotel reviews: #BBCTrending's videos of the week

It's been a busy week at BBC Trending. Here are our video choices - in case you missed them the first time around.

A spoof make-up tutorial went gone viral on YouTube after mocking the appearance of Pegida spokeswoman Kathrin Oertel. We talked to its creator, a 25-year-old radio presenter (and now viral make-up artist).

In a country where it is dangerous to confront extremism, a video posted on Facebook by two young Pakistani film-makers showed ordinary people taking a stand against the Taliban.

Kenyans hit upon a novel way to vent their anger about the tear-gassing of children trying to protect their playground from development. There have been allegations on social media that the land is wanted for a nearby hotel - so following a riot police crackdown, protesters posted negative reviews of the business on sites such as TripAdvisor.

And we visited Spain to follow political satirist Facu Diaz, who ended up summoned to a criminal court for a comedy sketch. Diaz was accused of mocking victims of terrorism in a video which used the iconography of the Basque armed organisation ETA. So what exactly are the limits of humour?

And also on our blog this week:

A year-long joke: the origins of the "never-ending" Twitter chain

Is this Canada's "most racist" city?

The conspiracy theories of Argentina's president

Why was this Kenyan blogger arrested for a tweet?

The beauty queen selfie that turned ugly

Videos by:

Andy Brownstone (Pegida makeover and Taliban message)

Ravin Sampat (Kenya hotel reviews)

Anne-Marie Tomchak, Alvaro A. Ricciardelli and Gabriela Torres (Spanish satirist)

Picture credit (Kenya): Getty Images, AFP, CitizenTV

Watch more videos on our YouTube channel or follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending.

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


Emoji portraits: the man making art out of symbols

Miley Cyrus emoji Miley Cyrus - in emojis

Who knew emojis - those goofy cartoonish symbols that are popping up all over the place - could be used to make highly detailed artworks?

Yung Jake, a rapper and perhaps the world's first notable emoji artist, has been sending out clever celebrity portraits to his 12,000 Twitter followers.

BBC Trending wanted to find out a little bit more about his inspiration, so we interviewed Yung Jake using - you guessed it - emojis.

emoji 1
emoji 2
emoji3
emoji3
emoji 5

And if that's not enough, here are some more of Yung Jake's creations:

Kim Kardashian
Jerry Seinfeld
emoji

Blog by Ravin Sampat and Mike Wendling

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


Ebola victim on Reddit: 'Only me and my father survived'

Ebola survivor from Liberia Mohammed survived Ebola and says his dream is to work for an NGO

You've heard the big numbers around the Ebola crisis - more than 8,000 deaths and counting, mainly in West Africa.

At those levels, the narrative often reduces people to numbers, humanity gets lost and the focus turns instead to the science of potential cures and vaccines.

But for a few minutes this week, a boy from Liberia asked people to forget what they thought they knew about the disease, as he told his story on a Reddit AMA ("ask me anything") thread: I am a 14-year-old Ebola survivor in remote Liberia.

Mohammed doing his AMA Mohammed is not used to using computers so he dictated his answers for the AMA

The session was particularly popular in America, attracting hundreds of comments and ensuring the post was trending on Reddit's front page over several days this week.

"A human needs to hear things like your story to truly feel for all of those numbers, I think," a grateful Redditor said.

Five people in Mohammed's family caught Ebola, and his grandmother and two sisters died. Mohammed and his father recovered.

"OMG I couldn't imagine having to deal with that," one Redditor replied.

"Meanwhile ... America blew a fuse because of 3 cases in the entire country," another responded.

Mohammed spent a month in quarantine and said: "I felt bad about myself. Because I needed help but I could not get help from my family or others that were close to me. I only got helped by strangers."

He appears to have no lasting physical effects from the disease, but said on the thread that the disease changed his outlook on life. Before he caught the virus he was working in a motorcycle repair shop.

"Now that I have experienced Ebola I would like to start going to school and not only be a mechanic," he told Redditors.

The AMA was organised by two gaming fans and philanthropists from Belgium who go by the names Reese and Athene, as part of fundraising for Ebola projects via their website Gamingforgood.net.

Athene told BBC Trending: "Ebola is falling off the news agenda now that it is mainly in the recovery stage. But there's still a lot of funding needed. We wanted to raise awareness with the AMA and show this situation and also reach out to our gaming audience.

"We've raised $20m for Save the Children in the past year and we wanted to try to help here.

"Mohammed was really keen to tell his story so we drove to where he lives. He wanted to do the AMA so that more people would know about people like him and he felt really good doing something that he knew would help the community if people donated to charity."

Imgur image of Ebola discharge certificate The certificate proving that Mohammed is Ebola-free

"The question that really seemed to get everyone going and took us by surprise was in response to someone offering him an Xbox. He didn't know what that was," Athene said. "He knows computers but has never really typed on one. So he told us the answers for the AMA and we replied."

"We made an effort to try to prove to the audience that he was real, so we were a bit concerned when somebody pointed out the age discrepancy on his discharge certificate which gives his age as 12 and the age we gave on Reddit. The thing is, age is not seen in the same way in Liberia as in Europe or the US. For ages they just guess."

Mohammed is back in his home village living with his father, and his goal is to work for an NGO.

"We're happy to be able to raise awareness in other countries and help to break stigma and generalisations around Ebola," Athene said.

Blog by Sitala Peek

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending.

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


#FreeSpeechStories: A 'Pegida makeover'

A spoof make-up tutorial has gone viral on YouTube after mocking the appearance of Pegida spokeswoman Kathrin Oertel.

The video shows a radio presenter pretending to shave off her eyebrows and tattoo new ones on - and slicking back her hair to mock Oertel's style.

The German organisation has been holding mass street rallies against what it calls the "anti-Islamisation" of Europe.

Large anti-Pegida demonstrations have been held across the country in protest.

Video by Andy Brownstone

Watch more videos on our YouTube channel or follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending.

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


FreeSpeechStories: 'A message for the Taliban'

There's been more online condemnation from Pakistanis over the Taliban attack which killed over 130 school children last month.

A video posted on Facebook by two young film-makers shows ordinary people taking a stand against the terrorists.

"A Message to the Taliban" has been widely shared since it was posted earlier this week.

In a country where it is dangerous to confront extremism, the video features Pakistanis saying it is the Taliban who should be afraid.

Video by Andy Brownstone

Watch more videos on our YouTube channel or follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending.

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


Winnipeg: Canada's most racist city?

Canada cover

The mayor of Winnipeg was surrounded by indigenous people as he spoke to the press Thursday - the same day his city was declared the most racist in Canada.

"Ignorance, hatred, intolerance, racism exist everywhere," Mayor Brian Bowman said, fighting back tears.

"Winnipeg has a responsibility right now to turn this ship around and change the way we all relate - aboriginal and non-aboriginal, Canadians alike from coast to coast to coast. … To do so, we have to shine a light on the problem we do have in Winnipeg, and the problem we share with communities across this nation, because without the light, we can't see what we're fighting."

Since his inauguration in November 2014, Mayor Brian Bowman has been seen as a bridge builder.

He is Winnipeg's first indigenous mayor, and is the first mayor to acknowledge in a speech (at his swearing-in ceremony and on Thursday) that Winnipeg was built on the traditional homeland of the Metis nation, who are descendents of indigenous people and European settlers.

But on Thursday, Maclean's magazine published "Welcome to Winnipeg: Where Canada's racism problem is at its worst."

Inspired by the recent murder of Aboriginal teenager Tina Fontaine, the article details life in a province where just 13% of the population has a "very favourable" view of Aboriginals, down from 32% in 2007.

In her article, author Nancy Macdonald cited social media to illustrate her argument.

"Oh Goddd how long are aboriginal people going to use what happened as a crutch to suck more money out of Canadians?' Winnipeg teacher Brad Badiuk, who is now on administrative leave, wrote on Facebook.

"They have contributed NOTHING to the development of Canada. Just standing with their hand out. Get to work, tear the treaties and shut the FK up already. Why am I on the hook for their cultural support?"

When Robert Falcon-Ouellette, director of the University of Manitoba's Aboriginal focus programmes, ran for mayor in Winnipeg, a shopper approached him with a finger pointed, reports Ms Macdonald.

"'You're that guy running for mayor. You're an Indian,' he said. …. 'I don't want to shake your hand. You Indians are the problem with the city. You're all lazy. You're drunks. The social problems we have in the city are all related to you.'"

The mayor, who is Metis, told the press gathered at Winnipeg City Hall, "we need to get real."

"It takes all of us working together, committed to inclusivity, equality, love and compassion for everyone. And we're here today to call on all Winnipegers and all Canadians to join us, to start this path to end racism right here at home and lead the nation in tolerance and love for one another."

By Thursday afternoon, Winnipeg was trending on Twitter in Canada, and many Winnipegers took to social media to comment.

Lisa Lee wrote on Facebook that she loves Winnipeg but admits that the city is in need of a crisis intervention.

"The situation of white vs native, and native vs native, is at an all time low. The city is torn apart by heart wrenching poverty and violence on a daily basis. There is literally a war happening, on the downtown streets, and has been for as long as I can remember."

Facebook user Nancy Geary took a different view.

"As someone who has married into a native family and has lived in and around Winnipeg most of my life I find this article very one sided. Countless times I have seen aboriginal people perpetuate these stereotypes which is why the masses believe them to be true!"

The debate continues on Maclean's Facebook page - and throughout the city of Winnipeg.

Reporting by Micah Luxen

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending.

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


#FreeSpeechStories: Arrested for a tweet

Cartoon of freedom of speech Bloggers and their supporters feel under threat in Kenya

Kenyans on Twitter, or KOT's as they're known, are asking whether the country is going through "dark days" after a blogger was arrested for tweeting.

"I posted a blog about mismanagement of funds in Isiolo County in eastern Kenya and shared it on Twitter," Abraham Mutai told BBC Trending. "Within hours my blog was taken down and my Twitter page was deactivated."

Mutai was arrested on Saturday afternoon in Mombasa, where he's based, and taken to the capital Nairobi. He was charged with "using a media platform to cause public anxiety."

He was released a day later and his blog and Twitter account were reinstated. He says the allegations he made about Isiolo County are now being followed up by authorities and he believes the 25,000 tweets under the hashtag #FreeMutai hastened his release.

"If we as bloggers don't take a stand right now, we may all suffer the same fate in the near future #FreeMutai," wrote Xtian Dela to his 400,000 followers. "If you remain quiet about Mutai, who will speak when they come for you?" asked Kenyan entrepreneur Francis Waithaka.

Despite the support, the experience had a chilling impact on how free Mutai feels to continue his work.

"Personally, I'm afraid right now." he says. "I'm thinking about my safety and I've already scaled back my tweets. Now I need to think twice about what I say online."

Mutai has become well known in Kenya for investigating corruption and explaining cases in short, easy-to-understand bursts.

@ItsMutai

Kenya passed a wide-ranging and controversial set of security measures in December in an attempt to combat the threat posed by Islamic militants from neighbouring Somalia. Some parts of the law were suspended by the country's High Court, but an atmosphere of fear remains, says the BBC's Juliet Njeri in Nairobi.

"People are censoring themselves online because they are worried they'll get in trouble," she says.

Some Kenyans are using the tag #DarkDays to express concern about the new laws on Twitter.

Keriako Tobiko, Kenya's public prosecutor, says he can't comment on the Mutai case because an investigation is ongoing. But he denied that the government is using the new security law to curtail freedom of speech.

"Those making such claims are being alarmists merely crying wolf for attention," Tobiko told BBC Trending in a text message. "Check out the kind of wild stuff that is said about the government and President [Uhuru] Kenyatta online and you'll confirm there is no truth in the claims."

And what about the future for one of the country's most well-known bloggers?

"I will continue investigating corruption in Kenya," Mutai says. "Whether I will continue publishing it is another question."

Blog by Anne-Marie Tomchak

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


#FreeSpeechStories: The limits of Spanish humour

What subjects are off limits for humour?

Last week, at the same time as millions rallied online in support of pointed French satire using #JeSuisCharlie, in Spain #YoconFacu (I am with Facu) was trending last week in support of the satirist Facu Diaz. He's been accused of mocking victims of terrorism in an online video sketch which uses the iconography of the armed Basque organisation ETA.

His detractors say that he has overstepped the limits of freedom of expression - while he claims that he is actually being targeted for his close ties with the growing left-wing opposition movement, Podemos. So which one is it? BBC Trending's Anne-Marie Tomchak went to Madrid to investigate.

Reporting: Anne-Marie Tomchak

Video journalists: Alvaro A. Ricciardelli and Gabriela Torres

Watch more videos on our YouTube channel or follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending.

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


Conspiracy theories swirl after Argentine prosecutor's death

A Twitter heatmap of where "#muertedenisman" is trending A Twitter heatmap of where "#muertedenisman" is trending

Consider the plot of this amazing story: the bombing of a Jewish centre, 85 deaths, 20 years of investigations and the prosecutor in charge of the case found dead in his apartment hours before he's due to explain allegations which incriminate the president. The result? More than 600,000 tweets in three days.

The story is unfolding in Argentina, following the death last Sunday of prosecutor Alberto Nisman, which sparked outrage on social media and fuelled conspiracy theories.

Mr Nisman's body was discovered just before he was due to give evidence to a congressional committee outlining his accusations against Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. He also accused Foreign Minister Hector Timerman of involvement in a plot to cover up Iran's alleged role in a 1994 attack on a Jewish community centre. Nobody has ever been convicted in connection with that bombing (see box below).

"He spends 11 years investigating a case and commits suicide the day he was due to give evidence. Everything normal, nothing suspicious," tweeted Enzo Ibanez. His sarcastic message has been one of the most retweeted comments, and many others discussed the case and gave their own versions of what may have happened.

"#Nisman has weapons, however, the 22 calibre gun he uses is not his; he is alone at his apartment, and decided to commit suicide in his bathroom?" tweeted Jose Figueroa Alcorta. "Nisman wasn't depressed to the point of killing himself; on the contrary, he was determined to speak about everything he's got," wrote another user.

Tweet by AlexisMan: "To commit suicide with a .22 (caliber gun) is nuts! One dead, 40 million injured" "To commit suicide with a .22 (caliber gun) is nuts! One dead, 40 million injured"

Sociology professor Hernan Charosky of Palermo University was not surprised about the conspiracy-minded reactions on social media. "This is a problem that dates back decades and its latest chapter is Mr Nisman's mysterious death," he told BBC Trending. "We are talking about secret services, conspiracy, the CIA, Mossad, Syria, Iran and Hezbollah. We have excellent material for a mysterious death."

The 1994 AMIA bombing

The bombing of the Jewish community centre AMIA -the worst terrorist attack in the history of Argentina, which left 85 dead - still remains unsolved, twenty years on.

Although the Argentine justice department has accused Iran of being behind the bombing, so far no one has been detained or tried for plotting the attack.

A group of Argentine citizens and policemen accused of assisting in the bombing were acquitted by a court after it was discovered that the judge in charge of the investigation had paid one of the defendants to falsely accuse others.

That judge will be tried this year. In the meantime, the fact that no one has ever been convicted over to the bombing means many Argentines are still demanding answers about the case.

In the midst of the conspiracy theories, Argentine president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner used Facebook to publish a statement which only fuelled the speculation: "On the prosecutor Alberto Nisman's case of suicide (?), there isn't only stupor and unanswered questions, but also a long history, too heavy, too strong, and overall too sordid; the tragedy of the biggest terrorist attack to ever happen in Argentina."

President Fernandez also questioned the fact that the gun supposedly used by Mr Nisman was given to him the day before by a colleague for self-defence purposes "when the prosecutor had 10 police officers looking after him."

"The main objective of this letter is to mislead," says Marcos Novaro, director of politics research centre CIPOL. "What she wants is to make everyone suspicious."

Mr Novaro added that this is a "reasonable strategy" as the president has come under heavy criticism.

"If you know that people won't believe you, then you involve everyone [in speculation] in order to have a better chance of getting out of the situation in one piece," he said.

And indeed, some of President Fernandez's supporters rallied to her side.

"I'm with you, president," wrote Horacio Mario Pantano, one of hundreds who expressed support on Ms Fernandez's Facebook page. "They always blame our president; I believe it was the opposition. Cristina, I'm with you," commented Raquel Torres.

The president's office declined to comment. However on Thursday, Cristina Fernandez used her social media presence to continue to question Mr Nisman's cause of death. "Our doubts are now certainties. The suicide - I'm convinced - it wasn't a suicide," she wrote.

Blog by Gabriela Torres

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


A year-long joke: the 'never-ending' Twitter chain

The universe is ever-expanding. The never-ending tweet chain? Not so much. The universe is ever-expanding. The never-ending tweet chain? Not so much.

It's a trend that's been a year in the making - but who started it and why?

We first picked up on what we'll call the Great Twitter Chain when the BBC Trending team spotted a tweet from our colleague George Mann at Radio 4's Today programme.

It simply said "Terrible" and included a link. We can't resist good clickbait, so of course we clicked on it.

It took us to a similar Twitter status: "This country," it said, and it included another link.

So we clicked again.

And again. And again, and again ... (click here to see our Vine and you'll get what we're talking about). No really.

It all seemed to be an elaborate joke. Several tweeters we contacted professed to be clueless as to what it was all about - they simply found the idea of a chain funny. Others appeared to mock the kinds of headlines used by viral news sites:

Breathtaking. What happened next will make you cry.  LINK

Finally, 67 clicks and one repetitive strain injury later, we reached a roadblock, after a tweet dated February of last year:

Sorry that page doesn't exist

The now-deleted status belonged to Charles C W Cooke, an American journalist who writes for the conservative National Review among other publications.

BBC Trending asked Mr Cooke - with more than a hint of pleading - whether he started the chain, and what magic was contained within his original tweet. But he didn't bite.

"It will go with me to the grave," he said. "I've had schoolgirls in Brazil upset with me because they'd followed the links."

So while the links may continue, we need no longer ask where the Great Twitter Chain came from. Unfortunately though we can only speculate as to the contents of that first tweet.

Our favourite guess: "You won't believe how long this will go on for."

What's yours?

Blog (and frantic clicking) by Mike Wendling

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


#FreeSpeechStories: Your reactions to blogger punishment

Raif Badawi

Of course it's terrible, but it's the law of the land isn't it?

That's what you've been telling BBC Trending in reaction to the news Saudi blogger Raif Badawi will be lashed 50 times a week for crimes including insulting Islam.

Thousands have been imprisoned in the Saudi kingdom for activism, what makes this guy so special, is another typical view on the subject.

On another note though, some people in the West think publicity about the flogging will shame Saudi citizens into calling for reform.

As YouTuber Gabslyv put it: "Give them enough rope, they'll hang themselves in the eyes of their own people. It's how change comes about ... bad press! It eventually takes effect. Reform of Islam is the key word."

There's no sign international outcry has pierced the consciousness of Saudi residents yet though.

Eighteen science Nobel laureate winners in the West have written an open letter to academics at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia.

They're urging them to support the campaign to cease public flogging, in the name of the very freedom of dissent which is vital for scientific enquiry.

@KAUST_News has yet to respond.

Raif Badawi's flogging was postponed last Friday on medical grounds but it is believed to be going ahead this week.

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


#FreeSpeechStories: The explosion of #JeSuis____ campaigns

A man holding a Je Suis Charlie sign

The French words for "I am" - "Je Suis" - have become a rallying cry for online campaigns around the world.

It is one of the most popular hashtags attached to a news event ever - #JeSuisCharlie has been used millions of times since the attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris earlier this month. BBC Trending spoke to the creator of the slogan, who explained his underlying message: "I am free, I am not afraid."

Activists have since adapted the phrase, using #JeSuis as an opener for dozens of hashtags across several platforms - some of them earnest social and political campaigns, others less serious efforts.

Here are some of the #JeSuis hashtags that caught our eye in over the last two weeks:

#JeSuisRaif

This hashtag is being used by supporters of Saudi blogger and activist Raif Badawi who has been sentenced to flogging by authorities in Jeddah for "insulting Islam." BBC Trending has been following reactions to the case.

A rally calling to free Saudi blogger Raif Badawi More than 450,000 have signed an Amnesty International petition calling for the release of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi

#JeSuisVolnovakha

In Ukraine, social media users including President Petro Poroshenko are using #JeSuisVolnovakha to draw attention to the conflict with pro-Russian separatists. The hashtag is named after the eastern city of Volnovakha where at least 12 people were killed in a bus shelling last Tuesday.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (right), his wife Marina (left) and Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk (centre) hold candles and placards reading 'Je suis Volnovakha' (''I am Volnovakha'') during a rally on Independence Square in Kiev on January 18 in memory of the people who died in a bus shelling on January 13. A mass rally called for solidarity with the people who died in an attack in eastern Ukraine on 13 Jan

#JeSuisNigeria

As the world showed solidarity after the Charlie Hebdo attacks, some questioned the relative lack of response to Boko Haram attacks in Nigeria, where hundreds have been killed this month.

#JeSuisNico

Memes mocked former French President Nicolas Sarkozy for finding his way to the front of the Paris unity march attended by world leaders - there is even a Tumblr account curating the memes which shows Sarkozy at the Moon landing in 1969 and at the funeral of John F Kennedy and a Martin Luther King Jr rally. "Nico" is the former president's nickname.

A meme of Nicolas Sarkozy in a Star Wars film Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy has been photoshopped into a scene from Star Wars

#JeSuisHypocrite

Social media users have used this hashtag to call out perceived double standards by governments and the media in ensuring freedom of speech. #JeSuisDieudonne, for instance, emerged after the arrest of French comedian Dieudonne M'bala M'bala over a Facebook comment appearing to back Paris gunman Amedy Coulibaly. Some have even rallied to support television anchor Jim Clancy with the hashtag #JeSuisJimClancy after he left CNN following a series of controversial tweets about the Paris attacks.

What are the other #JeSuis hashtags we should add to this list? Tweet us at @BBCTrending

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


#FreeSpeechStories: Kenyans protest with bad hotel reviews

Kenyans have hit upon a novel way to vent their anger about the tear-gassing of children trying to protect their playground from development.

There have been allegations on social media that the land is wanted for a nearby hotel - so following a riot police crackdown, protesters posted negative reviews of the business on sites such as TripAdvisor and Google.

BBC Trending has collected a few of the most scathing "reviews."

Produced by Ravin Sampat

Picture credits: Getty Images, AFP, CitizenTV

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


Miss Universe spat: the beauty queen selfie that turned ugly

Instagram photo of Miss Israel and Miss Lebanon Miss Israel's Instagram photo got Miss Lebanon into hot water

Lebanon's relations with Israel aren't pretty, so when a smiley selfie showing a beauty queen from Lebanon next to her counterpart from Israel made the rounds online, things got ugly fast.

Doron Matalon, the 21-year-old Miss Israel, posted a selfie on her Instagram account showing her with Lebanese contestant Saly Greige (with Miss Slovenia and Miss Japan in the background) at the Miss Universe pageant in Miami. The image spelled immediate trouble for the Lebanese contender.

"You do not represent Lebanon," commented several angry Lebanese using an Arabic hashtag that translates as "A word to Miss Lebanon." The hashtag has been used around 7,000 times and has been a top trend on Twitter in Lebanon since the photo was posted.

"If you sell your honour it's easy to sell your country," tweeted one Lebanese commenter.

Critical comments were showered on Greige, who defended herself in a Facebook post explained that she was having a photo with Miss Japan and Miss Slovenia when "Miss Israel jumped in and took a selfie."

Miss Lebanon's fans came to her defence and filled her timeline with support messages. "It's a beauty pageant contest and not a war of nations, just relax and be sure that we all support and love you," one Lebanese woman commented.

But her post didn't go down so well with everyone.

"Are you not supposed to be promoting world peace? Can we not leave politics out of this? I find it sad that you think like this and had to write this statement," wrote an Israeli man under Greige's Facebook post.

Miss Israel also took to Facebook to respond: "It doesn't surprise me, but it still makes me sad. Too bad you cannot put the hostility out of the game, only for three weeks of an experience of a lifetime that we can meet girls from around the world and also from the neighbouring country," Matalon wrote in English and Hebrew.

The reaction to Miss Lebanon's controversial photo "was to be expected" says prominent Lebanese journalist and women rights activist Jumana Haddad. "We are often at war with Israel, it's not appropriate to pose laughing with those who we consider the enemy," she told BBC Trending.

But some Lebanese wondered why Miss Lebanon was getting more heat than the Lebanese Foreign Minister for appearing in a photo with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the recent mass march in Paris.

In this photo of the Paris march on 11 Jan, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is at the extreme left edge of the picture while Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil is at the extreme right edge In this photo of the Paris march on 11 Jan, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is at the extreme left edge of the picture while Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil is at the extreme right edge

"You guys are mad at miss Lebanon? What about Gebran Bassil walking next to Netanyahu against terrorism?" tweeted a Lebanese woman.

Israel and Lebanon have fought a series of bitter wars, the most recent in 2006. This isn't the first time that a Miss Lebanon has found herself in trouble for apparently socialising with "the enemy."

In 1993, the Lebanese authorities disqualified their contestant after she appeared in a photograph with the Israeli contender at the Miss Universe pageant.

The Miss Universe argument is just the latest in a number of recent stories where Lebanese women find themselves in trouble for actions that are said to "poorly" represent their country.

Last year Olympic skier Jackie Chamoun came under fire for a series of risque pictures. And more recently Lebanese social media kicked up a fuss over Lebanese-born porn star Mia Khalifa, who received death threats and hate messages online, after she was named top adult actress on the adult website Pornhub - a story covered by our colleagues at Newsbeat.

Joumana Haddad believes that the huge negative reactions to Khalifa and Chamoun are hypocritical and blown out of proportion because they involve sexuality, but the "Miss Lebanon's situation is different," says Haddad, "This is primarily a political issue."

Blog by Mai Noman

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


#FreeSpeechStories: Is the real Martin Luther King forgotten?

Protests in Oakland Protesters in Oakland gathered outside the mayor's home

Attention Americans, now enjoying a day off thanks to the federal holiday for Martin Luther King, Jr Day. If you're reading this on your phone while waiting in queue for brunch, you're doing it wrong.

So say the activists behind the #ReclaimMLK day hashtag.

Many have organised three days of protests, culminating today, calling attention to racial disparities in the US and hoping to inspire action like that taken by King during his days as a civil rights campaigner.

"Somewhere between his assassination and today began an MLK-neutering campaign meant to turn the famed agitator's holiday into a national Day of Service, a generic mishmash of good feelings that contorts King's social-justice legacy into a blissful Hallmark card of post-racial nothingness," writes Danielle C Belton on the Root.

Those using the #ReclaimMLK day tag are instead interested in direct and specific action to end racism in the US, and call attention to systematic problems they say are still plaguing minorities in America.

That's why some protesters in St Louis disrupted a cafe over the weekend chanting "No Justice, No Brunch."

Similarly, one of those protesters active in the demonstrations in Ferguson, Missouri, Bassem Masri, tweeted, "#MLK was arrested 30 times during the civil rights movement, true patriot who was unafraid of the system he battled it head on #ReclaimMLK."

In Oakland, California, people gathered outside the home of Mayor Libby Schaff because, they say, she has been too supportive of the police. They projected quotes from America's most eminent civil rights leader on to her garage door.

While some are using the hashtag to get people on to the streets, others are using it simply to share facts about Dr King's life and shed his "sanitised" image.

"Let's not try to pacify his radicalness and for now on speak truth about his legacy. Uncompromising. Radical. Strategic." wrote Dante Barry.

"#ReclaimMLK Rev Dr Martin Luther King was a revolutionary. He rejected the (racist) status quo & made white people feel uncomfortable," wrote DNLee, a biologist in Ithaca, New York.

Community leaders gathered at the MLK memorial in Washington Community leaders gathered at the MLK memorial in Washington
Oprah Winfrey and the cast of the film Selma, which is about King, marched in Alabama Oprah Winfrey and the cast of the film Selma, which is about King, marched in Alabama

Jenifer Daniels, a marketing expert from Charlotte, North Carolina, has been tweeting excerpts of Dr King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail", concerned that his legacy has become too focused on his "I Have a Dream" speech.

She told the BBC that King's image is also too often used for commercial purposes.

"Martin Luther King is today is seen as - unfortunately - an opportunity for co-opting. A lot of brands, for some odd reason, were tweeting voraciously during 2014 using the hashtag as an opportunity to sell their wears, to talk about sales they were having at their stores."

But there are plenty who believe the day set aside to honour the Atlanta pastor, and the litany of community events taking place across the US, is a fitting way to mark his work.

A White House statement said: "The Dr Martin Luther King Jr Day of Service is an opportunity for all Americans to honour Dr King by coming together to help meet the needs of their communities."

Reporting by Kate Dailey and Paul Blake

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


#FreeSpeechStories: Should you lose your job for racism online?

Racists getting fired tumblr

We've been asking you whether a person should lose their job for posting racial slurs online.

Earlier we told the story of the Tumblr blog Racists Getting Fired, and spoke to a man who got the sack after using a highly offensive racial slur on Facebook.

There have been a number of cases when individuals have lost their jobs over posting controversial comments online. We've been looking at some your responses to our blog, and the comments have been really diverse.

Anne Catherine tweeted "NO. Unless you are on a company account/computer, what you say off hours should not be reason enough to fire you." Mirka from Australia felt that individuals should be allowed to correct their statements. "A reaction of dismissal for a few statements, without providing a person with an opportunity to correct actions? The employer could highlight how some statements may be undesirable. Give people a chance, it is their livelihood."

Mirka isn't the only one who thinks that perhaps re-education is the answer. "Give them a choice: re-educate them or get the sack," said one response.

racist comment response

But how far should employers go in making posting offensive content a "sackable offence"? Sean Saunders responded "You can't say what you like online without being held responsible by your employer who you represent."

Most of the chatter directed our way was about racism and offensive comments, but what about the vigilantes hunting down those comments?

"Racism is wrong, and so is thought-policing," said commenter Moominmama in a comment on our blog.

"Why does Logan Smith (who runs the @YesYoureRacist Twitter account) think he can be judge, jury and executioner? why should he decide what is racist and what is not. Most people dont know what the word means," said another commenter.

And it doesn't matter if you were just intending a comment to be made for a small group of people - social media is public, a point reiterated by Patrycja Szpyra. "The Internet is now a key part of society. The internet is public and if you can't behave, you'll get in trouble."

Reporting by Ravin Sampat

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


Trends of the week - in 60 seconds

Why did a religious cleric condemn the building of snowmen in Saudi Arabia? And what happens when two men walk down the road holding hands?

These, and more social media trends of the week, in our 60-second round-up.

Produced by Samiha Nettikkara and India Rakusen

Video and picture credits: AFP, Getty Images, Instagram/Tumair200, Twitter/1mogtrb, BBC Three Counties

You can hear more from the BBC Trending team on BBC World Service every Saturday at 10:30 GMT, and you can subscribe to the free podcast here. Want to watch more Trending videos? Subscribe to our YouTube channel here.


Getting racists sacked: #FreeSpeechStories

racists getting fired

Have you ever posted something you might regret, or found out with a sting just how public social media is?

Chris Rincon worked at a car wash in Houston, Texas, and he thought nothing of posting a link to a fake news article about President Obama's daughter being pregnant to Facebook. But while exchanging comments with his friends he used a highly offensive slur against black people - and it eventually cost him his job.

Rincon's post was shared to a Tumblr called "Racists Getting Fired (and Getting Racists Fired!)".

BBC Trending radio

Hear the full story of Racists Getting Fired on this week's BBC Trending radio programme.

You can put us in your pocket and listen anytime by downloading our free podcast.

And we're on BBC World Service radio at 10:30 GMT on Saturdays.

Fans of the blog are encouraged to find and share incidents of racism online, expose those who've posted them, and then call and email the person's employer until they are sacked. According to the blog, over a dozen people have been fired or, in their words, "Gotten".

Rincon had been up most of the night playing video games when BBC Trending spoke to him. It's been a couple of weeks since he lost his job and he's still not back in work.

"I'm not going to sit here and deny that I didn't use the word," he said. "Because it's clear as day that I did use it."

"The fact that I was targeted specifically and individually really bothers me because I'm not the only person who has views in this aspect. It made me lose my job. I have a three-year-old kid that I'm trying to support … They're basing (their views of) a person off of one post instead of actually knowing the person," he said.

racists getting fired

Rincon owned up to making the comment but one woman exposed on the blog has claimed she was wrongly targeted - her lawyers told BBC Trending that she was set up by someone she knew, and that death threats had been made against her.

The person or people behind Racists Getting Fired did not respond to our requests for comment. However the blog does set out some rules. It states that the bloggers only use already publicly available information about the person, and only target people over 18. They also urge blog readers not to harass the individuals or their family members, and to only contact the employers of the alleged racists.

But when does this idea of online justice cross the line to harassment?

"The issue comes down to motivation," said Whitney Phillips, an expert in online behaviour at Humboldt State University in California. "What is the difference between a vigilante and a troll? The answer is what they think about what they're doing."

"The issue of anonymity really complicates our ability to wrap our heads around what we're seeing."

One vigilante who's not remaining anonymous is Logan Smith. He's 27, lives in North Carolina and runs the twitter handle @YesYoureRacist. The idea is pretty simple - Logan starts his day by searching on Twitter for the phrase "I'm not racist but..." and then retweets the comments that he deems offensive to his 55,000 followers.

He started the account to show that racism is alive online, but says it's become popular because of the often amusing juxtaposition of the phrase and a racist comment.

But is there something underhand about taking comments that were perhaps only meant for a handful of people to see, and repeating them to tens of thousands, even millions of people, across the world?

"I'm just a guy with a keyboard," Smith said, "but I think I've made some good calls and I'll just let it be up to other people on Twitter to decide. People need to understand that what they post on social media in a public forum, really is public."

Blog by India Rakusen

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


#FreeSpeechStories: France accused of 'double standards'

Dieudonne's official Facebook page has nearly 1m 'likes' Dieudonne's official Facebook page has nearly 1m 'likes'

Tens of thousands of fans of the French comic Dieudonne - often criticised as anti-Semitic - are making claims of hypocrisy and double standards after French authorities opened up dozens of cases against people accused of justifying terrorism.

Fans of the controversial comedian reacted angrily after he was arrested and charged with condoning terrorism for a remark on his a Facebook page: "je me sens Charlie Coulibaly" ("I feel like Charlie Coulibaly").

The remark, which has since been taken down, was a mash-up of the #JeSuisCharlie tag and the name of Amedy Coulibaly, the man who killed a policewoman near a Jewish school and four people at a Jewish supermarket in Paris. Dieudonne later defended the remark by saying he felt like he was being persecuted by authorities as if he were a terror suspect.

"Freedom of expression is dead, but its funeral on Sunday was pretty!!" said one of the comedian's Facebook fans, referring to the enormous march through Paris in support of Charlie Hebdo.

"WHAT HYPOCRISY!!!!!" shouted another commentator. "You can legally caricature and insult the prophet and the Muslim world: the oligarchy calls this freedom of expression ... We are in a pseudo-democratic dictatorship."

Start Quote

The worry is that judgments are coming too quickly, and influenced by a very emotional event”

End Quote Emmanuel Pierrat French legal expert and PEN member

Dieudonne is a comedian with a history of making crude jokes about the Holocaust (and occasionally getting into legal trouble). He has a huge following on social media including more than 900,000 Facebook fans. Most of the comments on his page were in support of the comedian, and his name was trending briefly on Twitter earlier in the week, but there were a few fans who thought Dieudonne had crossed a line.

"There is a big difference between freedom of expression and incitement to hatred," said one fan. "He knew what to expect ... Charlie Hebdo made caricatures of the prophet that I haven't agreed with, it has made a mockery of the prophet, made some laugh, shocked others, but there was no incentive to hatred and this is a big difference."

The comedian adapted the "Je Suis Charlie" trend to rally supporters after his arrest. The comedian adapted the "Je Suis Charlie" trend to rally supporters after his arrest.

The arrest of Dieudonne was just one of dozens of cases - up to 100 according to one estimate - opened by the French authorities since the attacks. Some people have even been jailed already under fast-track legislation that was passed last year.

In a typical year, only one or two people are arrested for speaking out in favour of terrorism, said Emmanuel Pierrat, a French media lawyer and member of PEN International, which supports free expression.

Pierrat told BBC Trending that free speech is an idea at the core of the French nation, but one that in his view has been eroded over the years by exceptions for things including hate speech.

"We have weakened the principle of freedom of speech, for good intentions, but without thinking about the consequences. We need to think about how we can recover the idea of freedom of speech after an event that is so emotional, like the one in Paris (last week)," he said.

He cautioned however, that Dieudonne's statements could not be directly compared with the Charlie Hebdo cartoons showing the Prophet Muhammad.

"One thing is for sure, in France you can make drawings or speeches against ideology or against religion. The French revolution of 1789 abolished the crime of blasphemy" and courts have consistently upheld the legality of speech directed at religions or historical religious figures, he says.

Pierrat, who represented Michel Houellebecq when the author was cleared of charges of religious hate speech against Muslims in 2002, says the Dieudonne case will be difficult to judge given the ambiguity of the comedian's outburst. But he says he believes the authorities are made a mistake by arresting him. A trial is scheduled for next month.

"If Dieudonne wins, he will be like a hero," Pierrat says. "It will gives a lot of young people the idea that he is a champion of Muslims or immigrants ... he's no longer a comedian or an actor, but instead his audiences are far-right sympathisers."

"What makes me somewhat afraid is that French justice is speeding up when it comes to these questions," he says. "Like Americans after 11 September, the worry is that judgments are coming too quickly, and influenced by a very emotional event."

Blog by Mike Wendling

Translation by Estelle Doyle

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


#MyLastWordsIn5Words: What would you say?

Tweet by @ZenaMarieHennen

"Please delete my browsing history."

Are these really the last five words you would choose to say before you died?

#MyLastWordsin5Words has been trending worldwide.

It seems similar to another trend from earlier in the week, #HowToRuinADateInFiveWords.

Tweet @Battlefield
Tweet
Tweet by @hellogiggles

The hashtag may originally have been influenced by the works of American comedian George Carlin whose book Last Words, was published posthumously in 2009.

The current trend though was apparently started as a game by a comedy showcase in Detroit, The Hashtag Comedy Show.

George Carlin's daughter Kelly reminds us in a blog post that final conversations can be quite banal. In a Huffington Post blog, she recalled the last words she said to her mother while her mother was still lucid.

"'Drink your orange juice or I'm calling the paramedics.' Not what I would have chosen as my last words to her. But that's the thing with being in the middle of a crisis - there is no grand moment or time to reflect. It's just do."

So what would your last words be?

Tweet by @JordanBach

Blog by Sitala Peek

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


Beaten for blogging: #Free Speech Stories

Speaking before the postponement Raif Badawi's wife Ensaf Haidar spoke to the BBC

Update 16 January: the latest round of lashings has been postponed.

In the first of BBC Trending's #FreeSpeechStories, we meet the wife of a liberal blogger being punished in Saudi Arabia for "insulting Islam".

Last week he was whipped 50 times, and this week he was supposed to be beaten again. Raif Badawi has been sentenced to a total of 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison for offences ranging from cybercrime to disobeying his father and insulting Islam on his "Saudi Liberal Network" website.

On Friday, Amnesty International said the latest round of lashings would be postponed for medical reasons.

Badawi's name was trending again on Twitter this week. His wife Ensaf Haidar told the BBC her family was living in "perpetual anxiety".

Video by Neil Meads and Mai Noman

Watch more videos on our YouTube channel or follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending.

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


Why we're telling #FreeSpeechStories

People hold up "Je Suis Charlie" placard in Arabic A show of solidarity in Amsterdam

Am I free to offend you?

Should I deliberately share images that I know will offend others, as a statement of everyone's freedom to do so?

What about extremists? Should their speech be banned?

Questions like this have been dominating social media conversation in the days since the satirists of Charlie Hebdo were attacked and killed. We at BBC Trending tracked down the creator of the slogan #JeSuisCharlie, who told us the slogan is a way of declaring: "I am free, I am not afraid." More than 7m people have now used the hashtag on Twitter; a million more have used it on Instagram. There have been more than 60,000 YouTube videos using the slogan, not to mention countless Facebook discussions between friends and more than a few songs.

That's a lot of people rallying behind free speech.

But it wasn't long before much of the debate online became angry and polarised, and people began asking searching questions about freedom of expression in their own countries. There's been a spate of "Je Suis" hashtags for all sorts of other free speech causes around the world, along with accusations of double standards and strong reactions from Muslims about the new edition of Charlie Hebdo.

Over the coming weeks, we will be monitoring conversations about the limits of free speech - and telling these #FreeSpeechStories in videos, on our blog and on our radio programme. We want to hear from you about your own #FreeSpeechStories and which debates we should cover. Tweet us - no matter what your view.


The most popular #JeSuisCharlie songs

Along with the outpouring of posts, pictures and tweets after the attacks on Charlie Hebdo, some paid tribute to the victims with music.

A number of videos have appeared online on the theme of #JeSuisCharlie. BBC Trending has been looking at some of the most popular ones.

Produced by Ravin Sampat

Watch more videos on our YouTube channel or follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending.

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


How teenage hugs angered Islamic authorities in Malaysia

A video of a Korean pop band embracing teenage girls in Malaysia has attracted heavy criticism and triggered a debate over the behaviour of young Muslim women in the country.

Several girls, giggling and sometimes hesitant, can be seen acting out scenes from Korean dramas with different members of the band, all of which end in friendly hugs. A band member also kisses one girl on the top of her head.

Islamic authorities for Kuala Lumpur, where the meeting took place, have said they will investigate the incident for possible violations of Sharia law, and have called on the girls involved to come forward to assist in the inquiry.

Video journalists: Neil Meads and Tse Yin Lee

Watch more videos on our YouTube channel or follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending.

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


Muslims react to new Charlie Hebdo cover

A picture of a man in Turkey reading a copy of Cumhuriyet newspaper A hashtag campaign in Turkey is protesting against the publication of Charlie Hebdo cartoons in a Turkish newspaper

Muslims on Twitter are mostly using two hashtags to protest a drawing of the Prophet Muhammad on the cover of Charlie Hebdo.

After an initial low reaction when the cover image was revealed, several conversations have caught fire on social media as the magazine went on sale Wednesday. #WhoIsMuhammad? has been shared more than 167,000 times and the numbers are still rising. It was started by a Twitter user called @SpanishKash1.

"I was on the verge of tears," he says, after he saw the image of Muhammad on the front of Charlie Hebdo's latest edition. He's urging supporters to change their avatar to the Prophet's name in Arabic. While pictures of Muhammad are taboo in Islam, artistic representations of the letters making up his name are acceptable.

@SpanishKash tweets about #WhoIsMuhammad campaign

The plan was announced at 17:55 on Tuesday with a rallying tweet he sent to his network after the cover design was revealed.

He tweeted: "So if you don't know the filth at Charlie Hebdo are planning on releasing fresh cartoons of our beloved Prophet. This is unacceptable.

"Let's capitalise on this opportunity with all the media focusing on the Prophet Muhammad and seize the opportunity to educate non Muslims.

So I'm proposing we the Muslims on Twitter do a trending topic on the Prophet pbuh (peace be upon him) and tweet about him."

The hashtag has generated a lot of messages about Islam and about the life of Muhammad which are being shared. A man in Malaysia picked up on it and tweeted: "#WhoIsMohammed is now trending in UK. Please read some of the most beautiful tweets about the Prophet."

Also trending worldwide is a hashtag from Turkey - #ÜlkemdeCharlieHebdoDağıtılamaz, which translates as "Charlie Hebdo cannot be distributed in my country." This tag is a reaction to the publication of Charlie Hebdo cartoons in two columns of an Istanbul newspaper, Cumhuriyet.

Tweet using #ÜlkemdeCharlieHebdoDağıtılamaz

Behind the hashtag is a group of university students in Sakarya, more than 80 miles from Istanbul. But they are quick to clarify that the attacks in Paris and the publication of cartoons are separate issues to them.

"We are against the cartoon - not the cartoonist. We are not against Charlie Hebdo or Cumhuriyet. We are against the cartoons they published," Ozcan Ayma, the 28-year-old president of a local student union, told BBC Trending.

"We are not going to allow this insult to be repeated. Do not stay silent," said one tweet, while popular Twitter users like pro-government journalist Fatih Tezcan urged his followers to make the hashtag a worldwide trend.

The call for action seems to have worked - more than 70,000 have used the hashtag #ÜlkemdeCharlieHebdoDağıtılamaz in the last 24 hours, and it was trending worldwide for a while, although not everyone in Turkey supports the message.

A small section of Turkey's twittersphere has been using the hashtag #JeSuisCumhuriyet since Tuesday to express support for the paper. "Where on earth can you find an advanced country in which freedom will be restricted just because some people will be provoked," tweeted a widely-followed account. And now, it's been reported that a court in southeastern Turkey has ordered a ban on access to web pages showing Charlie Hebdo's front cover.

Blog by Samiha Nettikkara and Sitala Peek

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


Who 'killed' Indian author Perumal Murugan?

Book cover of Perumal Murugan's Madhorubagan Tamil author Perumal Murugan was advised by local police to leave town after abusive and threatening phone calls

A novelist from south India announced the demise of his writing career in a Facebook post. The decision, prompted by protests against one of his works, understandably led to concerns about freedom of expression - but it's also a story about caste politics.

"Author Perumal Murugan has died," the Tamil writer and professor posted on Monday. "He is no god, so he is not going to resurrect himself. Nor does he believe in reincarnation. From now on, Perumal Murugan will survive merely as the teacher he has been."

This public letter followed recent outcry from caste-based and Hindu groups about a book Murugan wrote in 2010. "Madhorubagan" is set about a century ago near the author's native town of Tiruchengode in southern India. In the book, a childless couple from the land-owning Gounder caste contemplate participating in a local temple festival ritual - during which a childless woman has sex with a man other than her husband in order to conceive a child.

Last month, unexpectedly, local groups led protests about the book - they said the "fictitious" extramarital sex ritual at the centre of the plot insulted the town, its temple and its women. Copies of the novel were burnt, residents shut down shops, and a petition sought the arrest of the author.

Murugan declined an interview request from BBC Trending, but in an interview with BBC Tamil last week, he said the festival practice was part of the temple's "oral history." But he maintained, "The novel is not against God or religion. A novel is a work of imagination. When writing a novel, one needs a place, people and context to relate it to."

Online, the translation of the author's post announcing his retirement has been shared widely and there is a great deal of outrage over freedom of expression and the silence of prominent political parties.

"It is disturbing that a pattern of violent acts over differences in opinion has emerged in recent times," said one commenter on Facebook. The user was in part referring to an incident last year where Penguin India recalled a book on Hinduism. "There will come a time in this country when the only way to protest will be by reading a book," read one tweet.

The translation of Tamil author Perumal Murugan's post An online petition is now calling for people to stand up for the author and freedom of expression

Another Facebook user questioned the author's decision. "Let those praise, praise. Let those who criticize, criticize. But don't you know you should have stood by what you have written?" he asked. But Murugan's publisher Kannan Sundaram told BBC Trending, "There is lots of solidarity online, but one cannot expect an author to be a warrior. It is the responsibility of a secular government to ensure his freedom of expression."

The publisher sees the development as a result of "provocative caste and religious fundamentalism" and pointed the finger at the Hindu nationalist BJP party led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Those who oppose Murugan's book are largely unhappy with his portrayal of Gounder community - particularly for implying in the novel that women from that caste were open to sex with other men. "No person in their right mind will accept it when women are degraded," said one Facebook user.

A regional party leader says Murugan's negative writing about his own caste and its women is a result of his marriage to a woman from another caste. "He intentionally hurt the feelings of the community. One should not write bad things about one's own community or write about things that did not actually take place," says GK Nagaraj of the KJK Party.

But Nagaraj is not happy with Perumal Murugan's decision to quit writing. "We need good writers," but he adds a caveat, "Let him continue writing but he should only write about events that actually happened."

Murugan's defenders included Aniruddhan Vasudevan, who translated the novel into English as "One-part Woman" in 2013. Vasudevan also attacked the quality of the debate.

"Those who are protesting the book speak on behalf of women," he says. "While this is not new in our country where patriarchy gets very agitated over women's freedoms and rights over their own bodies, it is nevertheless shocking that this is often the quality of the discourse."

Blog by Samiha Nettikkara

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


#JeSuisCharlie creator: Phrase cannot be a trademark

Translation: "I am Charlie"

Millions have declared "Je Suis Charlie" on social media - but now over 50 people have tried to trademark the image in France alone, and the creator of the campaign is angry.

He created the original "Je Suis Charlie" picture - but now he's worried that commercial interests might ruin the sentiment behind the phrase. Joachim Roncin lives with his family five minutes away from Charlie Hebdo's offices in Paris, and he works for the French edition of Stylist, a fashion magazine. When he and his colleagues first heard of last week's attacks, they fell into a stunned silence.

"We were in the production room working on our next issue, and at one point one of my colleagues saw reports of the shooting on Twitter," he told BBC Trending.

"We were all shocked. I saw messages like, 'I'm horrified' and 'I'm disgusted' repeated all around the world - all of these messages of despair," he said. "I searched for the Charlie Hebdo logo and I looked at deeply two or three minutes and I thought about what it meant to me.

"I was so hurt and so speechless ... the cartoonists working for Charlie Hebdo were pushing the limits all the time just to shake things up, and it's always good to have people who shake things, because this is what changes the world."

Roncin fashioned a simple graphic in the same font as the magazine's title. Although he had only around 400 followers on Twitter at the time, it quickly spread, and in the last week #JeSuisCharlie has been tweeted around 7m times - one of the most repeated news-related hastags ever (although rumours suggesting it's Twitter's most popular tag of all time are off the mark).

"I really didn't make it to make a buzz or anything," he says. "Tons and tons of ordinary people sent me messages of congratulations. But it's very strange to receive congratulations on something that's so horrible ... so at first I did not say 'thank you.'

"Eventually I understood they were thanking me because they were finding out what they themselves were thinking through this message. They were finding out what they were trying to express.

"This is what Je Suis Charlie actually means: I am free, I am not afraid."

Start Quote

"I want this message to stay pure. ... I would be disgusted if someone just tried to make money off it."”

End Quote Joachim Roncin

Roncin says he was soon getting a huge amount of media attention and was dismayed at some inaccurate reporting - for instance one outlet reported that he was afraid to show his face for fear of reprisals. (He declined a request to talk on camera to BBC Trending because he said he did not want to become a figurehead or leader of a movement or detract from the focus on the victims of the attacks.)

But more recently another issue has come up - the possible use of "Je Suis Charlie" for commercial purposes. Reports indicate that there have been more than 50 French trademark applications for the phrase - none connected with Roncin.

Roncin says he's only agreed to allow one organisation, the media freedom NGO Reporters Sans Frontières (Reporters Without Borders), to use his original artwork. And he's consulted lawyers in the hopes of stopping any commercial use of the slogan.

"It's horrible to think for one second that this slogan that is full of hope, someone will own it," he says.

"I want this message to stay pure. The four million people who were on the streets in Paris on Sunday - they shouted this message. They shouted it on the streets of London and New York and all around the world. I would be disgusted if someone just tried to make money off it."

Blog by Mike Wendling

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


Charlie Hebdo: Is all forgiven now?

A solidarity march following the Charlie Hebdo attacks

"Tout est pardonné" reads the latest Charlie Hebdo front page, but is all really forgiven?

If you didn't know before, you certainly do now that depicting the Prophet Muhammad is considered extremely offensive to many Muslims worldwide.

So you might have expected to see more reaction on social media to Charlie Hebdo's latest front cover design featuring a cartoon of the Prophet. But it all seems to have gone a bit quiet.

Even Muslims who've taken offence seem to be puzzled by the lack of online protests.

Mohsin Ali, from Karachi, Pakistan rhetorically asks "where is the Muslim Ummah? (community)."

Why might this be? Mathieu, who lives in the Paris suburbs, waded into a Twitter thread with a Muslim and non-Muslim. He says his Muslim friends in Paris are "fairly observant: no alcohol, no pork, celebrate Ramadan, etc. but don't wear hijab," and aren't particularly offended by the cartoon because they have accepted that non-Muslims act differently to them and "don't follow Muslim rules."

@slasherfun tweet

Similarly, feminist blogger @talatyaqoob said that as a Muslim living in Scotland she wasn't offended by the cover, though she was offended by the action of the terrorists.

Of course there are some people who are very upset by the depiction of the Prophet - @Egyptocracy tweets that even if Muhammad himself was to hold the sign, nothing would be forgiven because depiction of him is against Islam.

Egypt's Grand Mufti has also warned the cover will incite hatred, but the response on social has been fairly "muted", says New York-based freelance journalist Ahmed Shihab-Eldi.

He tweets: "The new cover of #CharlieHebdo would've been even more powerful had the cartoon depicted the Prophet carrying a sign that read #JeSuisAhmed," a tag that sprang up to honour the Muslim policeman killed by the attackers.

Mourners at the funeral of police officer Ahmed Merebet, the Muslim police officer killed during the Charlie Hebdo attacks Mourners at the funeral of police officer Ahmed Merebet, the Muslim police officer killed during the Charlie Hebdo attacks

"The terrorists want us to believe that a French-Muslim identity is an inherent contradiction. We must curtail this 'otherisation,'" he adds.

"The reaction in the Arab world to this cover is varied obviously, but I haven't seen a big response."

One hashtag has grown since the cover design was released; #AllButOurProphet (#)الا_رسول_الله

It has had about 1,200 tweets in the past 24 hours in Arabic and 1,700 tweets in a French version, Touche_Pas_A_Mon_Prophete - by contrast the #JeSuisCharlie hashtag has been repeated about 7m times.

A sample tweet from @Mohamaddyasser5 using the #AllButOurProphet hashtag reads: "I feel for a while now they have been trying to see to what extent we will hold on to our values and morals, and failing this test gives them cause to push the boundaries further."

The BBC - contrary to some reports - is using pictures of the latest Charlie Hebdo front cover, albeit in a limited way, mainly on TV programmes.

"The BBC is a news organisation committed both to free speech and respecting our audiences in the UK and around the world," the corporation press office said in a statement. "We have made the editorial judgment that the images are central to reporting the story and will continue to report the story in a careful and considered manner."

Blog by Mai Noman and Sitala Peek

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


#Centcom hack: Sleuths and wags react

The hacked Twitter page of US Central Command.

It wasn't exactly Pearl Harbor. In fact, it wasn't even on a par with the attack on Sony Pictures servers by hackers allegedly affiliated with North Korea, which spilled gigabytes of sensitive corporate information across the internet.

Still, as BBC technology reporter Dave Lee points out, the hijacking of US Central Command's Twitter and YouTube accounts by individuals purporting to be part of the "CyberCaliphate" was an embarrassment for the US government - particularly coming at the exact time US President Barack Obama was giving a speech about the importance of cybersecurity. Centcom, after all, oversees US military operations in the Middle East and Central Asia.

"This was always intended to be a PR coup rather than a technical one," Lee writes.

Given that the story centres around social media, Twitter was a rich source of quick-hitting commentary on the attack - with more than 80,000 #Centcom mentions since the story broke, many in the form of digital head-shaking and tut-tutting.

"Could someone please reassure me that Centcom doesn't control our nukes?" asks Breitbart's John Nolte.

A tweet by Piers Morgan.

Gawker's Adam Weinstein notes that the "information" tweeted from the hacked accounts were all in the public domain.

"America, tremble before Isis's unstoppable power to share boring-ass unclassified Powerpoint slides recovered in a daring Google search," he tweets.

Others found cause for concern, however.

"The story isn't that the people who took over CentCom's Twitter posted public addresses," writes conservative commentator Drew McCoy. "It's that those addresses were already public."

Piers Morgan was among those who found it rather unsettling that it took so long for Twitter to suspend the hijacked account.

A tweet by Peter Sagal.

"Account 'suspended'. Took 39 minutes," he tweets. "Hope U.S. Central Command is a bit quicker when it really matters, jeez."

But was the hack even the work of Islamic militants? As a number of Twitter sleuths point out, while "ISIS" was plastered all over the fraudulent tweets, it's an acronym that the real Islamic State abhors.

A Twitter account affiliated with the hacker group Anonymous said that it had traced the Centcom hacker to a computer located in the US state of Maryland.

"At this point, they're either really smart or we're dealing with a 17-year-old who can barely spell 'I love u ISIS'," the tweeter added.

Anonymous wasn't the first to speculate that the hack could be the work of mischievous teenagers.

"Suspected something wasn't Hoyle when 'ISIS' demanded a Miata, X-Men comic number 1 & a lifetime subscription to Playboy," tweets Julian Sanchez.

Meanwhile Weekly Standard writer John Noonan shares a bit of perspective: "In related news, Centcom dropped some 5,000 bombs on IS in the past week, destroying over 3,000 targets."

Evidence that the sword is still mightier than the tweet.

Blog by Anthony Zurcher

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


Birmingham reacts to 'Muslim-only' gaffe

#FoxNewsFacts: Birmingham reacts to 'Muslim-only city' gaffe

It is fair to say that American terrorism commentator Steven Emerson knows a lot more about the city of Birmingham now.

After describing Britain's second city as a "Muslim-only city" where non-Muslims "don't go", the denizens of the Twittersphere - and Birmingham itself - set him straight.

His comments came in for ridicule, with the hashtag #FoxNewsFacts trending on Twitter.

Mr Emerson, who founded a group called The Investigative Project on Terrorism, later issued an apology for his "terrible error".

Reporting by Rajini Vaidyanathan. Produced by the BBC's Franz Strasser.

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

Want to watch more Trending videos? Subscribe to our YouTube channel here.


Frosty response to Murdoch Muslim tweet

Rupert Murdoch

Are all Muslims responsible for the "growing jihadist cancer"? That's what a tweet by Rupert Murdoch seemed to argue - and so the debate began.

Online, a great deal of the response to the Australian-American News Corp chief executive was anger. His tweet last week suggested that even peaceful Muslims must "recognise and destroy their growing jihadist cancer" and that until they did they "must be held responsible". He had posted this in the wake of the deadly attack on Charlie Hebdo magazine in France.

Tweet by Rupert Murdoch
Tweet by Rupert Murdoch

Many were upset. Several on Twitter - including lots of Australians - apologised for Mr Murdoch and claimed responsibility for incidents perpetrated by people from their respective countries or faiths. "As a conservative white Australian, I sincerely apologise for Rupert Murdoch. #JeSuisEverybodyNewsCorpAttacks," one tweet read. "Rupert Murdoch thinks all Muslims should apologise for terrorism. So on behalf of white people I'd like to apologise for Rupert Murdoch," wrote novelist Matt Haig. "Most Ruperts are reasonable people, but until they stand up to and apologise for @rupertmurdoch they must all be held responsible," joked another user.

The anger was with the idea that all Muslims are "responsible" rather than a minority. There has been a growing conversation on social media about whether "moderate" Muslims on social media are under pressure to openly condemn jihadist attacks. BBC Trending in September reported on #MuslimApologies, the hashtag that came about in response to the anti-Islamic State campaign #NotinMyName. Among the prominent voices to join the backlash against Mr Murdoch is author JK Rowling, "I was born Christian. If that makes Rupert Murdoch my responsibility, I'll auto-excommunicate." Her tweet has been shared and marked as favourite more than 20,000 times. (Mr Murdoch's original tweet received one-fifth of the response at the time of filing this report).

Tweet by JK Rowling on Rupert Murdoch

Others however felt that the debate initiated by Mr Murdoch was a reasonable one. One Twitter user said that he did not often agree with the mogul, but that his post was "spot on this time". "It's up to right thinking Muslims to actively stamp out this disease," he added. "Current status: Self-defensive Islam apologists disagreeing with Rupert Murdoch. Intel reports around the world agreeing with him," another tweet read.

The lack of consensus is also reflected in an ongoing survey about the tweet conducted by polling company YouGov. The website said that currently 42% of those who participated in the poll agreed with Mr Murdoch's tweet, while 45% disagreed.

The latest hashtag taking on Rupert Murdoch is #RupertsFault, which was first used on Sunday by an American comedian born to Indian Muslim parents, Aziz Ansari. Ansari posted a series of angry posts accusing Mr Murdoch of "back pedalling" after the mogul tweeted praise for the Muslim police officer Ahmed Merabat who died during the Charlie Hebdo attack. "You are Catholic, why are you not hunting paedophiles? #RupertsFault," he tweeted. "Rups can we get a step by step guide? How can my 60 year old parents in NC help destroy terrorist groups? Plz advise," he said in response to Mr Murdoch's tweet.

More than 15,000 tweets have since been posted using the hashtag #RupertsFault, blaming Murdoch for everything from the ban on gay marriages to the Kardarshians.

Reporting by Samiha Nettikkara

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending. All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


#BBCtrending radio: Facing the Taliban in Pakistan

Women protest against the Taliban in Lahore, Pakistan Civil society protests in Pakistan

Listen to BBC Trending's latest programme or download the podcast.

BBC Trending reports here on this blog, but we're also on the BBC World Service. Every week we cover the latest in social media on our radio programme, exploring what's viral and why.

This week we're talking about showing 'face' as we take a look at two of the latest online video trends. In Pakistan, people are uploading videos to call out Taliban sympathisers and protest against religious extremism in the country. Meanwhile, in China, the traditional alcohol Baijiu has become the focus of a drinking challenge trend, but it's come under fire for being dangerous and disrespectful.

Presented by Mukul Devichand and produced by India Rakusen.

You can put us in your pocket and listen anytime by downloading our free podcast. We're on BBC World Service radio at 10:30 GMT on Saturdays.


#KillAllMuslims hashtag: Your reaction

Infographic tweet which says #KillAllMuslims hashtag had about 100,000 tweets Our tweet on the issue had nearly 800 retweets

Last week we wrote about one of the more shocking Twitter hashtags to take off after the Charlie Hebdo attacks - #KillAllMuslims (which has been tweeted about 100,000 times) - but the hashtag's popularity was not all it seems.

As we revealed, the trend was really propelled by tweets by Muslims and others against the violent message. Nearly all of the most retweeted messages using #killallmuslims were actually criticising the sentiment. Our blog on the hashtag had many responses from around the world, with many outraged the hashtag was trending at all - which is what we expected to happen.

People have no heart who really want to #KillAllMuslims

But what was interesting was how Muslims and others ended up having a debates online, using our blog post as a point of departure. It began with Muslims who said their faith was being misunderstood. "Here in Pakistan our army is fighting against terrorist, we don't even call them Muslims so don't blame Muslims" one tweet read "We Muslims believe in humanity first" wrote another tweeter, "We don't see people as a religion but humanity! #peaceplease". But others were skeptical. "Sounds nice but it's not what we can see here in Europa. We believe in love and understanding" was one tweet in response.

Paris Attack in tweets

  • #JeSuisCharlie - 5.2 million
  • #CharlieHebdo - 6.5 million
  • RespectForMuslims - 470,000
  • #KillAllMuslims - 126,000

One reader rightly pointed out that the hashtag #RespectAllMuslims, was the No 1 Trending hashtag in the world, ahead of #KillAllMuslims. The hashtag has had nearly 500,000 tweets since last Wednesday.

respectallmuslims

Reporting by Ravin Sampat

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


'Calling out the Taliban'

In the wake of a deadly attack on children, ordinary Pakistanis are joining an online movement.

Has the killing of over 130 schoolchildren in Peshawar been a turning point in Pakistan?

That's what a new trend on Facebook seems to suggest. In a country where it is dangerous to confront extremism, ordinary Pakistanis are showing their faces and posting videos calling for the arrest of a controversial Islamic cleric, who played no role in the attacks but who is known for his sympathy with the Taliban.

Reporting by Mukul Devichand

Video journalist: Alvaro A. Ricciardelli

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

Want to watch more Trending videos? Subscribe to our YouTube channel here.


Would you unfriend someone for their politics?

Unfriend Me graphic

Can you really click away a political movement?

Protests against an anti-immigration movement are spilling from Germany's streets to social media with bloggers calling for people to unfriend Facebook contacts if they "like" the Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West (Pegida) movement.

Start Quote

They think, 'hey, we're just normal people with family and friends' but that's not actually the case, and maybe they will see that if they start to lose connections.”

End Quote Politics teacher Marina Weisband

Blogger Marc Ehrich has promoted a tool that allows you to check whether someone has liked a Facebook page.

"In April I saw some guys sharing these individual links on their timeline so I thought I would write about it," he said.

"I wanted to provoke a little and start some interesting discussions. At first it was just a list with some music bands that I thought would be funny or amusing for people to find out about, and then I added the anti-euro party AfD and the neo-Nazi NPD party.

"Of course I wouldn't say to someone, 'hey unfriend this guy because he likes [the singer] Helene Fischer.' But when it comes to AfD and NPD I wanted people to really think about the likes of their friends."

In December he tweaked the tool to include a Pegida checker because he was annoyed with their supporters.

The blog post immediately went viral. Despite the prominent "unfriend me" title at the top of the page, he says the tool wasn't only meant to be used to drop contacts. But he's unremorseful if that's what people choose to do.

"I heard arguments like, 'Hey, I am following Pegida because I want to be informed.' My answer to that is Facebook 'likes' are a kind of currency. The more likes a site has, the more attention it gets, but you can follow without liking."

Pegida march in Dresden in December Pegida marches in Dresden have attracted thousands of supporters

The discreet nature of unfriending means it's hard to measure how widespread this trend actually is, but the idea does seem to be taking off.

"The unfriending campaign is pretty big here, I think everybody's aware of it," said Berlin-based social media writer Torsten Muller.

"I'm not sure it will achieve very much beyond stopping people with different views from talking, but maybe it has raised awareness that there are many people who feel strongly against Pegida."

Munster-based politics teacher Marina Weisband saw the unfriending blog appear several times in her newsfeed and clicked the link. It turned out she only had one Pegida-liking friend.

"He was an old school mate, who joined the police force straight from school I think," she said.

"I didn't try to engage him in conversation because he's not a close friend. If he was I might have tried to talk to him, but he wasn't so ..."

Would you unfriend someone for their political beliefs?

Facebook discussion thread
  • Some 56,000 #Pegida tweets were sent v 9,000 #NoPegida tweets over three days this week

Would you unfriend someone for their politics?

She's fully aware of the downsides of unfriending people with alternative viewpoints, namely narrowing the conversation and removing the chance for them to be influenced by more moderate views. But for her, the personal connection wasn't there to justify angsting over.

"Pegida is a sensitive topic, but I do think it's important for people to see they don't come from the centre and their views aren't widely accepted. They probably think, 'hey, we're just normal people with family and friends' but that's not actually the case, and maybe they will see that if they start to lose connections."

Marina wasn't the only one to respond to the unfriending call.

"I have [deleted friends] in self defence, because I caught myself in very unpleasant discussions with him or his 'friends'," one of her friends Ralph Pache said in response to her unfriending thread.

Not everyone is convinced by the strategy though.

German social media campaign Mit Dir picture wall One campaign group started a more inclusive social media campaign this week in an effort to demonstrate the multi-cultural nature of German society

Christoph Schott is Germany's head of e-campaigns at Avaaz, a global civic organisation that promotes activism. He says the divisive nature of the unfriending campaign worries him.

"I feel like it's not the right way to go about things. Pegida is making a big split in Germany and at hard times like this, with what is happening with Charlie Hebdo in France, we don't want to be divided here, we need to face these threats together.

"We exist both online and offline, so we can protest on the street and on social media. Unfriending is just one social media campaign but there have been online petitions too.

"At Avaaz we've just started Mit Dir to show how united and colourful we are."

The idea is for Germans to upload pictures and memes and also post photos of themselves in Germany with someone from another country, race or religion.

"Amid this political storm, we're trying to create a love storm," Schott says.

"The question of how you resolve this split appearing in our society is a big issue for us but we can only solve it together," he adds.

Blog by Sitala Peek

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


Trends of the week - in 60 seconds

Our quick-fire roundup of this week's trends.

A thread on Reddit lists US customs considered strange or pointless by non-Americans, and Venezuelans post pictures of empty supermarket shelves as a form of protest amid shortage problems.

These, and more social media trends of the week, in our 60-second round-up.

Produced by Samiha Nettikkara and India Rakusen

Video credits: APTN

Picture credits: Getty Images, ThinkStock, Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf

You can hear more from the BBC Trending team on BBC World Service every Saturday at 10:30 GMT, and you can subscribe to the free podcast here.

Want to watch more Trending videos? Subscribe to our YouTube channel here.


French forces get US Twitter respect

Freedom fries In the run-up to the Iraq War, many restaurants rebranded America's favourite side dish as "Freedom Fries"

In the US, France has long been something of a punchline.

"French" is shorthand for a sort of urbane, effete sensibility that stands in stark relief to how many Americans like to picture themselves - brash, rugged, and rural.

In 2003, after France opposed America's plans to invade Iraq, the Congressional cafeteria even renamed their chips "freedom fries", a term that was adopted in restaurants across the country.

But after gunman involved in two separate hostage situations were killed by French special forces, Americans on Twitter have a newfound admiration for their French counterparts.

"Seems like awfully impressive work by French security forces," says Vox writer Matt Yglesias, while Boston Globe columnist Michael Cohen was more succinct. "French Special Forces > Russian Special Forces," he said.

Others were questioning the familiar tropes.

"So will Congress go back to calling them French fries now?" wrote political scientist Daniel Drezner. (The joke is on him, as the menu changed back in 2006.)

And remember that line about "surrender monkeys" that has come to be a favourite of those disparaging the French? New York Times Columnist Ross Douthat says it's time for a re-think.

"Seems like the phrase people are looking for is 'cheese-eating ruthlessly efficient badasses.'" he quipped.

Tech investor Martin Green is not surprised: "The French are well known for culture, fashion, and food but they also have very good special forces troopers," he wrote.

But will these elite commandos become as iconic as the the baguette and the Champs-Elysees?

Maybe not. But it seems that Americans are beginning to realise to see that high culture and high-precision military might aren't mutually exclusive.

Reported by Kate Dailey and Paul Blake

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


The Saudis who say a liberal blogger 'deserves to be lashed'

Cartoon of a pen being flogged

Thousands of Saudis took to Twitter to share their reaction to news of prominent Saudi blogger and activist Raif Badawi getting flogged by authorities in Jeddah on Friday for "insulting Islam."

Two Arabic hashtags that translate to "Raif Badawi's public lashing" and " lashing Raif Badawi" trended in Saudi Arabia with more than 250,000 tweets after news of carrying out the first round of lashes on Badawi was announced.

Badawi was arrested in June 2012 and sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes after being charged with offences ranging from cybercrime to disobeying his father and insulting Islam on his "Saudi Liberal Network" website - which is now offline.

The punishment has been condemned by the US and human rights organizations. But the online conversation is far less united on the matter.

Raif Badawi

Saudi Arabia adheres to a strict interpretation of Islamic law and it is still taboo to have open discussions about religion. Apostasy - renouncing Islam - carries the death penalty, and in 2008 Badawi was arrested and accused of that crime (although he was later released). So it came as little surprise to Saudis that the authorities would carry out the lashing.

"He established a network to spread apostasy and to offend religion and the prophet's verses and some people cry for him, I say he deserves more than this," one Saudi twitter user commented.

But there were many who expressed their anger and dismay at the sentence, especially at a time when Saudi Arabia is battling with extreme fundamentalism.

"It's religious extremism that deserves punishment because it's what brought us the Islamic State and not liberalism which fights extremism" commented another Saudi on Twitter.

And while #JeSuisCharlie trended worldwide after the Charlie Hebdo attack, some of those who support Badawi started #JeSuisRaif to raise awareness about his case.

Je Suis Raif

Maryam Namazie tweeted "All those tweeting #JeSuisCharlie should also tweet #JeSuisRaif. @raif_badawi sentenced to 10 years prison & 1000 lashes. Saudi Govt STOP".

Badawi's wife, Ensaf Haider, who is currently living in Canada, said she was hoping the authorities wouldn't carry out the sentence.

"I've been in shock since hearing the news yesterday. My husband doesn't deserve this," she told BBC Trending.

But Haider was less surprised with the reactions online.

"I found supporting messages from around the world more than I did from Saudi Arabia. I suppose people are scared of the authorities," she said.

Elham Manea, an associate professor of politics at Zurich University, believes that there could be a possible number of reasons why the punishment was carried out.

"It could be because Saudi Arabia wants to show that it will not submit to international pressure," said Manea, who has been campaigning for Badawi's release. "It could also be about an internal struggle and rivalry inside the ruling family."

"But I'd say the most likely possibility is that the ruling family needs the support of the religious establishment against the tides of Arab Spring and dissident voices inside the kingdom, so this is what they are offering in exchange for their support," said Manea.

Both Manea and Haider are sceptical about the authorities responding to international pressure.

"I hope that our efforts to try to free Badawi will succeed but I cannot tell if Saudi Arabia will feel it needs to respond to international pressure now that it sees itself as vital ally in the fight against terrorism," Manea said.

Blog by Mai Noman

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


Irish famine comedy: Your reaction

Illustration of a woman with starving child in Irish potato famine Misery loves comedy: could the Great Famine ever be funny?

This week we wrote about the uproar over plans by British television network Channel 4 to commission a comedy script about the Irish famine.

Dubbed 'Shameless in famine Ireland' some people weren't too impressed with the notion that one of Ireland's greatest travesties could be the backdrop for a telly giggle.

As expected, the blog generated lots of comments from people saying that the idea was "not funny" and that there were "some sick idiots in the arts today."

But there were also plenty of people who defended the concept and pointed out that it would not be like reinventing the wheel. Well-known British and American comedies like Black Adder, 'Allo 'Allo and Hogan's Heroes were cited as examples where comedy was "a useful way to tell a story and convey pathos."

Some readers even shared jokes about the famine: "well if it's only potatoes you do pay the price for being a fussy eater."

There was also a mix of tweets in the Irish language, which thanks to the Irish contingent of our team we have responded to "as Ghaeilge" (in other words, "in Irish"). And the Irish comedian Dara O Briain (no less!) got entangled in this discussion with Twitter user @CromwellStuff over claims that we're "overpaid idiots at the BBC". O Briain politely deflected a request to produce his birth certificate in order to prove his Irishness, and made it clear where he stood on the possible sitcom.

"It isn't even written yet, so not feeling very outraged," he tweeted.

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


Why are Venezuelans posting pictures of empty shelves?

Picture taken by Luis Perdomo in Puerto Cabello

Thousands of Venezuelans have been posting pictures of empty supermarket shelves online - but what is driving the trend?

Shortages of basic products are not new in Venezuela. For the past couple of years, there have been intermittent shortages, mostly outside the capital Caracas. To get everything on their weekly shopping list, Venezuelans have to scout around - and sometimes make do without. In a deeply divided country there's no agreement on why these shortages are happening - with the opposition blaming the government controls and the government citing a conspiracy by the rich against the poor.

So why did posting pictures of empty shelves suddenly become a thing on Venezuelan social media this week? The hashtag #AnaquelesVaciosEnVenezuela ("Empty shelves in Venezuela") became a worldwide Twitter trend, with over 200,000 tweets.

BBC Trending have established that it all began on New Year's Eve, when photographer Alejandro Cegarra stood across the street from a branch of the Excelsior Gama supermarket chain. He was trying to take a shot of the many long queues outside the store. He was approached by officers of the National Guard who ordered him to stop, and he live tweeted about it - capturing the attention of hundreds.

Translation: "@Excelsior_Gama unless your policy is to attack a journalist with the National Guard, speak with the manager of Santa Eduvigis branch" Translation: "@Excelsior_Gama unless your policy is to attack a journalist with the National Guard, speak with the manager of Santa Eduvigis branch"

The supermarket manager then also approached Cegerra and told him to stop taking pictures, even though he was not actually inside the premises. Then, as Cegarra also tweeted, the manager asked a National Guard officer to arrest him.

"Another person claiming to be a journalist from newspaper El Nacional came to my support," Cegarra told BBC Trending. "He warned the officer that if he was planning to detain me, then he would have to take him too."

By then, his comments had been retweeted hundreds of times. Excelsior Gama subsequently apologised to him for the incident, but that didn't stop thousands of others posting pictures of empty shelves as a form of protest.

Venezuelan society is polarised, and the vast majority of those posting these images are people openly opposed to the government. One of the first was commercial pilot Oliver Laufer, who has over 14,000 followers on Twitter. His picture is from a different branch of the same retailer, where he seems to have deliberately provoked a confrontation. He found what he was looking for; his message was retweeted thousands of times.

A tweet in Spanish with images of supermarket shelves beneath it Translation: "@Excelsior_Gama just banned me from taking pictures of the empty shelves and people queuing to buy soap."

"Our staff didn't know what he [Laufer] was taking pictures of and as soon as he was questioned, he got violent," Natacka Ruiz, Excelsior Gama's marketing manager, told BBC Trending. According to Ruiz, Excelsior Gama and other retailers in Venezuela restrict the use of cameras inside their stores for "strategic reasons" to do with marketing. "We invest a lot of money in figuring out the best way to display our products in order to increase our sales," she says. But why can't people take images of empty shelves? "The current situation doesn't mean that we don't have to stick to our rules," she says, "and we also have to preserve our staff's privacy."

Over the days that followed, social media users posted images taken from different supermarket chains - not just Excelsior Gama - all over the country.

Picture taken by Lila Echezuria in the city of Maracay on 6 Jan Picture taken by Lila Echezuria in the city of Maracay on 6 Jan

This week, there has been further speculation about product shortages in Venezuela, after McDonalds began replacing French fries with cassava chips - or other non-potato alternatives - although the reasons behind this are unclear.

Blog by Gabriela Torres

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


The strange persistence of the odd 'Page X' trend

The life cycle of silly trends is pretty simple. They get big quick, then die quick.

And so it seemed to be for the trend "Page X of 365" - a meme comparing every day of 2015 to the pages of a moderately thick book. The tag was used mostly to post profundities:

Page 6 of 365. The tongue has no bone, but can break a heart.

Or mark mundanity:

Page 5 of 365 - Not so good.

Like with New Year's resolutions or Capital in the Twenty-First Century, people soon slipped away - the trend fell from nearly half a million tweets marking Page 1 on 1 Jan to about 6,000 on 6 Jan.

Something strange happened on 7 Jan however - the trend got a small but significant boost.

graph of 'Page X' tweets

The surge was in part down to people wondering why other Twitter users were still bothering to mark the days.

how long are people going to do this?

Will Page 8 continue the comeback (as of writing it appears to have got off to a slow start, with around 3,000 total tweets)? Or was the popularity of Page 7 just a dead-cat bounce? We'll be reading until the end of the book (or at least until the pages go completely blank).

Blog by Mike Wendling

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


Why the popularity of #killallmuslims is not all it seems

One of the more shocking Twitter hashtags to take off after the Charlie Hebdo attacks was #Killallmuslims, which has been tweeted about 100,000 times. But its popularity is not all it seems.

#Killallmuslims had been circulating at a very low level since 2013, and was given a boost by the attacks and its use by a Twitter user based in the US who was also posting hugely provocative images of Muslims and the Prophet Muhammad.

But what really propelled the trend were tweets by Muslims and others against the violent message. Nearly all of the most retweeted messages using #killallmuslims were actually criticising the sentiment.

People have no heart who really want to #KillAllMuslims

In the immediate aftermath of the attacks on Charlie Hebdo, millions tweeted messages of solidarity under the hashtag #jesuischarlie ("I am Charlie"), and it continues to be a top trend worldwide.

With 2.8m tweets, #jesuischarlie dwarfs all other Charlie Hebdo trends. But other, more complicated reactions to the attacks have cropped up online.

Others - about 20,000 in all - used the hashtag #JeNeSuisPasCharlie ("I am not Charlie"). Many of those tweeters were distancing themselves from from the magazine's controversial - some of them say racist - depictions of Muslims and other minority groups in France. For instance, Charlie Hebdo once depicted French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira, who is black, as a monkey. The magazine is part of the French-language tradition of Bandes dessinées ("drawn strips"), some of which are provocative to a degree rarely seen in mainstream English-speaking media, even in the most satirical outlets.

JesuisAhmed

Another group has picked out one victim of the attackers - 42-year-old policeman Ahmed Merabet, a Muslim who was shot in the street outside the Charlie Hebdo offices. The first person to use the #jesuisahmed ("I am Ahmed") was a French magazine publisher living in Morocco, Julien Casters, who tweets as @JulesLmeghribi (Jules the Moroccan).

"I decided to start the #jesuisahmed hashtag to remember that a French Muslim was also a victim of the attack," Casters told BBC Trending via email. "It is a snub to the stigmatisation of Islam and a reminder that Muslims in France are not all Islamist radicals. It seemed important to try to unite two years before the presidential elections in France, since the only ones to benefit from these terrorist acts are the extreme right political parties.

"I only wanted to share my opinion and my state of mind with my close friends and followers ... it seems that many people share my beliefs and did what's necessary to relay it to the masses."

#jesuisahmed has been mentioned more than 40,000 times on Twitter since the attacks.

Reporting by Sitala Peek, Ravin Sampat and Gabriela Torres

Blog by Mike Wendling

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


What do non-Americans find strange about the United States?

Almost 40,000 people have commented on a thread on Reddit which asked non-Americans to talk about US customs they find strange, pointless or even outrageous.

The way prices are marked in US shops, large numbers of lawyers or obsessive tipping ... it appears the American way is not for everybody.

But for BBC Trending's Random American Guy, all of these things are just common sense.

Video Journalist: Alvaro A. Ricciardelli

That's the Americans, but what baffles the world about the British? Watch our video report on that here

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending. All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


Charlie Hebdo attack: the response in pictures

There has been an outpouring of posts on social media in the wake of the attacks in Paris, with 1.3m tweets alone using the hashtag #CharlieHebdo.

This graphic (in English: "I am Charlie") was shared more than 140,000 times in the first hours after the attacks.

Je Suis Charlie poster image being shared on Twitter

The magazine itself then published a PDF with the same phrase translated into seven different languages.

"I am Charlie" graphic in Persian

Le Monde and L'Express cartoonist @plantu tweeted this image. The text reads: "We are wholeheartedly with Charlie Hebdo".

Plantu tribute after Charlie Hebdo  attack

A 2012 cartoon from the New Yorker was shared more than 6,000 times in the first few hours after the attack.

Cartoon featured in the New Yorker in 2012

Charlie Hebdo's editor-in-chief Gerard Biard, who was in London during the attack, said: "I don't understand how people can attack a newspaper with heavy weapons. A newspaper is not a weapon of war." Cartoonists picked up on the 'mighty pen' theme.

Cartoon of attackers holding a paintbrush

There were many variations on the theme questioning how lethal a cartoonist can actually be. The cartoon below says: "Why? ... Pump-action rifle? ... Kalashnikov? ... Grenade?"

Translation: "Why? ... Pump-action rifle? ... Kalashnikov? ... Grenade?"

Previous Charlie Hebdo covers were also being shared on social media. The text of the most popular reads: "Love is stronger than hate" and shows the editor of the magazine kissing a figure that many have interpreted as the Prophet or one of his followers.

That front cover was published after the magazine's offices were attacked in Nov 2011.

Dutch cartoonist Ruben Oppenheimer drew parallels between Wednesday's shootings and the 9/11 attacks.

Two pencils represent the Twin Towers attack

Australian cartoonist David Pope shared an emotional tweet that was shared more than 30,000 times.

David Pope tribute to Charlie Hebdo workers

Some posters went straight to the heart of the issue by sharing a cartoon by the French artist Delize. The text reads: "Believers hurt by non-believers" (the man crying on the left) and "Non-believers hurt by believers." (the man lying in the pool of blood on the right).

A cartoon by French artist Delize of a man reading a newspaper and a wounded man lying on the ground

Blog by Sitala Peek

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


Charlie Hebdo's mysterious last tweet before attack

Updated 8 Jan: the death of cartoonist Honoré in the attack on Charlie Hebdo has been confirmed.

There has been much media focus on the last tweet sent from the @Charlie_Hebdo_ account before the attack which killed 12 and left several more seriously injured.

The tweet showed a cartoon image of the Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and came with a puzzling caption: "Best wishes. To you too, Al-Baghdadi." To which the al-Baghdadi is depicted as replying: "And especially good health."

As we reported earlier, the tweet was time stamped Wednesday morning, Paris time. It's not clear whether it was sent before or just after the attack began, but it was posted before news of the shootings broke.

The last tweet sent Wednesday morning by @Charlie_Hebdo_

There's been speculation on whether the attack was related in some way to the image. In fact, the cartoon doesn't appear to have been used before by the magazine, but it also seems to be continuation on a theme. This week's printed edition included a comic with the headline: "There haven't been any attacks in France" but a character wearing a turban with a Kalashnikov rifle strapped to his back saying: "Wait - we still have until the end of January to extend our wishes." In France, it's traditional to offer New Year's greetings until the end of January.

Close-up of Charlie Hebdo tweet showing the signature of "Honore" Close-up of Charlie Hebdo tweet showing the signature of "Honore"

Is it just a coincidence that this image was tweeted at around the time of the attack? Some in the French-language press have speculated that the magazine could have been the victim of hackers. The illustration bears the signature of Honoré, a famous French illustrator who was killed in the attack - it's unclear when it was actually drawn.

This week's Charlie Hebdo cover shows a cartoon of controversial author Michel Houellebecq, whose latest novel imagines a France run by an Islamic party, where women are encouraged to wear veils, polygamy is legal and the Koran is taught at universities. The BBC has more on the debate over that book.

This week's Charlie Hebdo cover. Translation: "The predictions of fortune-teller Houellebecq. 'In 2015, I lose my teeth ... in 2022, I fast for Ramadan.'" This week's Charlie Hebdo cover. Translation: "The predictions of fortune-teller Houellebecq. 'In 2015, I lose my teeth ... in 2022, I fast for Ramadan.'"

Blog by Estelle Doyle and Mike Wendling

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


How Pakistan feels about Imran Khan's new wife

Pakistani cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan

When Pakistan's opposition leader re-married in secret, it was always going to cause a stir.

Imran Khan reportedly confirmed on Monday that he was a married man. He was speaking to reporters at Heathrow Airport before flying home to Pakistan to "share the good news" with the nation.

Reham Khan Reham left the BBC in 2013

His countrymen have taken to Facebook and Twitter expressing mixed feelings about his marriage to Pakistan's Dawn News political talk show host and former BBC Weather presenter @rehamkhan1.

#BestOfLuckIK has gained more than 11,000 retweets in 24 hours. But it is battling it out with an outpouring of love for Imran Khan's ex-wife Jemima Khan, with Pakistanis reposting archived photos of her on their timelines.

There are also snipes on Twitter and Facebook at his new wife Reham.

She has hit back on her own Twitter account.

Tweet by Reham Khan

She was quick to comment on photos circulating of her allegedly emerging from a sex shop, which she said were fake and had been photoshopped.

Many archive pictures from Reham's BBC presenting days are circulating on social media along with protracted conversations about the length of her skirt.

Imran Khan with Jemima at an election rally Imran and Jemima married in 1995 and their marriage was dissolved in 2004

Jemima Khan is being 'love bombed' by tweets from Pakistan and has been replying to many of them thanking people for their support.

Jemima Khan tweets her thanks to Pakistanis for their show of support after news emerged of his marriage to Reham

A sample of those tweets read: Jemima Khan "You will remain respectable as a daughter, sister and mother for millions of #Pakistanis."

"U will remain the First Lady Ma'am. No-one like Reham can replace you!!"

She also tweeted a response to the news of the marriage acknowledging that she will always feel like an honorary Pakistani citizen and wishing Imran happiness. "I'll always love Pakistan," she said.

Imran Khan's only reference to his marriage on social media was this tweet posted on Twitter and Facebook on 31 December. He did not deny it but said reports of his marriage were "greatly exaggerated."

Tweet by Imran Khan

Reporting by Sitala Peek


Tweets from Charlie Hebdo attack scene

As the attack on a satirical magazine unfolded in Paris, Twitter and Facebook have been playing a role - including posts from the scene.

One of the most dramatic images was tweeted by journalist Martin Boudot who was apparently sheltering with colleagues on the roof of a building during the assault on the offices of Charlie Hebdo. The tweet was later deleted but not before being shared thousands of times.

Translation: "Attack by two hooded men on the offices of Charlie Hebdo. We've taken refuge on the roof" Translation: "Attack by two hooded men on the offices of Charlie Hebdo. We've taken refuge on the roof"

Another journalist apparently tweeting from near the scene of the attack shared this aerial view of a victim being taken from the building.

This image was tweeted with the text: "A second seriously injured person is taken out #CharlieHebdo" This image was tweeted with the text: "A second seriously injured person is taken out #CharlieHebdo"

Speculation has centred on the last tweet sent from the @Charlie_Hebdo_ account, which shows a cartoon image of the Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and a rather anodyne message: "Best wishes, by the way." The tweet was time stamped Wednesday morning, Paris time. However it is not known whether the tweet was sent before or during the attack, whether the magazine had used the image before or what link - if any at all - it has to the shootings.

Comic caption: "Best wishes. To you too, Al-Baghdadi."  Baghdadi's quote: "And especially good health." Comic caption: "Best wishes. To you too, Al-Baghdadi." Baghdadi's quote: "And especially good health."

Meanwhile others were sending messages of support under the hashtag #JeSuisCharlie - "I am Charlie." It has been shared more than 20,000 times in the last hour.

Translation: "I am Charlie"

We'll post more as we get it.

Blog by Mike Wendling, Estelle Doyle and Ravin Sampat

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


What's funny about the Irish famine?

Famine Memorial in Dublin Irish famine memorial sculpture in Dublin

Plans for a comedy series set during the Irish potato famine have hit a nerve on social media. Are some subjects still taboo in a country famed for its dark humour?

Last week it emerged that the British broadcaster Channel 4 has commissioned an Irish writer, Hugh Travers, to pen a television pilot about a subject of his choice. That choice has proved hugely controversial. Provisionally called Hunger, his script is still in development and like many nascent projects, might never be filmed. But the mere suggestion of a comedy based on one of Ireland's bleakest periods has led more than 30,000 people to sign a petition on Change.org.

"I don't want to do anything that denies the suffering that people went through, but Ireland has always been good at black humour," Travers told the Irish Times.

More than a million people died and another two million emigrated during the famine in the mid-1800s, the result of potato blight and exports of food to Great Britain, which ruled the entire island at the time.

"Reducing the Irish famine to comedy is very trite. It's an attempt to trivialise an epic tragedy," Niall O'Dowd, founder of Irish Central, told BBC Trending. "Everything is disposable in this selfie generation. But there are limits to comedy. You can't shout 'fire' in a crowded theatre as a joke. The famine is not a topic for laughter."

On social media there was a mixed reaction. "What exactly is funny about over 1 million people starving to death?!" asked one Twitter user.

Tweet by Irish comedy group the rubber bandits

Others defended the idea in the interest of freedom of expression.

"Signing a petition that could prohibit Channel 4 from potentially developing a famine-centred sitcom is effectively condoning censorship." tweeted Anna Ni Uiginn.

If Hunger ends up on air, it won't be the first time the famine has featured in television comedy.

The Irish comedian Dave McSavage made this sketch about it back in 2009. It was televised on Ireland's national broadcaster RTE. And perhaps unsurprisingly, he's a staunch defender of the right of comics to poke fun at anything they choose.

"The idea of not being able to talk about the famine through comedy is bonkers. There's no subject off limits. That's like saying history is off limits." McSavage told BBC Trending. "Comedy and laughter is a sign of health and mental well-being. What's important is the context and how it's presented."

McSavage's routines also include jokes about paedophile priests and the Catholic Church. In 2014, RTE pulled the plug on a video he made due to "blasphemous content". It included salacious shots of nuns ogling a scantily clad Jesus.

But the comedian remains defiant about the power of comedy to heal old wounds.

"It's good to open things up. It sounds like the people against Hunger are close-minded nationalists," he said. "Comedy is tragedy plus time. The famine was a tragedy but enough time has passed."

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


#KirbyDelauter becomes a Twitter punching bag

A tweet about Kirby Delauter by Kevin Bowen

Kirby Delauter would probably not approve of this blog post.

The Frederick County, Maryland, council member recently threatened his local paper, the News-Post, with a lawsuit if it printed his name without permission. The dispute was the result of what Mr Delauter says was unfair coverage by Bethany Rodgers, one of the paper's reporters.

"Shame on Bethany Rodgers for an unauthorised use of my name and my reference in her article today," he wrote on his Facebook page.

"Bethany, please understand, when you do a hit piece, you need to know who you're dealing with," he continued.

Ms Rodgers responded, in part: "It is not just our right but our responsibility to report on people like you, who occupy positions of trust in our government, and I make no apologies for doing that." At which point, Mr Delauter replied that if her paper used his name again, "you'll be paying for an attorney. Your rights stop where mine start."

Mr Delauter received the paper's answer shortly after midnight on Tuesday, when the News-Post published an editorial titled "Kirby Delauter, Kirby Delauter, Kirby Delauter" on its website.

Over the course of 13 paragraphs, the editors printed the politician's name - and variations on it - dozens of times. And the first letter of every paragraph spelled out "KIRBY DELAUTER".

Andrew Langer tweets about Kirby Delauter.

"Kirby Delauter's ignorance of what journalism is and does is no joke, and illustrates one disturbing aspect too prevalent in conservatives' beliefs: That the media are all liberal stooges hell-bent on pursuing some fictional left-wing agenda," they write.

Meanwhile, thanks in part to coverage from the national press, including the Washington Post, the Huffington Post and the Chicago Sun-Times, #kirbydelauter became a Twitter trend and a fake Twitter account, @KirbyDelauter, was born.

"Today is the day the Internet put its foot on Kirby Delauter's neck," tweets media critic Jack Shafer.

The Cincinnati Enquirer's Amber Hunt says she "might add #KirbyDelauter to every tweet today, no matter the subject, in Fourth Estate solidarity."

Others took a more pessimistic view. Slate writer Alec MacGillis tweets: "The #KirbyDelauter story's hilarious, but in all seriousness, this is what comes of decline of local press: pols think coverage is optional."

Perhaps Steve Earley summed it up best, however: "If you don't want journalists to use your name, don't tell them they can't."

You can say that again - and so can Kirby Delauter.

Blog by Anthony Zurcher

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


Why some people are so upset over #blackbrunch

we wanna change

It started as a creative method of protest against police violence in America.

The hashtag #blackbrunch hit New York City over the weekend. It was used by protesters who interrupted meals at several restaurants. They recited the names of African Americans killed by police, security guards or vigilantes, an action one organiser says was inspired by the civil rights protests of the 1950s and 60s.

The breakfast interruptions started in relative obscurity last month on the other side of the US in Oakland, California as a tactic to highlight allegations of police brutality. Wazi Davis was one of the people who organised the initial protests.

"Me and my friends wanted to be protesting and be in the streets, but a lot of the protests we saw happening were not organised by black folks at all," Davis says.

brunch tweet

Targeting brunch at upscale restaurants was seen by activists as one way of taking a message to a new demographic group - wealthy and predominately white.

brunch tweet

"We march, chant and sing together as we claim space in areas that are predominantly non-Black," according to a manual posted online by The BlackOUT Collective, one of the groups behind the original protests.

Thousands of people have tweeted under the #blackbrunch and #blackbrunchnyc tags over the last few days. But several of the most popular comments were anti-protest.

tweet with gun picture John Cardillo claimed his tweet was meant to be provocative but not threatening.

One of the more attention-grabbing tweets (above) was sent by John Cardillo, a businessman and former New York City police officer.

"I found this group to be incredibly cowardly, this was a feel-good measure and they picked the softest target imaginable," Cardillo told BBC Trending. "It was incredibly tasteless to do this during the funeral of a police officer [in New York City on Sunday]. It was in incredibly poor taste and it was counterproductive to their mission."

During Sunday's funeral of one of two officers shot dead by a man who wrote online missives against the police, New York City officers turned their backs on Mayor Bill de Blasio to express their unhappiness at his handling of anti-police protests.

Cardillo says his tweet was deliberately provocative but wasn't meant as an actual threat - he lives in Miami, far from the scene of the protests - and denied that there was a racial motivation to his criticism. He says he would have supported the protesters if they had been on the street rather than in restaurants and that he was testing the reaction of some tweeters.

"These people who are screaming about my photograph, I didn't see any of them shouting about the murder of two cops," he says.

Wazi Davis, the protest organiser, says criticism - both online and off - hasn't put activists off their brunch protests.

"We had a mix of reactions. Some people were really moved by the message we brought. Some came up to us and asked how they could help. Others you could see the clear annoyance on their faces.

"#Blackbrunch is definitely going to continue."

Blog by Mike Wendling

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


Could an awkward hug derail a career?

Chris Christie attempts high five resulting in group hug Chris Christie (right) attempted a double high-five

That awkward moment when your high-five isn't returned.

It happened to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie - @GovChristie on Twitter - who was left hanging after a Dallas Cowboys win on Sunday.

The governor's name has been trending continuously since Sunday night along with a vine of the cringey moment.

It has led some political commentators to claim it's damaged his chances of becoming a Republican presidential candidate.

Tweet by Byron York

Helen Munro, managing director of the Whitehouse Consultancy, a London-based PR agency for politicians and public servants, says: "You would expect a potential presidential candidate to command greater attention in these situations, however it is unlikely that this would manifest in the end of Mr Christie's presidential aspirations.

"Of course, world leaders need to look appropriate, but voters also want to see they're individuals.

"Mr Christie is caught up in the exuberance of the moment and most people would relate to that."

And some posters agree with that perspective:

Tweet by @Bunkrd

But political blogger Mark Yzaguirre, who writes for publications including the Huffington Post, says the clip may have hurt the governor's electoral appeal exactly because of his desire to come across as an everyman.

"He's trying to portray himself as a candidate of the people more than (former Republican presidential candidate) Mitt Romney can. When you're an everyman candidate, to be filmed hugging the owner of the Dallas Cowboys in the owner's box, well it doesn't look good does it?"

Some constituents also took umbrage at the governor's sporting allegiances. New Jersey is home to two professional American football teams - the New York Giants and the New York Jets - and also contains a sizeable contingent of fans of the nearby Philadelphia Eagles. Dallas, on the other hand, is about 2,500 km away. There were also evergreen jibes about the governor's substantial weight.

The governor's brother Todd quickly came out in defence of Chris, posting the following on Facebook:

"To all those non Cowboy fans who have their panties in a ringer because the Governor of NJ is a Cowboys fan---GET A LIFE !!! The Gov has been a Cowboys fan for his entire life and ALL of you would sit with the owner of your favourite team in a heartbeat if given the chance ... And for every calorically challenged FB person who posts about the Gov's weight--forget the magic mirror and look at yourself. Weight posts---really?"

The bad news for Chris Christie is that even if he does manage to win the golden ticket to the White House (he says he will decide early this year whether to run in 2016), there will be plenty more opportunities for socially awkward moments.

Awkwardness in itself is no barrier to becoming president. The 37th US president, Richard Nixon, was the epitome of a socially awkward leader. When a policeman was knocked off his motorcycle by the presidential motorcade, Nixon apparently asked him how he liked his job, in an attempt to show compassion.

Awkwardness can befall even the most socially gifted. Barack Obama abnormally lost his cool during an unfortunate three-way handshake at the G20 summit in Brisbane.

Barack Obama, Tony Abbott and Shinzo Abe share an awkward three-way handshake

President Putin was snapped in a finger pointing encounter with Tony Abbott, also at the G20 summit.

Tony Abbott and Vladimir Putin

And let's not forget the Thai prime minister head-patting strangeness that we reported on in November.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha's hand pats the head of a journalist kneeled in front of him throughout a press briefing

Maybe we just have to live with the fact that sporting victories can animate the most unlikely of people and world leaders aren't immune to celebrating either. Remember this from Chelsea's Champions League win over Bayern Munich?

World leaders react to a Champions League goal

But there is an upside for the governor. As CBS St Louis radio presenter Greg Hewitt said: "At least they're not talking about that damn bridge anymore." - a reference to allegations that the governor closed a key crossing into New York City to punish a political opponent.

Tweet by @GregHewittSTL

Political blogger Mark Yzaguirre said the best thing the governor could do for himself now was to laugh it off.

"When his brother came out and defended him, he didn't say it was trivial, because he knows it matters. They care about this and because it's on social media it is not going to go away. This clip is going to be replayed and replayed until the election," he says. "In the next few days Christie should post a response to all the memes. He could do one of him dancing around with someone else."

Let that be a warning: more Chris Christie dancing clips could be on the way.

Reporting by Sitala Peek

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


What got hot and what did not in 2014

Dog dancing with spiderman

What were the top trends of 2014?

We've produced two interactive videos to remind you of some of the things that went big on social media - or fill you in on what you might have missed. You can explore more on any of the stories covered by clicking on the screen to watch full videos or blog posts.

INTERACTIVE VIDEO: Part 1: January to June / Part 2: July to December

Video Journalist: Neil Meads

Having problems viewing this interactive look back? You can watch a version on our YouTube channel.

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


#BBCtrending radio: Which social platforms will be hot in 2015?

Using social media in 2015

Stream BBC Trending's latest programme or download the podcast.

BBC Trending reports here on this blog, but we're also on the BBC World Service. Every week we cover the latest in social media on our radio programme, exploring what's viral and why.

This week we take a look at which social media platforms the biggest memes, videos and hashtags have been shared on, and how that might change in 2015. Will the talk be on chat apps like WhatsApp, WeChat or Snapchat? We speak to David Karp the CEO of Tumblr, and to actress and model Lily Cole about her new platform based on sharing. The Trending team also divulge their insightful yet sometimes baffling social media predictions for the coming year.

Presented by Anne-Marie Tomchak and Charlotte McDonald.

You can put us in your pocket and listen anytime by downloading our free podcast. We're on BBC World Service radio at 10:30 GMT on Saturdays.


Lily Cole's social network ambition

trending

The model and actress Lily Cole has been running her own social network, Impossible, for a year.

The site allows people to ask for something they need, or offer what they can give for free - without expecting anything in return.

But is it impossibly idealistic? BBC Trending catches up with Cole.

Reporter: Anne-Marie Tomchak

Video Journalist: Alvaro Alvarez

Want more? Watch our profiles of the stars of social media on BBC Trending's YouTube channel.

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending. All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


The top trends of 2015 (maybe)

GoPro grannies

From record-breaking selfies to ice-bucket charity challenges, 2014 has been a fascinating year of top trends. So what's going to go viral in 2015? What new trends can we expect?

GoPro grannies, a new teen internet sensation, or the latest charity nomination craze that might involve building a hut, perhaps. Here are some predictions for 2015 from the team behind BBC Trending.

Produced by Ravin Sampat, Charlotte McDonald, Samiha Nettikkara, and Gabriela Torres

Video credits: Herbert Midgley, BBC, October 26th Movement, The News Hub. Image credits: Getty, ThinkStock

You can hear more from the BBC Trending team on BBC World Service every Saturday at 10:30 GMT, and you can subscribe to the free podcast here. Want to watch more Trending videos? Subscribe to our YouTube channel here.


A transgender teen's last note

Leelah Alcorn

"If you are reading this, it means I have committed suicide and obviously failed to delete this post from my queue."

So starts a suicide note written by Leelah Alcorn, a 17-year-old transgender teenager who died this week in the US state of Ohio. Alcorn scheduled the note to be published several hours after her death.

In the letter posted on Tumblr, she said she killed herself after years of struggling with her strict Christian parents' refusal to acknowledge her true identity as a female.

"There's no winning. There's no way out... People say 'it gets better' but that isn't true in my case. It gets worse. Each day I get worse," Alcorn wrote in the post which has since been reblogged more than 196,000 times. The hashtag #LeelahAlcorn also went viral, with more than 243,000 mentions over two days.

Alcorn ended her note with a plea: "The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren't treated the way I was... My death needs to mean something. Fix society. Please."

Many saw the public suicide note as a way to both provide awareness of trans issues and provide Alcorn a final measure of dignity.

"By scheduling tumblr posts, #LeelahAlcorn defeated measures by her parents to defame her legacy, her life, herself," wrote Twitter user @Unit0053.

User @RozeWithaZee tweeted, "Just had an epiphany that #Tumblr saved #LeelahAlcorn's life from being misrepresented entirely. She was able to tell her actual story."

But experts say there are risks to a message of this nature going viral.

"In a way, it's a double-edged sword," said Christine Moutier, chief medical officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Moutier explained that stories like Alcorn's can be used to raise awareness about suicide, transgender issues and mental illness - but that high-profile suicides sometimes come with tragic, unintended consequences.

"It's sensationalised in and of itself," Moutier said of the post, noting that the phenomenon of suicide contagion, where one suicide leads to the death of others, is especially high among troubled teens.

Moutier also notes that while Alcorn's note focuses on the external circumstances that led her to kill herself - what she felt was a lack of acceptance by her religious parents - it only touches on the mental health problems that underlie more than 90% of suicides.

Tumblr could not comment on Leelah Alcorn's post, but the sharing platform's community guidelines seem to reflect the grey area between using social media as a forum to help those who feel alienated and alone, and the danger of providing a place where disturbing messages can be shared globally.

The policy states "don't post content that actively promotes or glorifies self harm," but recognises that the internet is a place where people dealing with suicidal thoughts, eating disorders and cutting look for support.

"Dialogue about these behavours is incredibly important and online communities can be extraordinarily helpful to people struggling with these difficult conditions. We aim for Tumblr to be a place that facilitates awareness, support and recovery, and we will remove only those posts or blogs that cross the line into active promotion or glorification of self-harm."

Whether Alcorn's note is seen as a springboard for change or a trigger for other at-risk youths remains up for debate - but either way, her note has sparked a global conversation.

Reporting by Brenna Cammeron

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


Tumblr CEO: Focusing on storytelling and self-expression

David Karp founder of Tumblr

Is Tumblr the most expressive social platform? Founder and CEO David Karp reckons so. He says Tumblr is the place where people can reveal their true identity and creativity. And while he admits that other sites like Facebook and Twitter have been pivotal in bringing about social and political change, Karp argues that Tumblr - owned by Yahoo - has a different, more reflective, role to play.

The site has more than 213 million registered users and quite a young user base - over half of visitors are under 25. And while it's popular in the UK, Brazil and Australia, the US is still one of its biggest markets, accounting for 40% of traffic. BBC Trending's Anne-Marie Tomchak caught up with David Karp.

David, there were changes made to Tumblr in 2014. Tell us about some of the latest developments?

We are constantly working to stretch the canvas to make Tumblr a bigger, more expressive platform for more talented and aspiring creators. So some of the really exciting stuff that we got to in 2014 was around mobile expression. We also did some really innovative stuff in video.

Is Tumblr's goal to become a direct competitor of YouTube?

Absolutely not. We just want Tumblr to be a better place for all video - a better place for those YouTube creators to share their stuff, and a canvas where those creators also have the opportunity to throw their videos directly onto Tumblr.

Why would someone go to Tumblr for video if they can already do it on YouTube?

One of the reasons we've had such a community of creators is because Tumblr is a place where you can build something from scratch with complete control of how you present yourself and how you put your work out there into the world. You're not limited to just your videos or photos. There's good reason to use lots of platforms, but Tumblr for many of these creators ends up being their true identity on the web and it gets syndicated out to a lot of these networks.

#IlustradoresConAyotzinapa Illustrations of 43 missing Mexican students were part of one of the most striking campaigns trending on Tumblr this year

Social media has brought about real cultural, political and social change. Where does Tumblr fit into that?

The thing I get most excited about in how social media is facilitating change and the role Tumblr is playing in it. There's no question these social tools have done a remarkable amount for organising large groups of people. We saw that with movements like Occupy Wall Street, Ferguson, and the Arab Spring - world-changing movements that have been organised entirely through social media and perhaps could not have been organised at this scale without social media.

What really delighted and surprised us is that these movements were being organised through real-time social platforms like Facebook and Twitter. But the conversation, the narrative, the storytelling really developed on Tumblr.

Tumblr is perhaps not the spot that people go to see where the marches or rallies are going to be happening in their city, or what's going on right this second, or what the government or police are doing to respond to something. What is really coming to life on Tumblr is the conversation around where these movements go. What happens after the people have been heard, after these causes build up real momentum and they have the opportunity to change things.

So you're saying people take stock on Tumblr in the aftermath of major news events?

They absolutely do. It's the place that's able to take these issues from a moment of action to a real conversation, a real dialogue about what comes next. This is something that we saw in a really big way with "net neutrality", which is a really obtuse issue, that frankly most of the people that it really affects didn't really understand. [Eds note: here's a great explainer about it from BBC technology reporter Jane Wakefield]

Tumblr ended up being a place where that narrative was able to unfold in such an expressive, accessible way that we were able to drive 130,000 calls to US Congress. Millions of emails were sent. Millions of people participated in this movement.

The disappearance of 43 students in Mexico - whose portraits were posted on a Tumblr page - and shoplifters showcasing their exploits, are among the Tumblr-related stories we've covered on BBC Trending. What are the challenges of regulating content on the site?

This is a challenge for all of these platforms. I think the hardest thing is holding true to your convictions and not compromising the whole network when something turns up that turns your stomach. This is why we've worked so hard over years to get those policies just right. Something I'm really proud of is that we've stuck to those same principles of free expression while still working really hard to protect children on our network to make sure that Tumblr doesn't end up being a pernicious, intensely negative place.

Reporting by Anne-Marie Tomchak

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


What is it like to be a blind film critic?

Film critic, radio traffic announcer and popular Instagrammer - Tommy Edison delights in doing things you wouldn't expect a blind person to do.

Blind since birth, Edison set up a YouTube channel to review films from a blind person's perspective. The comments section was quickly filled with sighted people fascinated about what it's like to be blind. Edison then launched a second channel to answer questions like "can blind people draw?" and "how do blind people dream?"

BBC Trending speaks to him about how he got started.

Video journalist: Neil Meads

Want more? Watch our profiles of the stars of social media on BBC Trending's YouTube channel.

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending. All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


What makes a video go viral?

Of all the millions of videos posted online each day - of cats and kids, sports and war, mundane moments and earth-shattering events - how do some clips rise above the fray?

In other words: what makes a video go viral?

BBC Trending talked to social news luminaries from Gawker, BuzzFeed and Mashable to find out what elements are more likely to make a video trend.

And if you're interested in virality and the new world of news, the BBC Radio 4 documentary 23 Amazing Reasons This Radio Programme Will Change Your Life, presented by Trending's Mukul Devichand, is a must-listen. If you like it, share it with your friends. (But then again, we would say that, wouldn't we?)

Video Journalist: Alvaro Alvarez

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


About BBC Trending

The BBC bureau on the internet. Reporting on what's being shared and asking why it matters. Listen to our radio programme on BBC World Service. Watch our YouTube channel. @BBCtrending on Twitter.

Tweets

Subscribe to our podcast

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.