RSS feed
Trending blog
3 March 2015 Last updated at 10:18

Native names break Facebook rules

Dana Lone Hill Dana Lone Hill had trouble using her real name on Facebook

When Lance Browneyes of the Oglala Lakota community in South Dakota was blocked from Facebook for using a "fake" name, he submitted proof of his identification. Facebook then changed his name to Lance Brown.

On Facebook. he called for others who had received similar treatment to come forward, and said he was planning on filing a lawsuit.

Facebook, who declined to comment on the specifics of Browneyes story, has since updated his name.

Others have found their own workarounds.

"I had to send a photo of my passport before I was able to use my name," a woman named Robin Kills The Enemy wrote on Browneyes' post. "Then it got changed again because someone reported it as violent. I was then asked to changed my name to my 'real last name' again. They wouldn't accept my real last name so I had to hyphenate it."

She now goes by Robin Kills-TheEnemy on Facebook.

Users signing onto Facebook for the first time may be blocked if the name doesn't meet Facebook's internal guidelines, which prohibit "words, phrases or nicknames in place of a middle name". Users can also report accounts they suspect to be fake.

Many say the policy is discriminatory.

Facebook saying name not allowed

"This is an interesting and sensitive problem, seeing as names are so closely tied to identity among all peoples," said David C Posthumus, assistant professor of Native American Studies at the University of South Dakota.

"This is especially true of Native names: the more traditional or Native-sounding names are powerful identity markers on and off reservations. They are living links to the past. ... But a legitimate name with an honourable history like Slow Bear or High Elk doesn't fit the almighty Facebook's standards or definitions of what a name should be?"

A petition with almost 17,000 signatures is calling for Facebook to "allow Native Americans to use their Native names on their profiles."

At the same time, blogger Dana Lone Hill's post on Facebook investigating her name has been shared on Facebook itself more than 6,000 times.

Mike Raccoon Eyes Kinney Mike Raccoon Eyes Kinney posted a video to YouTube after his Facebook account was deactivated

"I had a little bit of paranoia at first … until I realised I wasn't the only Native American this happened to," wrote Lone Hill.

"A few were forced to either smash the two-word last names together or omit one of the two words in the last name."

She points out that Left Shark from Katy Perry's Super Bowl halftime show has a Facebook page, yet "we have to prove who we are?"

As part of their policy towards accountability and transparency, Facebook has long taken a stand against pseudonyms. It's a policy that has been criticised in the past by those who want to use different names for the sake of privacy, art or self-expression. But banning real names because they sound fake is a new wrinkle.

In a statement to the BBC, Facebook said:

"We are committed to ensuring that all members of the Facebook community can use the names that they use in real life. Having people use their authentic names makes them more accountable, and also helps us root out accounts created for malicious purposes, like harassment, fraud, impersonation and hate speech."

The statement went on to say there has been an effort to improve the process and that the effort will continue.

Indigenous names, translated to English and taken as a proper name, are not novel or new, says Brian Thom, assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Victoria.

"There is a whole complicated history of reclaiming languages and cultures from the legacies of colonial power which worked so hard to assimilate indigenous peoples," said Thom. "It would be a shame if tech companies - which are often very socially forward - were to replay the old colonial tropes by not accepting these revitalised indigenous name-forms."

On Facebook, Browneyes said that he hopes Native Americans will stand up to enforce change.

"They had no issue with me changing my name to a white man's name, but harassed me and others, forcing us to prove our identity," wrote Browneyes. "Our people need to know they can fight back."

Reporting by Micah Luxen

Next story:Millions share new Chinese character

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending, and find us on Facebook. All our stories are at

The Sikh boy labelled a 'terrorist' by his classmates

A Sikh boy is taunted by a classmate

In an act of defiance against his bullies, a Sikh schoolboy filmed himself facing racist abuse on a school bus in Georgia. The footage has been viewed almost half a million times, and sparked a conversation about bullying in school.

In the film the boy points the camera at his face, while one of his female classmates can be seen behind him shouting "terrorist, terrorist", and pointing an accusatory finger. The boy is wearing a patka, the traditional headdress of Sikh boys. "Kids being racist to me," he explains to the camera. "Quit filming us" the girl says, but the boy refuses. "I can't if you're being racist to me," he replies, before swearing at her and shouting in exasperation "who cares? I don't care".

He reportedly uploaded the footage himself, although the original video has now been set to private. Other YouTubers copied and re-uploaded the film, however, and a string of duplicates have been viewed almost 500,000 times. Below the video is a typically polarised YouTube comment thread. Some expressed sympathy, writing "I love that kid's courage". Many were confused that the girl would accuse a Sikh of being a terrorist, a stereotype not usually associated with the religion: "This kid is not a muslim." The thread is peppered with racism, as well.

The conversation appeared a little more enlightened over on Reddit, where the video has received more than 3,500 upvotes. "Why hello, middle school. I had almost forgotten your warm demeanour," wrote one, which seemed to prompt others to share their experiences of being bullied when they were at school. "What made me sad is that he's putting on a very brave face and saying that he doesn't care, but inside his heart and spirit are dying a little bit... Source: I was the fat kid with a similar brave face," one said. Many said they regretted following advice not to respond to bullies in school, and wish they'd taken more direct action. "I would have rather stood up for myself even if it meant I also got in trouble," said one comment, itself triggering a heated debate.

According to reports the boy attends a school in Georgia, in the southern United States. It is not currently clear why he decided to make the video private.

Next story: A new word that 'broke the Chinese internet'

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending, and find us on Facebook. All our stories are at

Millions share new Chinese character

This Chinese character has taken China's internet by storm The character 'duang' has taken China's internet by storm

A new word is taking the internet by storm in China - but no one knows quite what it means.

The character "duang" is so new that it does not even exist in the Chinese dictionary. But it has already spread like wildfire online in China, appearing more than 8 million times on China's micro-blogging site Weibo, where it spawned a top-trending hashtag that drew 312,000 discussions among 15,000 users. On China's biggest online search engine Baidu, it has been looked up almost 600,000 times. It's been noticed in the West too, with Foreign Policy seeing it as a "break the internet" viral meme - like a certain Kim Kardashian image, or a certain multicoloured dress.

But what does it mean?

"Everyone's duang-ing and I still don't know what it means! Looks like it's back to school for me," said Weibo user Weileiweito.

Another user asked: "Have you duang-ed today? My mind is full of duang duang duang."

"To duang or not to duang, that is the question," wrote user BaiKut automan.

Actor Jackie Chan gestures as he stands on the set of his new movie 'Around the World in 80 Days' on 6 May, 2003 in Berlin, Germany

"Duang" seems to be an example of onomatopoeia, a word that phonetically imitates a sound. It all seems to have started with Hong Kong action star Jackie Chan, who in 2004 was featured in a shampoo commercial where he said famously defended his sleek, black hair using the rhythmical-sounding "duang". The word resurfaced again recently after Chan posted it on his Weibo page. Thousands of users then began to flood Chan's Weibo page with comments, coining the word in reference to his infamous shampoo appearance.

The word appears to have many different meanings, and there's no perfect translation, but you could use it as an adjective to give emphasis to the word that follows it. A kitten might be "duang cute", for example. Or you might be "very duang confused" by this blog.

For readers of Chinese characters, the Jackie Chan theme is also apparent from the quirky way in which the word is written: a combination of Chan's names written in Chinese.

Reporting by Heather Chen and Mukul Devichand

Next story: Talk to me: the students working to resolve the Ukraine crisis

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending, and find us on Facebook. All our stories are at

YouTube diplomacy and the Ukraine crisis

The violence and crisis in eastern Ukraine has deepened in recent weeks, despite ceasefires.

But where diplomacy has failed, students from both countries have stepped in. YouTube videos are being filmed and uploaded by students in both countries, exchanging frank views.

It's impossible to verify the authenticity of these videos, with accusations that both sides manipulate social media and create propaganda. But the number of videos uploaded has snowballed and many millions are tuning in.

Reporter: Mukul Devichand

Video journalists: Greg Brosnan and Dmytro Zotsenko

For more videos subscribe to BBC Trending's YouTube channel.

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending. All our stories are at

Anger over new powers for Turkish authorities online

Protesters shout slogans and gesture during a protest against Turkish government's newly proposed restrictions on the use of internet, on Istiklal avenue in Istanbul, on February 8, 2014 Restricted access to the internet in Turkey saw widespread demonstrations in Istanbul last year

Last year Turkey entered the headlines for briefly blocking Twitter and YouTube. Now, with both unblocked, activists are using them to highlight a new set of concerns about internet freedom.

Scan the world's most popular Twitter hashtags, and the chances are some of them will be in Turkish. Many of them will also have a political bent: social media is heavily used by all sides of the spectrum in Turkey to push their side of the argument.

So it's not surprising that any attempt to regulate the internet attracts anger in Turkey. Several of the top hashtags in recent weeks have been attacking the government for precisely this. A bill that has been passed by the parliament and that is set to come into force will give Turkish government ministers the power to order that any web material deemed to be a threat to national security or public health, or liable to cause public disorder or crime, be taken offline or blocked within four hours. If they don't comply content providers risk a hefty fine or prison.

Many of those who participated in the Gezi Park protests in 2013 - largely organised on social media - are not happy. They don't buy the government's defence of the law, which is that courts need to approve any actions within 72 hours, and say Turkey's track record makes them weary. Twitter's recent Transparency Report disclosed that 90% of all the tweets taken down were in response to requests from the Turkish government (the US made the most requests for account information, mainly in relation to criminal investigations).

Turkey has a long-standing history of media control, and is currently ranked 154th out of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index. Philip Bennett, Director of the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy says Turkey is becoming "the poster child for illiberal democracies expanding their assault on a free press". He sees it as part of an evolving 21st Century model of government censorship - where social media is no longer the unstoppable, global force for free speech it was once hailed to be. "Whereas once governments were playing catch-up with internet technologies, now advocates of the free flow of information are playing catch up with government efforts to suppress it," he says.

So why are the Turkish authorities keen to regulate social media? Campaigners are adamant it's all about the General Election in June, and that President Erdogan is targeting a big enough win to allow him to change the constitution. Yasin Aktay, Deputy Chairman of the ruling Justice and Development Party (the AK Party), strenuously denies this: "The opposition is very strong, there are thousands of websites which act against the government… this is accepted and welcome," he told BBC Trending.

And the law will not necessarily be applied to political opponents: in fact there is another potential player in Turkey's social media wars.

The ruling AK Party is embroiled in a messy struggle with a secretive Islamic social movement called the Gulenists or Hizmet, "the service". Hizmet are widely believed to have members in senior positions throughout the state and many believe - although it remains unproven - that Gulenists are behind a series of sensitive leaks spread through Twitter and Facebook. Early last year an audio recording posted on You Tube appeared to show top officials discussing a false flag attack inside Syria; another recording appeared to reveal President Erdogan and his son Bilal talking about how to hide large sums of money; and the details of several police and judicial operations have been posted online before they have taken place.

Dr Zeynep Tufekci, an expert in social media at North Carolina University, told BBC Trending: "They were allies, they were close allies, and these were their joint missives. Any government would be worried. Imagine if you had scientologists in the cabinet leaking information. If that happened in the US, can you imagine? They'd go nuts. It's a very legitimate concern". Hizmet deny any involvement in the leaks.

So what impact will the bill have? Erkan Saka, a communication specialist at Bilgi University, say it will reduce the strength of opposition voices. "You will see more anonymity which will mean comments have less weight. You see already that those in prominent positions, actors, actresses, and so on, are stopping political messages or making them more pro-AKP, otherwise they won't get work".

In defence of the new legislation, the government points to the need to protect the privacy and safety of citizens, and says the Turkish internet laws are no stricter than those in the US or Europe. Yasin Aktay says public protests organised on social media have led to deaths: "In the 90's people were asking for more freedom… if you go to the same cities now people are asking for security, they say we have too much freedom now".

Blog by Jo Mathys

Next story: Why everyone is asking 'what colour is this dress?'

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending, and find us on Facebook. All our stories are at

Egyptian 'icon' trending no more

Alaa's page on twitter

Is the demise of a long-running Egyptian hashtag a sign that public support for the 2011 revolution is waning?

Here at BBC Trending, we usually write about social media trends, or hashtags that are climbing in numbers. This week, when Alaa Abdel Fattah, an activist described as one of the "icons" of the Egyptian revolution in 2011 was sentenced to 5 years behind bars, we expected #FreeAlaa to trend again on Twitter. After all, the @Alaa account has 700,000 followers and the #FreeAlaa tag has surged in popularity whenever he's been in trouble with the authorities before. It was used 30,000 times in the last year (and his name was tweeted 120,000 times).

But this time, it simply didn't take off. Why?

His story in brief: Alaa Abdel Fattah is a blogger and software engineer who was well known - before the 2011 revolution and after - for his bad language and public criticism of religious and military alike. Alaa and his wife Manal (also a blogger) became a revolutionary "power couple" on social media after Egypt's 2011 uprising. His actions have led to charges and imprisonment several times since 2006, under the various governments that have been in since the Arab Spring, and the #FreeAlaa tag trended each time.

Earlier this week, Alaa was convicted of organising a demonstration in 2013 in front of the Shura council (Egypt's upper legislative house) where a group of young Egyptians were protesting against the government's right to try civilians in secret military courts. Protesting without permission has recently been made a criminal offence in Egypt, and he was fined and sentenced to 5 years in prison. The hashtag #FreeAlaa made a modest appearance on social media, used a few thousand times, but didn't really spread outside circles of activists.

The millions of ordinary Egyptians who have been expressing support for protestors on social media for the past several years seemed to be largely indifferent.

The protest outside the Shura council led to 24 others also being charged and sentenced, but their names were not widely shared on social media either. A hashtag about the entire case was also created by activists, but was only shared a few hundred times.

Facebook: Free Alaa drawing from Free Alaa page on facebook

Lack of sympathy

"There is a lack of sympathy in Egypt these days," Nervana Mahmoud, a pro-revolution Egyptian doctor and blogger, told BBC Trending. "Five years ago this would have been a huge event and the reaction would have been very different." She says that after the recent beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians in Libya and militant attacks on Egyptian soil too, Egyptians have become indifferent to arrests of activists by the authorities. "Egyptians don't care anymore, people have lost faith in the revolutionaries, they started to despair of them. Nothing they do will make a difference," she says.

Then there is the way Alaa Abdel Fattah himself conducts himself online. His vocal criticism of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who came in after popular protests against the Muslim Brotherhood, and the harsh language he uses, have cost him many people's sympathy. "For some people he has simply gone too far," Aya Abdallah, social media manager at Al-Masry Al Youm news website, says. Some former supporters of Alaa are now saying that he deserves the verdict, according to comments she has seen. People are expressing that sentiment online: "Every time I start to sympathise with Alaa someone retweets an old tweet of his, and I say he deserves this because he's stupid," one Egyptian man tweeted.

Support for public protestors has not completely disappeared on Egyptian social media. As BBC Trending reported last month, 130,000 people posted messages about Shaimaa el Sabagh's death - she was shot dead in clashes during a march to commemorate the 4th anniversary of the 2011 revolution. "Shaimaa's story was big because she was killed. And the images were strong," says Nervana Mahmoud.

Popular protests against the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013, and support for the military, have also helped change the atmosphere on social media. For each hashtag supporting a pro-revolution protestor, there is often now a pro-government campaign designed to counter it. Kamal Sedra, a digital media consultant and former director of a human rights organization in Egypt, told BBC Trending that this often results in personal criticism, and he says he is growing weary of the online abuse he receives now when he posts about the revolutionary youth. "People have lost faith in the positive change the revolution is able to accomplish realistically".

"The young people who ignited the revolution are either behind bars, killed, banned from travelling or scared of what could happen," he says.

The long-running Egyptian hashtag "The revolution continues" is being kept alive, with 47,000 tweets in the last month, but half of these come from other Arab Spring countries and many come from a relatively small circle of committed social media activists. The wider public don't seem as inspired. "These people may hope that the revolution didn't end but the reality is the revolution has lost the public's support," says Sedra.

In fact, Egyptian social media was buzzing with outrage this week - but not about the imprisonment of activists. A graphic video showing a dog chained to a lamppost while being violently attacked by a group of men in Pyramids street in Cairo was widely shared. An Arabic hashtag that translates to "Pyramids street dog" led to over 25,000 messages to protest the brutal killing of the dog. The Egyptian authorities responded to the public outcry and arrested 3 men suspected of torturing and killing the dog.

Blog by Mai Noman

Next story: Why thousands are standing behind one Muslim lawyer

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending, and find us on Facebook. All our stories are at

Nimoy remembered in tweets, tributes

Picture of actor Leonard Nimoy Leonard Nimoy, Spock actor, dies at 83.

Fans, shocked and saddened by the death of Leonard Nimoy, took to social media on Friday to post tributes to the Star Trek actor and multi-talented artist.

Nimoy's last tweet, "A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP" was published by the 83-year-old actor in the early hours of Monday morning.

The philosophic tweet was retweeted almost 100,000 times and favourited 55,000 times. It became the inspiration for a hashtag #LLAP - for the character Spock's catchphrase, "live long and prosper."

Following news of his death on Friday morning, #LLAP was used by over 38,000 people in the space of only a few hours.

Nasa was quick to posted a tweet that was retweeted almost 10,000 times: "RIP Leonard Nimoy. So many of us at NASA were inspired by Star Trek. Boldly go..."

Bobak Ferdowsi, who famously sported a mohawk hairstyle for the Curisoirty Mars landing, wrote: "Thanks, Leonard Nimoy, for inspiring so many of us to pursue a better future. #LLAP ."

Nimoy's costar in the Star Trek series, William Shatner, issued a remembrance on Twitter.

shatner tweet

Fans also tweeted out their admiration.

"RIP @TheRealNimoy my childhood and adulthood was so much richer with your work. #LLAP," posted @MrKatieCompton.

"God speed to a true master of understatement, eyebrow acting guru and my ear hero. He lived long and prospered. One to beam up. #LLAP," tweeted screenwriter, and one half of comic duo Larry and George, Laurence Richard.

Tributes on Twitter with photos of the iconic Spock hand gesture were also popular: @SteveStreza posted a photo with the words: "I could never quite do the hand thing. #LLAP" while another, @FoFacy, sent a picture of just their hand saluting the actor with the words: "Good journey, sir. #LLAP"

In addition to acting, Mr Nimoy directed films, published poetry, autobiographies and books of photography and recorded music.

Many also took the chance to post links to his lesser-known work and fan sites which covered a wide range of the actor's endeavours: "In case you didn't know this, @TheRealNimoy was a hell of a photographer," wrote ‏@cindyreddeer, who included a link to some of his photo projects.

The Star Trek actor died of end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease according to his son, Adam.

Blog by Olivia Crellin

Next story: A 'racist' vest and THAT dress: #BBCtrending's weekly round-up

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending, and find us on Facebook. All our stories are at

A 'racist' vest and THAT dress: #BBCtrending's weekly round-up

An Egyptian Christian Anne Alfred

The team brings you the inside stories of some of the week's biggest social media trends.

On the BBC Trending blog:

The Indonesians collecting coins for Tony Abbott

Why thousands are standing behind one Muslim lawyer who tweeted a 'racist' vest

In Spain people are turning against a domestic violence football chant

The Indian boy beaten for posing with a group of girls

And we couldn't leave you without mentioning THAT dress

And watch this:

Hate, anger and grief were all part of the reaction in Egypt to the news of mass beheadings of 21 Christian Egyptians in Libya last week. But one Christian Egyptian chose to share a different message, one of forgiveness and peace.

Watch more videos on our YouTube channel or follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending. All our stories are at

The 'What colour is this dress?' meme

A dress

The "what colour is this dress?" meme is both a strange illustration of the way our brains work, and a classic case of how it is big media organisations - rather than just ordinary people - that often make things go viral.

Seriously, what colour is this dress? Some see white and gold, others blue and black and others something else. Tens of millions of people have now shared their opinion online, generating one of the biggest social media conversations in recent memory.

The core scientific question is: why do people see the dress in different colours? Beau Lotto, a professor of neuroscience at University College London, says: "The brain has evolved not to see absolutes, but to see the difference between things." Because colours that appear in sunlight look different from those that appear under streetlights, for example, our brains have to focus on the relationship between colours, not the colours themselves. Lotto says we can "only speculate" about why some people see blue where others see white. It could be because some are focusing on the difference between the colours of the dress itself, some are looking at the difference between the dress and the background, and others are taking the colour of their computer monitor, and the room around it into account.

That's some of the the science, but it doesn't quite answer why the picture went viral at such a terrific speed. That story began just before a wedding held last weekend in the Hebrides, a group of islands just off Scotland, when the mother of the bride sent a picture to her daughter asking what she thought of the dress. The bride and groom both looked at the picture and each saw the image differently. They posted the image to Facebook, asking their friends to help settle the argument. One of them, Caitlin McNeill - also part of the wedding band - reposted the image to her Tumblr blog at around 20:00 on Thursday. "Guys please help me - is this dress white and gold, or blue and black? Me and my friends can't agree," she wrote. The post saw a flurry of activity, but she couldn't have predicted the scale of the ensuing debate.

Around three hours later someone at Buzzfeed picked up on the blog, reposting the picture and a snippet of the conversation, along with a poll asking readers what colours they saw. The article set the internet alight, and has now been viewed more than 24 million times.

A graph showing the popularity of the conversation

By monitoring the use of the phrase "white and gold" on Twitter, it's possible to get a rough idea of how the conversation developed. This graph shows the discussion picking up very slowly when the Tumblr blog was published at around 20:00. It wasn't until the Buzzfeed article was published just after 23:00 that use of the phrase exploded. At around 01:00, an associated hashtag - #thedress - emerged, and has maintained a consistent presence ever since.

So is this a story of social media empowering the individual, giving ordinary people access to a global audience? Not quite. Really, it was old-fashioned media competition that drove the viral trend. The dramatic spike in conversation took place only in the wake of the Buzzfeed article. Its popularity on that site prompted a string of copycat articles on the news sites belonging to more established brands, as media outlets bid to exploit the huge spike in web traffic. The dress is a classical optical illusion, and that's why people love it. But it was big brand publishers getting in on the act and writing about it - kind of like the blog post that you've just read - that made it go viral.

More about the viral web: Listen to our documentary 23 Amazing Reasons This radio Programme Will Change Your Life

Next story: Call for a 'heterosexual pride' day mocked in Brazil

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending, and find us on Facebook. All our stories are at

Call for a 'heterosexual pride' day mocked in Brazil

A man addressing the camera. The word 'Heterofobia' appears on the screen. In the video a gay man jokingly speaks out against 'heterophobia'

When a senior Brazilian politician said there should be a "heterosexual pride" day, many in the country took offence. Now a video parodying the idea is proving popular on YouTube.

If you're straight, and live in Brazil, you may want to keep 3 December free. That's the day Eduardo Cunha wants to turn into an annual celebration of heterosexuality. He's the president of Brazil's Chamber of Deputies - the lower house of the nation's parliament - and a controversial figure in Brazilian politics. He first proposed the idea forward in 2011 to no avail, but earlier this month he asked the government to consider it again.

Now a group of YouTubers - taking Cunha's suggestion with a pinch of salt - have run with the idea, producing a film listing fictional problems faced by straight people, and reiterating the politician's call for action. It's been a hit, racking up more than 110,000 views in just a few days. In one scene we see the silhouette of a man whose voice is heavily distorted to protect his identity. "I've suffered prejudice for being heterosexual, and just yesterday I was taken prisoner," he says. "I think the police were discriminating against me." In another, a campaigner tells us "A straight pride day will ensure the heterosexual minority have the same rights already granted to gays".

Pedro Henrique Mendes Castilho, head of the group Põe Na Roda which made the film, spoke to BBC Trending and said the whole aim was to send up Cunha's views. "There's no reason for straight people to have their own day," he says. "They have all the rights, they are not a minority group. I made the video in an ironic way to criticise [Cunha]."

The silhouette of a man A spoof 'anonymous' figure describes the perils of heterosexuality

The film has prompted a heated debate. Many of those commenting found it amusing, "Perfect!" wrote one, and "very funny, as always," said another. But several less sympathetic views appear in the thread. "Gays... want to overrule the rights of others," one said.

Cunha's remarks are seen by his supporters as a way to preserve tradition in a rapidly changing country. But he also has a reputation as a controversial character with a penchant for inflammatory remarks. An opinion piece in the Folha de Sao Paulo says he has long referred to homosexuals as "heterophobes". And on Twitter he warns Evangelical Christians to defend themselves against attacks from gay people and pro-abortion advocates.

The politics of sexual identity are particularly complex in Brazil. On the one hand, the public health system provides sex-change operations, while on the other, abortion remains illegal. And in government, outspoken politicians like Cunha exist alongside more progressive voices.

Blog by Sam Judah

Next story: Beaten for posing with 'Hindu girls'

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending, and find us on Facebook. All our stories are at

Falklands banknote leaves Argentines underwhelmed

50 pesos bank note

A new banknote declaring Argentina's "sovereign love" for the Falkland islands received a frosty reception on the Argentine internet.

Britain maintains that it has sovereignty over the Falklands but Argentina also lays claim to the islands, which it calls Las Malvinas. Next week in Argentina, a new 50-peso ($5.74) banknote featuring the islands as part of Argentinean territory is set to come into circulation. In the words of the country's central bank governor Alejandro Vanoli, the idea is to remind people of "the undying claim of the people of Argentina over the Malvinas Islands" through the everyday use of money. The new bank note bears the slogan "Malvinas Islands, a sovereign love".

The islands have long been a nationalist rallying cry for Argentinians. But that's not quite how Argentines using social media seemed to feel this time. There was much discussion on Facebook and Twitter and 23,000 people sent tweets referring to Malvinas or Malvinas Islands. Most of them were more worried about inflation levels than reclaiming the islands, and were upset about the new note for that reason. "A 50 peso note in tribute to Malvinas, what is missing is a 500 peso tribute to the inflation," wrote user Ale Aguirre. A minority went even further: "the Malvinas are not from Argentina, to have them on a bank note is like having something English. Sorry about that patriots", wrote user Gato Floro. Another commented: "We lost the Malvinas on a war that this government doesn't condemn. I don't understand their policy or this bank note".

BBC Mundo's reporter in Buenos Aires Veronica Smink says the negative reaction to the note was mostly to do with its value, rather than people's feelings about the disputed islands. Many felt the Government should have issued a 500-peso ($57) note instead. Argentina has one of the highest inflation rates in the world, estimated by independent experts to stand at over 35% in 2014, double the official figure. Currently the highest value banknote in Argentina is 100-peso ($11.50) .

The new banknote was noticed in the Falkland islands too. People there voted to remain a British overseas territory in 2013. On Twitter, they used the economic crisis in Argentina to mock the bank note.

A @falklands_utd tweet

Was the introduction of the banknote intended to divert attention from the current criticism of Argentina's government, after a prominent prosecutor was found dead? Many made that claim online but in fact, the decision to introduce the new note was announced a year ago, Economist Abraham Gak from the University of Buenos Aires told BBC Trending. The surge of online criticism is "not about a 50 peso bank note nor about Malvinas," he says, rather it is "about opposition to the government".

Blog by Gabriela Torres

Next story: The Indian Muslim student beaten for posing with his female classmates

Or maybe you'd like to read: Spaniards turn against domestic violence football chant

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending. All our stories are at

What's the key to #MakeASongBritish?

Jay Z

Musically, Bob Marley, Carly Rae Jepson and Jay Z might not have a lot in common.

But lyrically, they've all become a bit more British.

They are just three of the artists whose greatest hits are being parodied by Twitter users inspired by the #MakeASongBritish prompt, started by Comedy Central's popular @midnight show.

So what exactly makes a song British? Well, it depends who you ask.

Some of the most-favourited tweets hone in on the particularly British habit of speaking in a roundabout, polite manner.

Twitter user @thismademecool turned lyrics from Jay Z's 99 Problems into: "I've got 99 problems, but don't worry about me. How are you? How are the kids? The weathers rubbish isn't it?"

And @Moorigoon translated the chourus from Jepson's 2012 hit Call Me Maybe into: "We've just become acquainted, and this is highly unusual, but here's my number, so ring me perhaps"

Other tweets focus on British slang, terminology and geography.

For instance, Marley sang "I shot the sheriff," but Twitter user @rougesandbrouges goes a different way: "I shot the constable (but I did not shoot the community support officer)"

And the Proclaimers' I Would Walk 500 Miles is now "I would walk 804.67km & I would walk 804.67km more just to be the bloke who walked 1609.34kms to fall down at your door" at the hands of the number-crunching @FightGirlDesign.

And of course, plenty of Twitter users looked to the most quintessentially British of beverages.

"Hello, is it tea you're looking for?" tweeted @EvanEdinger.

"My tea brings all the boy to the garden" wrote @RollinMike1D.

"You've Got to Fight for your Right to have a Tea Party" adds @paul_lander.

Looking for more #MakeASongBritish humour? Our friends at Anglophenia have also collected their favourite examples of the trend. What are yours? Tweet @BBCTrending to let us know!

Blog by Brenna Cammeron

Next Story: Llama chase captivates Twitter

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending, and find us on Facebook. All our stories are at

Llama chase captivates Twitter

Llamas on the loose

There's nothing Twitter likes more than a live chase, even if the chase is decidedly... low-speed.

That was the case on Thursday, when two llamas escaped from a show-and-tell presentation at a retirement community in Sun City, Arizona. Local television station ABC15 used its helicopter - more often used for traffic reports and car chases - to film the action in real time.

In doing so, they unwittingly struck social media gold.

A Twitter audience watched with bated breath as the two llamas - a larger white llama and a smaller black llama - dodged traffic, ran through parking lots and evaded multiple attempts to lasso them into captivity.

According to social science software Spredfast, "Peak Llama" usage on Twitter was 3,084 tweets per minute. In the course of the afternoon, four of Twitter's top 10 Trending terms were llama related: #llamawatch, #teamllama, Sun City and White Llama.

It seemed that bored workers in the US found the llamas' short taste of freedom an inspiring break from the midday blues. For a glorious 30 minutes or so, it seemed like all of America - at least those on Twitter - were watching together.

"I am watching a police llama chase live on the internet. What a time to be alive," wrote technology writer Owen Williams

"This is like Thelma and Louise if Thelma got lassoed and put inside a truck and Louise was still running free and also was a llama," wrote The New Republic's Rebecca Traister.

Some commented on the athletic display.

"The white llama is a very smart runner. Knows the game inside and out and can make quick decisions. Any farm is lucky to have this guy," wrote the sport-oriented @FanSince09.

For others, the llama chase served as political allegory.

"A direct result of Obama's Llamnesty policy," wrote Jon Favreau, a former speechwriter for US President Barack Obama.

"I hope people don't judge all llamas for this, or rush to blame it on Isllamaism," said @MazMHussain.

Still others saw the great llama chase of 2015 as a statement on office culture.

"Humans sitting in offices watching llamas run around free in the sunshine. Somehow i feel like we lost," wrote @that_lucie_girl.

In the end, the llamas were captured - and everyone went back to work.

Blog by Brenna Cammeron

Next story: Beaten for posing with 'Hindu girls'

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending, and find us on Facebook. All our stories are at

Beaten for posing with 'Hindu girls'

A schoolboy lying across a five female classmates

What's wrong with this picture?

To many, it won't seem particularly risque. But the image is of young men and women mixing in a conservative part of southern India, and seems to have provoked a violent incident of "moral policing". It's also being taken as a sign of anti-Muslim violence by Hindu vigilante groups.

The image - of three Indian students posing with their female classmates - was first shared by friends on Whatsapp. A young man sprawls playfully across a group of women, while two other men appear in the background. So far, so seemingly innocent. But reports in the Indian press say that one of the boys was hunted down by a gang of locals in Mangalore, India, driven to an isolated location and badly beaten, before being driven back. According to one news site the victim of the attack is the one on the left, Mohammed Riyaz, a 20-year-old computer science student.

It appears he was beaten up after someone else saw the WhatsApp message. But why would anyone do that?

One reason appears to lie in the man's name. Riyaz and his male friends are Muslim, while the women in the picture are believed to be Hindu. The police have not yet identified the suspects, but the region is home to a number of Hindu vigilante groups. "After the photograph was circulated on social media sites, a vigilante group got other students from the college to identify the deviant youth and on learning that he was probably a Muslim, decided to attack him," Assistant Commissioner of Police Ravi Kumar told The Indian Express.

Another possible reason for the attack is the flirtatious nature of the photograph. The incident appears to be latest example of "moral policing" in the country, in which conservative Hindu groups take issue with perceived moral indiscretions, and take matters into their own hands. Public displays of affection seem to be deemed particularly offensive and, as we reported on Valentine's Day on this blog, Hindu groups said that this year they would confront unmarried couples in public and compel them to marry on the spot. In November last year, a cafe was vandalised when a TV report showed young couples kissing inside. BBC Trending reported on the series of "Kiss of Love" protests, in which young people staged public kissing events in acts of defiance.

According to the Indian Express newspaper, Riyaz's father has registered a complaint with the police, who have filed a case of abduction and attempt to murder. P.L. Dharma is a professor of political science at Mangalore University. Although he was shocked by the incident, he tells BBC Trending it was not unusual for the area, where religious conflict is commonplace. "Gandhi ought to make a come back," he says.

Blog by Sam Judah

Next story: Why thousands are standing behind one Muslim lawyer

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending, and find us on Facebook. All our stories are at

Anger with sexist football chant

Betis stadium

Tens of thousands of people have posted online messages of anger against Real Betis FC fans, because of a chant that seems to encourage domestic violence.

It was a humdrum game between Real Betis and Ponferradina, ending in a draw. But the fixture on 8 February was Real Betis' first after a district attorney decided to file charges against striker Ruben Castro for alleged domestic abuse.

The team has stood behind Castro, who has not admitted any guilt in the case. During the game, the following chant was heard from the stands: "Ruben Castro! Ruben Castro! It wasn't your fault. She is a prostitute, you did well".

The chant was captured in a YouTube video posted the next day and viewed over 40,000 times - though it has since been removed.

You might expect the next step to be action by the club, or by the Spanish Football Federation, which is on a mission to eradicate violence and intolerance at football matches. As BBC Trending has reported in the past, the federation currently has a "no tolerance" policy on violence, racism or discrimination.

But this time round, the club, federation and media remained mum on the issue. Two weeks later, after a second match with 'ultras' singing the same chant, it was social media that made it an issue. The term 'Betis' has been used over 30,000 times in the last couple of days on Twitter, with many furious about the incident.

A politician, Angeles Alvarez from the Socialist Party, also made a statement which was quoted by many online. "It is very sad to hear how Spain is talking about Betis thanks to a bunch of undesirables who damage the image of the club and its fans," tweeted journalist Alvaro Ladron.

Another user, Maria Jose, describes herself as a feminist and said the episode was "shameful".

Why did it take several weeks for these chants to become an issue? Professor Cecilia Castano, who teaches about gender equality at Complutense University of Madrid, told BBC Trending that despite several pieces of legislation to tackle domestic violence and discrimination, "Spanish society is not very clear about gender equality".

She said that in Spain, "football is the sport of gods" and a "stronghold of masculinity, where many men feel free to express their worst side". But this behaviour does not represent Spanish society as a whole.

"It shows the fight that we have at the moment between a deeply conservative society and another more equal vision," she said.

Both Real Betis FC, and groups representing the 'ultra' fans, have now apologised about the supporters' behaviour and promised to put measures in place to tackle it.

Today there has been a reaction to the criticism levelled at Betis with the hashtag #ElBetisSeRespeta (Respect the Betis) trending on Twitter. It's been driven by over 13,000 tweets from fans who want to make clear that the chants are not representative of the club. "This is not the real Betis," wrote user Francisco Arellano.

Blog by Gabriela Torres

Next story: US politician's Instagram feed under fire

Or maybe you'd like to watch: Why thousands are standing behind one Muslim lawyer

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending. All our stories are at

Pol's spending tracked via Instagram

Aaron Schock

As the first member of the US Congress born in the 1980s, Aaron Schock knows a thing or two about social media.

His 13.8k Instagram followers are treated to pictures of him parasailing in the Andes and hobnobbing with pop celebrities in addition to the more typical political fare like speaking to kids in the classroom and posing with volunteers.

But the images that initially earned the 33-year-old Illinois Congressman the attention of national media outlets like the New York Times - who praised his "popular Instagram persona" - are now landing Schock in hot water.

A new report from the Associated Press (AP) overlaid Instagram's geotargeted data against the Republican's flight records to pin the congressman for more than $40,000 (£28,500) of expenses taken to cover the cost of private flights.

Aaron Schock and Arianne Grande Schock posts shots of celebrities like Ariana Grande and Aerosmith's Steven Tyler

While that is within the rules of Congress to use office funds in this way, it wasn't in 2013, the year investigated by the AP. According to their report:

Lawmakers can use office funds for private flights as long as payments cover their share of the costs. But most of the flights Schock covered with office funds occurred before the House changed its rules in January 2013. The earlier rules prohibited lawmakers from using those accounts to pay for flights on private aircraft, allowing payments only for federally licensed charter and commercial flights.

The AP also found Schock, who already faces an ethics inquiry for another matter, requested more than $18,000 in mileage reimbursements since 2013 - among the highest in Congress. He also charged almost $2,000 to a Political Action Committee (Pac) to take his staff to a Katy Perry concert.

This isn't the first time Schock's spending habits raised eyebrows. Earlier this month, Schock made headlines for his lavishly decorated office. His designer drew inspiration from popular television show Downton Abbey.

Unlike the images of the red-walled, gold-trimmed interior space, the photos the AP used to compile the incriminating information about Schock are no longer available. In the tradition of "post now, delete later" that has come to define a generation of social media users, signs of his jet-setting habits appear to be scrubbed.

Schock did not respond to the BBC's request for comment. In an email to the AP, he wrote that he travels frequently "to stay connected with my constituents" and takes compliance with congressional funding rules seriously.

Blog by Brenna Cammeron

Next story: Thousands stand with Mariam

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending, and find us on Facebook. All our stories are at

Thousands stand with Mariam

A vest with an Australian flag and the slogan 'If you don't love it, leave' The slogan on the vest reads 'If you don't love it, leave'

Why are Australians rallying behind one Muslim lawyer? Because she has become the target of racist abuse online from far right groups and white supremacists around the world.

The story starts with a vest on sale at Woolworths. Last year, branches of the Australian retailer began selling a singlet carrying a controversial patriotic message. Underneath a picture of the Australian flag, the caption on the vest read "If you don't love it, leave".

The slogan could be read as a hostile message aimed at immigrant groups in the country, and that's how it was taken by Mariam Veiszadeh. She's a lawyer, and prominent advocate for the Muslim community in Australia. She tweeted a picture of the vest on sale in the shop, saying "I'm outraged that #WOOLWORTHS are allegedly selling these bigoted singlets at their Cairns stores". Her message of anger began to trend online, and the retailer quickly pulled the item in question.

But that wasn't the end of the story. In the months since, Veiszadeh has been subjected to online hate from extremists around the world. It began when the Australian Defence League, a far right group, shared her comments with its 5,000 Facebook fans. One of them - a 22-year-old woman - tracked Veiszadeh down on Facebook where she posted a stream of racist abuse. The incident was reported to the police, and last week the woman was charged with harassment by police in Queensland.

Then on Friday, a US-based white supremacist blog - with a significant following in Australia - stepped into the fray. The Daily Stormer published an article using abusive language about Veiszadeh, and containing a call to action. Here's an extract, edited to remove some offensive terms: "Gentlemen, I think we all know what needs to be done here. Get out your Twitter accounts - make as many as you can... We need to be as hurtful as possible when abusing her, and we need to offend her Moslem sensibilities too."

Right on cue, trolls began tweeting Veiszadeh messages of abuse - and in response she called on her followers to report the offending accounts to Twitter. She herself was one of the first to use the hashtag #IStandWithMariam.

Many of the accounts sending abusive messages now appear to have been been taken down. People in Australia have begun using the hashtag to post messages of goodwill. It has appeared more than 3,000 times in just over two days. "#IStandWithMariam because her gender, religion and politics are irrelevant. #IStandWithMariam because she is a good & decent Australian," wrote one, and "#IStandWithMariam against racism, bigotry, discrimination & Islamophobia. So does Australia," said another.

Blog by Sam Judah

Next story: Christian Mercy for Islamic State

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending, and find us on Facebook. All our stories are at

Christian Mercy for Islamic State

Hate, anger and grief were all part of the reaction in Egypt to the news of mass beheadings of 21 Christian Egyptians in Libya last week. But one Christian Egyptian chose to share a different message, one of forgiveness and peace.

A video by a young Christian woman calling for mercy instead of hate has been watched over half a million times. And messages of support and solidarity poured in from Egypt's Christians and Muslims alike.

BBC Trending spoke to Anne Alfred, a young Egyptian singer, about her video and how life has changed for her as an Egyptian.

Reporter: Mai Noman

Video journalist: Greg Brosnan

Next story: How Birdman director's speech shocked Mexico

Or maybe you'd like to watch: Coming out as gay at Chinese New Year

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending. All our stories are at

How Birdman director's speech shocked Mexico

 Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu

Lots has been written about diversity in the US film industry after last night's Oscars - but across the border in Mexico, the ceremony set off a very different political storm.

After his film Birdman won best picture last night, Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu took the stage. "I want to dedicate this award to my fellow Mexicans, the ones who live in Mexico," he said. "I pray that we can build the government that we deserve."

Amid the current political unrest in Mexico, his words sparked a pointed discussion online. Thousands tweeted the hashtag #ElGobiernoQueMerecemos which translates as "the government we deserve". Many took it as a message against President Enrique Peña Nieto. "Instead of just thinking about the government we deserve, what if we actually thought about how to create it?" asked journalist Katia D'Artigues.

Over the past few months Mexico has been polarised by the disappearance and alleged mass murder of 43 students from Ayotzinapa, and the President and First Lady have been involved in a scandal over a luxurious private mansion that the couple share. However, for his part, President Peña Nieto offered only congratulations to the director. "Talented Mexicans making history thanks to a life of sacrifices and dedication. Congratulations!" he wrote on his Twitter account.


Iñarritu's speech wasn't the only controversy involving Mexicans from Oscar night. Actor Sean Penn's "green card" joke when introducing the Mexican director was not well received online. "Great job Sean Penn. Ruining a fantastic moment with a green card 'joke'," wrote Mexican actor Mario Lopez.

Blog by Gabriela Torres

Next story: Lego Oscars, #AskHerMore, Meryl Streep

Or maybe you'd like to watch: Coming out as gay at Chinese New Year

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending. All our stories are at

Zuckerberg’s friend request to China

Mark Zuckerberg Zuckerberg posted a the message as a video on his Facebook profile

The Facebook CEO's Chinese New Year message in Mandarin got millions of views - but hardly any from inside China where Facebook remains blocked.

For Chinese new year Mark Zuckerberg posted a greeting in the Chinese language. The message has been viewed nearly 4 million times, and been shared more than 36,000 times since 19 February. But few are likely to have come from his intended audience - people inside China.

That's because Facebook has been banned in the country since 2009. It is believed the entrepreneur's efforts to learn Mandarin may be part of a plan to try to reverse that ban. A type of friend request to an entire country.

In October last year he stunned a room full of Beijing university students when he conducted a 30-minute question and answer session on the future of global technology in a near fluent Chinese.

Zuckerberg says he started learning Chinese to communicate better with his wife's family, and gain a better understanding of Chinese culture. But it's unclear if his soft skills will help solve Facebook's problems in China, at a time when it is becoming increasingly difficult for global technology companies to operate in the country.

In the last few weeks there is evidence that Chinese censors have strengthened its firewalls by restricting the use of virtual private networks (VPNs), software used by citizens to visit websites that would otherwise be blocked inside the country. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are permanently blocked in China. Their absence has led to the rapid growth in popularity of their Chinese equivalents which are heavily monitored by the authorities. Tech experts say the latest stifling of VPNs is part of China's efforts in adopting what is known as "cyber-sovereignty," a concept championed by the Chinese government, where countries attempt to regulate and censor all electronic information within their borders.

China has the largest internet population in the world, with an estimated 650 million users - large enough for China to exist in its own intranet type bubble. Some say that in the long term cyber-sovereignty is not designed to keep web giants like Facebook out but instead a way to ensure that when they ultimately begin operating in China, they adhere to the government's strict rules and censorship.

For now, Mark Zuckerberg's Mandarin skills have yet to be appreciated by Chinese net users. His new year message was retweeted only a few hand full of times on Weibo, China's Twitter like service.

Blog by Danny Vincent

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at

The Indonesians collecting coins for Tony Abbott

An Indonesian man pours coins from his hands as a 'donation' to Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott in Jakarta on 22 February. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is at the centre of the latest online spat with Indonesia

Why are people in Indonesia collecting coins for Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott?

Many Indonesians are seething with anger after Mr Abbott said they should remember the help his country gave after the 2004 tsunami, by sparing two Australian men on death row in Bali.

He said Australia would be "grievously let down" if the executions of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, sentenced to death in 2006 for leading a drug trafficking group dubbed the Bali Nine, went ahead.

The prime minister has since clarified that he was not expecting a return of the favour and was merely emphasising good bilateral ties, but this is being seen as another disastrous turn to the tussle over the executions. Last week, BBC Trending reported about the backlash in Indonesia after a social media campaign urged Australians to boycott the holiday destination of Bali.

This time around, Indonesians have responded to the Australian leader's comments by organising street drives to collect coins to "return" the A$1bn ($0.78bn: £0.5bn) given as aid after a tsunami left around 200,000 people dead or missing in Indonesia.

The campaign first emerged as a hashtag, #KoinUntukAustralia, or Coins for Australia, in Aceh, close to the epicentre of the 2004 earthquake and tsunami. On Twitter and Facebook, people upset with the comments posted pictures of small change to show that Australia could keep its money. The hashtag has now received more than 65,000 mentions in the last five days.

"Really bad attitude @TonyAbbottMHR take back your aid! We'll throw your coins back!," tweeted an Indonesian, while another said, "Drugs broke our generation! And you still use human rights pretext for death penalty for those who broke our generation?"

#KoinUntukAustralia tweet with picture of a 1000 rupiah coin
#CoinforAustralia tweet with picture of coins

"I think the remarks just show how the Australian government thinks it can dictate or tells other countries what to do after giving them aid. And if the aid is such a big deal for Abbott, he can have it back," says Mustaqim Adamrah, a Jakarta-based journalist who was among the first to tweet a picture of coins with the hashtag.

Now the message has gained pace offline as well. The Association of Indonesian Muslim University Students in Aceh and other local organisations are actually collecting coins for Abbott, according to reports. In the capital, a coalition of community groups called the Koalisi Pro Indonesia has staged a rally to protest against Abbott's remarks.

Several pages and groups have also been set up on Facebook - one of them is named 'Coin For Insincerity - Payback'.

In Australia, the reactions to the hashtag has been mixed. Some of them apologised for Abbott's comments, while others felt that the spotlight has moved away from the convicts on death row. "Dear Aceh, it is important that you understand that Abbott does not speak for all Australians. Aid money = no strings," read one tweet, while another said, "Immense sadness that Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran have become pawns in appalling international relations."

Blog by Samiha Nettikkara

Next story: Oscar night spurs online activity

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending.

All our stories are at

Push to end inane red carpet chat

Reese Witherspoon

The 2015 Oscars clocked in at just about three hours and 49 minutes, and before, during and after the programme, viewers turned to social media to comment on the action. Below, some of the night's most talked about moments.

It's long been said that "a bad dress leads to years of bad press," and one of the most common questions that female nominees are asked by the Oscar press is "who are you wearing?" - a reference to the designer behind their red-carpet look.

Other questions regularly revolve around cosmetics, beauty, and dieting. Earlier this month, a Buzzfeed post showed how celebrities responded to questions like "how do you balance career and personal life" and "what are you looking for in a man?"

But many say that line of questioning is too shallow, and tonight they used the hashtag #AskHerMore to send suggested questions to red carpet reporters.

Reese Witherspoon's instagram photo Reese Witherspoon posted this photo created by @obviweretheladies

Rebecca Schinsky, Director of Content at BookRiot, tweets "My kingdom for a red carpet 'What are you reading?'"

The hashtag is the work of a campaign started last year by The Representation Project, a group devoted to ending gender stereotyping in film. Amy Poehler's Smart Girls, an online community founded by the comedian to encourage discussion among young women, has pushed the hashtag forward in the run up to this year's Oscars.

Reese Witherspoon, who has been nominated for Best Actress for her role in Wild, helped to elevate the trend when she posted a photo featuring a montage of several suggested questions on Instagram.

"This is a movement that says we are more than our dresses," she said on the red carpet.

Oprah's Lego Oscar

Everything is Awesome dance crew Everything is Awesome is nominated for Best Song

Oprah Winfrey had hoped to pick up an Oscar for the film Selma, which she produced. Ultimately, her film lost to Alejandro González Iñárritu's Birdman, but she got to go home with one of the night's most coveted prizes - a statuette made of Lego.

The toys were distributed during a performance of "Everything is Awesome" from The Lego Movie, which was nominated for best song.

A still of Ms Winfrey grasping her yellow brick Oscar, feigning surprise as if she had won the real thing, made the rounds online after the performance. "Lego Oscar" was trending in the US.

The man behind the Lego Oscars, however, was not faking anything when tweeted, "So honored that I was asked to make the #LEGO #Oscars, and this is the cherry on top."

Nathan Sawaya, an artist who works with the plastic toy bricks, has been tweeting his reaction and even included a video showing the little yellow statues' creation.

Emma Stone was pictured with a Lego Oscar when her name was announced as a Best Supporting Actress nominee for her role in Birdman (Or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). She lost out to Patricia Arquette, who took home the award for her work as the mother in Boyhood.

Still, as comedian Shalyah Evans wrote, Stone "has a Lego Oscar, which I honestly would prefer."

Arquette wins, Streep reacts
Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lopez Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lopez, who are seated together at the ceremony, snapped a selfie

"We have fought for everybody else's equal rights. It's our time to have wage equality - once and for all. And equal rights for women in the United States of America," said Arquette in her acceptance speech.

People across Twitter relished in actresses Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lopez's reaction to the comments - the first political statement of the night. Ms Streep jumped from her chair repeatedly shouting "Yes!" in agreement.

Jarrett Wieselman, a senior editor at Buzzfeed, comically tweeted, "Life goals: Say something that makes Meryl Streep and J.Lo react like this".

And News Corp journalist Andrew Losowsky captured a popular sentiment when he wrote "That Meryl Streep moment will now be the go-to 'approval GIF' for the next year. #officialtwitternotices."

Not to miss out on the fun, Ms Streep and Ms Lopez issued a selfie soon after. While it didn't supplant Ellen Degeneres' historical Twitter-crashing tweet from last year, it kept the conversation going long after Ms Arquette left the stage.

Reporting by Paul Blake.

Coming out as gay at Chinese New Year

Fang Chao tells his mother he's gay in the PFLAG film Coming Home

How did a video about telling your parents you're gay at Chinese New Year become a viral hit in China?

New Year is a time for millions of Chinese families to come together to eat, celebrate and set off firecrackers. For many Chinese sons and daughters, it's also a time to endure a barrage of questions from parents demanding to know when they're ever going to meet someone and settle down (many have been there).

This spring festival there's a chance they may also be discussing homosexuality thanks to a film called Coming Home, about a man named Fang Chao, who goes home for New Year and tells his family he's gay.

Coming Home dinner table scene

As BBC Trending radio has been finding out, the film has racked up more than 100 million views on QQ, one of the biggest social media platforms in China. In the film Fang's parents disown him for two years after he tells them he wants to be with a man. At the end there are real clips from the mothers of gay men offering their advice, and leaving messages like: "Share the story of your life with your parents - they're willing to hear you out," and "Don't allow social convention and traditional views on marriage get in the way of your kid coming home."

Attitudes towards homosexuality in China are mixed and the comments reacting to the video reflect this. Some have been overwhelmingly supportive, others less so. "Some say gays and lesbians are OK and normal. What will you think if YOUR sons and daughters are?," one comment read. "Are they afraid to socialise with women? Can they differentiate fraternal relations from love?" another said.

Coming Home title credits with messages from real parents to LGBT people

One of those behind the video is Ah Qiang, who runs the Guangzhou branch of the not-for-profit organization PFLAG. It began in the US and campaigns for the social inclusion of all people based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.

Ah Qiang told BBC Trending his coming out story. "My mother died in 2006 and I never got the chance to tell her. [I'm] very sad about that," he says. Two years later he decided to tell his father and stepmother he was gay. He invited them over, explained why he had no girlfriend and why he did not come home for New Year. "At the end I said 'have you got any questions for me?' [My father] had just one. 'Who will look after you when you are old?'

"I said, 'I will have friends and I am saving for my old age'."

Coming Home telephone scene

Despite China's policy of internet censorship, Ah Qiang says social media has given people in China an outlet to discuss issues around homosexuality.

He told BBC Trending that QQ, the Chinese social media site that hosted the Coming Home video, initially said they couldn't put it on the front page because of its pro-gay message.

After a few days however, it had proved so popular it was moved to the site's front page.

To hear the full interview with Ah Qiang check out the BBC Trending podcast.

Blog by Gemma Newby and India Rakusen

Next story: Be careful who you swear at on the train

Or maybe you'd like to watch: Celebrities defend gay rights in Ghana

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending. All our stories are at

Men in miniskirts campaign for women's rights

Men in mini skirts campaign

How did men in miniskirts become a protest meme on social media?

Turkish men aren't known for wearing skirts. But it's expected they will turn out in large numbers in Istanbul later to protest about violence against women in Turkey.

Men in mini skirts campaign
Men in mini skirts campaign

They're joining others outraged by the murder of 20-year-old Ozgecan Aslan who was abducted on 11 February and killed for apparently trying to prevent a bus driver from raping her.

It's thought she tried to fend off her attacker with pepper spray but was stabbed and then hit on the head with a metal bar. Her body was discovered in a riverbed several days later.

Men in mini skirts campaign

As BBC Trending has been reporting all week, Aslan's murder has led to a huge outpouring of anger, not only on the streets but also online. More than 6 million people have tweeted her name and thousands have used social media to share their own stories of sexual abuse. Most of those seemed to be women. But it was in neighbouring Azerbaijan, where most people understand Turkish, that men's reaction first seemed to trend.

Azeri men in miniskirts are filling up the Twitter & Facebook timelines of people in Azerbaijan using the hashtag #ozgecanicinminietekgiy which roughly translates as "wear a miniskirt for Ozgecan".

The Twitter hashtag started on Wednesday. To date, about 1,500 people have used it, with roughly equal take up by men and women online (51% and 49% respectively.) Their rallying cry on Facebook states: "If a miniskirt is responsible for everything, if [wearing] a miniskirt means immorality and unchastity, if a woman who wears a miniskirt is sending an invitation about what will happen to her, then we are also sending an invitation!"

However not everyone is convinced the campaign is either necessary or a good idea. "What's to get? What inept action!" said one Azeri tweeter, Javidan Aghayev. He told BBC Trending he thought the campaign was "Düşük," which means stupid in Azeri slang. "Instead of supporting women in a real, practical way, wearing a skirt or a wig is not going to have any positive effect," he says. "In conservative civilizations like Turkey and Azerbaijan, this campaign is not going to help. Maybe in Europe, but not here."

But other men felt the Aslan case was so horrific that it provoked deep reflection. "Very big incidents must take place in order for people to understand that something is wrong in Turkey," says Cenkal Karakaya, a male tweeter in Turkey. "We can't see how deadly decayed buildings are until there is an earthquake. We can't see the need to create safe working conditions for a mine until tragedies like Soma happen. We become aware only after things happen to us".

If the point of this miniskirt campaign was to raise awareness and secure media coverage, then arguably it has worked. Most of the accounts tweeting images of the men in mini skirts were well-known news outlets such as Hurriyet.

The debate over the Aslan case has also been taken up by Azerbaijan's officials, who held a parliamentary debate about rape and domestic violence earlier this week, led by MP Elmira Akhundova.

Blog by Sitala Peek

Next story: The one about the Aborigine with a 'good personality'

Or maybe you'd like to watch: Celebrities defend gay rights in Ghana

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending. All our stories are at

Native American tribute or theft?

Two dresses Yellowtail says elements from her dress (left) were copied by KTZ (right)

Inspiration has not been in short supply at this year's New York Fashion Week. One item on the runway has caused a stir, however, after a designer claimed on Instagram that her dress had been copied by another designer.

Native American fashion designer Bethany Yellowtail posted a comparison of a dress she had released last year and a design shown this week by London-based KTZ.

"The dress as stated on my website embodies a Crow design from my great great grandmother...funny I didn't realize @ktz_official knew the Yellowtails or the Crow people," she writes.

"It's one thing for designers to be unoriginal and knock off other peoples designs but what happens when you blatantly take cultural valuable designs from Indigenous people? Let's find out....#CanANativeLive #boycott #KTZ #ktzofficial #boycottKTZ"

The post received hundreds of comments and kicked off a discussion online about cultural appropriation, especially after the popular blog Native Appropriations wrote about the controversy.

Yellowtail told the BBC that the hourglass motif is "deeply personal" and has been in her family since the late 1800s.

"It has served as the singular source of inspiration for my recent collection," she says. "What is more, my Native American community has a long history of outsiders misappropriating our traditional designs and lazily calling it 'inspired' fashion."

Her dress was worn by music artist Goapele to a Grammy awards brunch this year.

Lauren Chief Elk was one of the many activists who took to Twitter after Yellowtail made her accusations. She calls the social media platform "a great venue for accountability".

Beaded bag Yellowtail says her dress was inspired by this beaded bag, made by her grandmother

"If we were just relying on news coverage - all we'd see is Vogue saying this is wonderful and that would be it," she says.

Marjan Pejoski, the creative director behind the KTZ collection, positioned the line shown at Fashion week as a tribute to "the primal woman indigenous to this land".

But not everyone was convinced.

"If you are trying to 'pay tribute' to our culture, maybe you should INCLUDE and collaborate with real Indigenous people instead of blatant ripping someone off!" Instagram user Lalexotica writes on Yellowtail's Instagram feed.

Kelly Cutruone, KTZ's public relations representative, says the company draws inspiration from several sources.

"Marjan's work over the last 20 years has always been inspired by indigenous cultures and tribes - Cherokee, Apache, pagan witches, the Masai," Cutrone tells the BBC, speaking on the company's behalf.

"Even if there is a similarity, these images have existed for hundreds of years. I understand if she said that it is her design and she has worn it, but so did thousands of people for thousands of years."

She also rejects the idea that native looks belong to native designers. "Nobody is one race," she says. "You can get DNA tested and have backgrounds that you didn't even know about."

KTZ celebrates "beauty, truth and power behind indigenous things", she says, a notion that people should embrace.

But to Chief Elk, it's not a celebration.

"This is the fashion version of Select All-Copy-Paste and 'you should be grateful because I'm extending your work and honoring you'," she writes. "This is an extension of #HowWeDisappear, and being forcibly removed and erased from work and labor."

Blog by Olivia Crellin

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending.

All our stories are at

Indian 'bad girls' and Somali Instagrammers: #BBCtrending's weekly round-up

A woman taking a selfie on a beach

The team brings you the inside stories of some of the week's biggest social media trends.

On the BBC Trending blog:

10 Hours of Walking in Paris as a Jew

Meet the Turkish women sharing stories of sexual abuse on Twitter

How to be a 'bad girl' in India

If you're on your way to a job interview, be careful who you swear at on the train

2 Broke Girls, and the joke about the Aborigine with a 'good personality'

And the best Trending videos from the last seven days ...

What's your stereotype of the Somali capital Mogadishu? Whatever it is, chances are it's different from the view you get if you follow Ugaaso Abukar Boocow on Instagram. She has 42,000 followers, largely because of her irreverent take on Somali life.

Ghanaian celebrities have taken to social media to condemn the beating of a suspected gay man, opening a rare window for debate on homosexuality in a country where gay sex is illegal.

Watch more videos on our YouTube channel or follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending. All our stories are at

Ethiopia's imprisoned bloggers have not been forgotten

The Free Zone 9 Bloggers

In April 2014 BBC Trending covered the arrest of six bloggers and three journalists in Ethiopia. The bloggers are part of a group known as Zone 9, and are well known for campaigning around censorship and human rights issues in Ethiopia. Ten months on from their arrest, the hashtag #FreeZone9Bloggers continues to be used in the country as the trials continue.

That's not typical - campaigning hashtags often tail off over time. This one is being kept alive by activists both inside and out of Ethiopia who are challenging the government's decision. The total number of tweets is still only in the tens of thousands, but that is enough to be noticed on the global map (Twitter does not produce an official trending topics list for Ethiopia).

Why are they so focussed on social media? It certainly isn't the best way to reach the Ethiopian people: the internet is estimated to reach just over 1% of the population there. But it does allow them to network with the global blogging fraternity and the international media. Recently a blog began in support of the nine prisoners, and to report on the hearings. A campaign video has also been released in which complaints are raised over the conditions of Kalinto prison and Kality prison, where the bloggers are being held.

These complaints include torture, unlawful interrogation tactics and poor living conditions. The Ethiopian Embassy in London told BBC Trending that allegations of torture and unlawful interrogation tactics are unfounded, and that they have taken a series of measures "in collaboration with stakeholders, including civil society, to improve the conditions of prisons". They say the nine individuals are charged with "undermining the constitutional order, inciting violence and advocating the use of force to overthrow the legitimate government." They are also accused of working with an organisation proscribed by the Ethiopian Parliament as a terrorist organisation. However, activists in support of the group maintain that Zone 9's actions were constitutional.

Blog by India Rakusen

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending.

All our stories are at

The one about the Aborigine with a 'good personality'

Cast members from the CBS show 2 Broke Girls Cast members from the CBS show

Are minority groups ever fair game for jokes in TV sitcoms? The writers of US show 2 Broke Girls took a dig at Aboriginal women this week, but not everyone found it funny.

"I'm in a casual flirtation with a woman in Australia. She's part Aboriginal but has a great personality," said actor Matthew Moy, who plays the character Han Lee on the show, which aired in Australia on Tuesday.

There has been a strong backlash ever since on Australian social media, including seemingly from Aboriginals. "Way to go 2 Broke Girls - how to denigrate the First Nations People of Australia - as if we didn't have enough from White fellas as it was," wrote one user on the programme's Facebook page. Another said: "disgustingly racist comment about Aboriginal women. Not at all effin funny". One unhappy viewer thought the line was deemed permissible because of the specific target of the joke. "If it had been said about an African American it would never have made it to screen," they wrote. Others commented in a similar vein on Twitter.

In fact, the show has a history of including close to the bone gags about a host of minority groups. One widely cited example: "Sophie is the loudest person we know. Even black people at the movies tell Sophie to be quiet," was offered up by Caroline, played by Beth Behrs, in an earlier episode of the show. And it's the depiction of Moy's character - Han Lee - that has drawn most criticism in the past, for representing a jumble of Asian-American clichés: his broken English is a constant source of mirth on the show.

According to reports, back in 2012 one of the creators of the show, Michael Patrick King, addressed the charge of racism head on. "People pull away from something if it's not in good taste. More and more people are leaning in to 2 Broke Girls," he said. "I feel no need to pull away from the brand of 2 Broke Girls which is 'in-your-face girls'. Neither he nor the CBS network have yet commented on the latest controversy.

The debate seems to be escalating in Australia. Today former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd described the latest joke as "pathetic". "How low can you go for canned laughter? Programme should apologise," he tweeted.

Next story: Be careful who you swear at on the train

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending.

All our stories are at

Jobs for IS? Leaders say yes

Marie Harf

US State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf, has been ridiculed for her comments about fighting IS through employment - but diplomatic leaders make it clear that the statement was no gaffe.

Harf told MSNBC that when it comes to the so-called Islamic State (IS), the United States "cannot win this war by killing them" and that jobs and opportunity would dissuade people from joining the group - and thus prevent terrorism.

The notion was met with derision by conservatives, and has led to a flood of online memes. Everything from mock hashtags like #jobsforISIS to pictures of known terrorists like Nidal Hassan, the Fort Hood shooter, with captions like "had a good job, still committed jihad" to personal attacks against Harf herself, making jokes about her age, appearance and intellect.

Having become the story, Harf doubled down on her comments on CNN the following day.


"We cannot kill every terrorist around the world, nor should we try. How do you get at the root causes of this? It might be too nuanced an argument for some."

Of course this sent opponents into a second round of disapproval - giving life to a new word trending on Twitter: Harfing.

But what turned Harf into an internet sensation appears also be a talking point and a policy plan that defenders are not abandoning.

In an interview with the BBC on Wednesday, US Under Secretary of State of Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights Sarah Sewall reiterated the need for more than just military might to counter IS.

To regional players, it's not such an extraordinary idea either. Former Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher reiterated the danger of the economic threat in a discussion with a group of foreign policy reporters at the Carnegie Endowment Thursday morning. He says joblessness is a reason why people are turning to ISIS, not because they believe in the ideology. "When I talk to young people in Jordan, they don't feel they have hope for the future."


As the White House Counter Violence Extremism Summit carried on in Washington, representatives from over 60 countries discussed how to counter radical ideologies and stop terrorist networks from exploiting civilian grievances. In his speech, even President Obama emphasized the need to tackle economic frustrations.

The US State Department is not generally known to be a news-making machine. As the diplomatic arm of the US government, it's supposed to be synonymous with cool, calm, calculation.

On a normal day, getting anyone at the podium to even remotely veer from their talking points is a feat. Getting the attention of Americans outside of Washington, DC is almost impossible.

Whether inadvertent or not, Harf's comments turned out to be a highly publicised roll out of a bit of foreign policy.

Reporting by Suzanne Kianpour

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at

Be careful who you swear at on the train

Tweet by recruiter Matt Buckland

That moment when you walk into a job interview, and the person who greets you is someone you were very rude to earlier that day.

That's exactly what happened to one man in London earlier this week. It's been recounted blow by blow on Twitter by Matt Buckland, the recruiter. His description of the scenario has been retweeted almost 14,000 times. In the tweet, he describes it as "karma" that a guy who pushed past him on the Tube and swore at him "just arrived for his interview with me".

"I was on my way into work on the Tube on Monday morning during rush hour. I stood to one side to let a lady get by, and ended up blocking a man momentarily. He shoved past me, almost knocking me over, and shouted," Buckland told BBC Trending.

Despite a bad start, the day carried on as normal for Buckland, who is the head of talent and recruiting for Forward Partners, which funds early start-up businesses. He had an interview scheduled for 5:30pm. At 5:15pm the interviewee turned up. Lo and behold, it was the man who'd been so charming earlier.

Buckland stepped away briefly to tell his Twitter followers about it and went back into the interview room. At this point the interviewee still hadn't made the connection. "It was totally awkward," says Buckland. "So I approached it by asking him if he'd had a good commute that morning. We laughed it off and in a very British way I somehow ended up apologising."

By the time the interview had finished, the tweet had gone viral and people began sharing similar stories of their own online. It became a topic of discussion on Reddit, LinkedIn and Tumblr. A Facebook post of Buckland's tweet accompanied by the caption "Quick reminder: Nice continues to finish first" has been liked more than 400,000 times.

So did the applicant get the job? In a word, no. "As it worked out, he wasn't right for the role," says Buckland. "The job is still open." But he's quick to stress that the applicant's lack of success wasn't because of the rude encounter.

So would he have been legally entitled to take the scrape in the Tube into consideration? "He could have taken that into account if he'd wanted to," says Colm O'Cinneide, a reader in law at University College London (UCL). "Employers have wide discretion to take lots of things into consideration, so long as it doesn't breach anti-discrimination laws which prohibit judgements based on race, ethnicity and gender."

Some have questioned Buckland for making fun of the applicant on social media, a charge he denies, "I don't think it's public shaming as he hasn't been named. I've been in contact with him and he's fine about it," he said. "Although understandably, he doesn't want to do any interviews."

Blog by Anne-Marie Tomchak

Next story: How to be a 'bad girl' in India

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending.

All our stories are at

How to be a 'bad girl' in India

A satirical comic strip depicting what 'bad girls' get up to in India

If you want to be a 'bad girl' in India, we may have found the perfect guide for you.

Pout, have breasts, eat too much. And go to Goa. At least, that's the advice of a satirical poster that's being widely shared on Reddit, Twitter and Facebook. The image suggests India remains very much a man's world, and has triggered a slew of comments online.

Many took the message of the poster to be a feminist statement. "No idea of the origins of the #badgirls chart. But it does strike close to home for many. Sadly," read one tweet. On Facebook one commenter added arranged marriage to the list of injustices facing many women. "Marries a complete stranger. Wait, that defines a good girl!," the comment read. While others simply found it amusing. "The joys of bad girl-ing," tweeted one, and "Goodness, I can't make rotis at *all*. I'm going to hell," said another. Of course, some missed the joke entirely, taking the poster at face value.

So was the image created by a team of professional campaigners trying to generate traffic? Not exactly. It was drawn up by a group of students at the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology in Bangalore. The group, who are mixed male and female, were asked to juxtapose images from popular culture as part of a piece of homework. One of the group, Furqan Jawed, who originally posted the image to Facebook, told BBC Trending its popularity came as a surprise. "We did not mean it to become social propaganda. It was done as part of an assignment," he says. The group chose examples of things men could get away with, but women would be judged for. Their image is a parody of school posters that appeared in classrooms across India in the 1980s and 1990s.

A genuine poster showing the activities that an 'ideal boy' would carry out. Posters like these were displayed in Indian classrooms in the 1980s

The students were inspired by other artists who have parodied the posters before. Adarsh Balak (An Ideal Boy), is a series of images in which boys are the subject of ridicule, and already has a popular Facebook following. And in 2010, visual artist Meera Sethi used the idea to counter homophobic attitudes. She says she made an alternative poster "to empower young gay men", who were rarely seen as "ideal".

Another parody poster in a similar style A section of Meera Sethi's poster, which parodied the form back in 2010

The Bangalore students' artwork was posted on Twitter by Joylita Saldanha, who works for a tech firm in Bangalore, and saw it in a friend's Facebook feed. She decided to share the cartoon because she could relate to its message. "Growing up as an Indian girl, you hear most of those things being said to you all the time. 'You drink? You must be a bad girl.' That was what caught my attention," she tells BBC Trending.

Blog by Samiha Nettikkara and Sam Judah

Bad girl poster created by Furqan Jawed, Roshan Shakeel, Sparsh Saxena, Jaiwant Pradhan, and Stuti Kothari

Next story: The one about the Aborigine with a 'good personality'

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending.

All our stories are at

Celebrities defend gay rights in Ghana

Ghanaian celebrities have taken to social media to condemn the beating of a suspected gay man, opening a rare window for debate on homosexuality in a country where gay sex is illegal.

A video circulated on social media showing a famous music promoter, nicknamed "Kinto" being beaten and threatened by an angry mob. Police have made an arrest and say Kinto was "framed" according to reports.

But celebrities who know Kinto expressed disgust, with some going on to question Ghana's laws on homosexuality.

A police spokesperson said one person had been arrested on suspicion of assault in the case and that they were not investigating Kinto with regard to gay sex.

Video journalist: Greg Brosnan

For more videos subscribe to BBC Trending's YouTube channel.

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending. All our stories are at

Online about-face on Crawford photos

Cindy Crawford

It has been almost three decades since Cindy Crawford posed for her first-ever magazine cover, but her name was trending worldwide as an unretouched photo of the 48-year-old supermodel went viral on social media.

Initial reports indicated the image was part of a series of unretouched pictures to be featured in an upcoming issue of Marie Claire magazine.

The public's reaction to the photo - which features Crawford sporting a black lingerie set, fur coat and a not-quite taut stomach - was overwhelmingly positive.

"Bravo Cindy Crawford. 'Beauty is truth, truth beauty, that is all Ye need to know on earth, and all Ye need to know," tweeted fellow Hollywood star Jamie Lee Curtis.

"Could not love Cindy Crawford more for insisting that Marie Claire publish untouched, REAL photos of her #beautiful" wrote Twitter user @LouboutinJools.

While the story of Crawford demanding that Marie Claire publish the unretouched photo went viral, the magazine quietly amended that narrative in an article of its own. It stated that the image, which was taken from a shoot for a December 2013 cover story for Marie Claire Mexico and Latin America, was a leak.

The new revelation has lead to more soul-searching online, and has left some body image experts conflicted about the release of, and subsequent reaction to, Crawford's "brave," "real-woman" body.

"Now that I know the image was leaked, it kind of changes my response to it," said body image expert and author Leslie Goldman. "When we thought she had intentionally released that photo, it was different. We thought she was putting it out there to say 'I'm not perfect either.'"

That the image was apparently distributed without Crawford's permission puts it in a camp with other, more notorious celebrity leaks - like the infamous 2014 Apple iCloud hacks that targeted Hollywood A-listers including actress Jennifer Lawrence and pop star Rihanna.

"Tearing down unrealistic beauty standards is noble, but it shouldn't come at the cost of a woman's privacy," said Guardian columnist @JessicaValenti.

"How is an objectifying pic of Cindy Crawford's scantily clad, unretouched body released without her permission empowering to women exactly?" said Twitter user @WarrenHolstein.

Despite the media frenzy surrounding the image, Crawford and those close to her have remained silent, save a sole Valentine's Day Instagram from husband Randy Gerber. It showed Crawford lazing poolside - and looking much more the "supermodel" ideal.

The Marie Claire photo may have been circulated under circumstances that were dubious at best, but according to Goldman, that doesn't diminish the value of seeing a legendary supermodel with flaws. "Women everywhere are feeling empowered, relieved and grateful to her," Goldman said. "I just wish it had come about under her control."

Blog by Brenna Cammeron

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending.

All our stories are at

Selfies for the missing in Mexico

A woman with 43 painted on her forehead to show support for the 43 missing students in Mexico The campaign aims to commemorate the 43 students that went missing last year

In the latest twist in a protracted social media movement, thousands in Mexico have used Ash Wednesday to seek justice for the 43 students who went missing in September last year.

It's the case that has polarised Mexico: the disappearance and alleged mass murder of 43 male students from Ayotzinapa teacher training college in southern Mexico in September. Students from the college were on their way to protest over school hiring practices when they were stopped by police who shot at their buses. Three were killed and 43 others have not been heard from since. Mexico's attorney general Jesus Murillo Karam says the missing have been killed by a gang and their bodies burnt at a rubbish dump - an explanation rejected by families of these students and activists, who believe the military played a role in these events and have since taken up the students cause online and on the streets of Mexico.

Now the hashtag #43NoSonCeniza ("43 Are Not Ashes") has begun to pick up steam on Mexican social media. It aims to counter the government line about what happened to 43 male students. Activists are asking people to paint their forehead with the number '43', upload the pictures online and walk the streets to show their protest. The idea is to play on the traditional Ash Wednesday practice, where Christians mark the beginning of Lent by marking their foreheads with ashes, as a symbol of death and sorrow for sin.

A graphic showing people with 43 written on their foreheads The artists' collective behind the campaign intended to turn a Catholic ritual into a political expression

The message of the activists has begun to gain traction online - the hashtag has been mentioned more than 6,000 times. "This Wednesday put a 43 on your forehead. Justice, truth and memory. #WearellAyotzinapa. Will you join us?," reads one tweet, while another says "because the 'historical truth' of the PGR [Office of the General Prosecutor] is full of inconsistencies."

Several on Facebook and Twitter have also changed their avatars to a black graphic with the hashtag and the date. Some users have also begun to post selfies with the number 43 etched on their forehead.

People take part in a march commemorating four months of the disappearance of 43 students from Ayotzinapa, on January 26 at the Zocalo square in Mexico City. The disappearance of the students has led to protests online and in the streets

The campaign is the brainchild of a Mexico city-based artists' collective called ¿qué hacer? ("What to do"). They told BBC Trending they wanted to appropriate a Catholic ritual and turn it into a political expression. "We want people to remember, and keep remembering that the disappearance of the 43 students is still unresolved. To show our discomfort with the official version of facts, which tries to state that the students were incinerated and the military had nothing to do with it. Too many lies," a member of the group, who prefers not to be named, told us.

The campaign is picking up support but so far has not generated the mass national response that other social media trends related to the students' disappearance have. The hashtag #YaMeCanse, or "I am tired", has been used more than four million times since it first appeared in November.

Blog by Samiha Nettikkara

Next story: Turkish women share stories of abuse

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending.

All our stories are at

The anonymous 'hero' of the M25

A car on the M25 motorway

A van driver being celebrated for an act of kindness on the roads has chosen to remain anonymous.

After an Argos van driver pulled over to help a woman who'd broken down, he disappeared without a trace. Gemma Elsey-Kail was so rattled after breaking down on Friday on the M25 - the orbital motorway that loops around London - that when a van driver pulled over to shield her from traffic, she forgot to ask for his full name. When the police arrived, the van driver continued his journey, and she was none the wiser about his identity.

But that afternoon she took to Facebook to try and track him down. "I broke down on the M25 today in an area with no hard shoulder. I rushed to get my baby and 4 year old onto the verge while cars and trucks were swerving all around us," she wrote. "An Argos delivery driver pulled behind us using his visible lorry as a way of preventing anyone going into our car... I didn't get his number in all the panic so hopefully this can somehow reach him. He was our hero today."

The people of Facebook obliged, and the post spread like wildfire. It has now been shared almost 20,000 times, and liked by more than 130,000 people. "That is so brave," read one comment, and "a true gent" said another. Some were even concerned that if found, the driver would face disciplinary action for the delay to his schedule. Either way, the search was afoot. The post was picked up by Argos who began looking for more details. "I was completely shocked by the response," Elsey-Kail tells BBC Trending. She hadn't predicted such a huge reaction to the post. Finally, on Tuesday afternoon, the company confirmed that he had been found, and his manager notified. The driver was "overwhelmed with your comments, thank you all" posted a representative of the firm.

So who was the mystery man? We contacted Argos to request an interview, but with no luck. The company tells us he does not want to be named because he is a "shy guy", who wants his act of goodwill to remain anonymous.

Next story: How the "Fifty Shades" social commentary spread across Asia

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending.

All our stories are at

Boycotting Bali over the death sentence

Bali island An Australian online movement to boycott the island of Bali has caused a backlash in Indonesia

The beautiful tourist island of Bali is at the centre of a social media confrontation between Australians - who want their nationals to be taken off death row - and furious locals.

In Indonesia, those found guilty of drug trafficking face execution by a 12-man firing squad. Authorities in the Indonesian island are about to carry out this harsh penalty against several foreign nationals. Now, an online movement urging Australian tourists not to visit Bali has triggered a Twitter spat between the two nations.

Australian public outrage has focussed on the cases of two men, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, both Australian citizens, and both of whom were sentenced to death in 2006 for leading a drug trafficking group dubbed the "Bali Nine". This month, a local court rejected a petition to review their cases, and Indonesian President Joko Widodo also decided not to grant their request for clemency (although there are reports that their execution may be postponed).

In a bid to save Chan and Sukumaran, Australians on social media have started a #BoycottBali hashtag calling on their countrymen to stop spending their tourist dollars on holidays to the tropical island. "Bali bombers get clemency but the two Australians get executed? Messed up government in Indonesia absolutely disgusted," read a typical tweet, and the hashtag has appeared more than 18,000 times in the last week.

Here's how some Indonesians reacted: "Dear Australians, if you think we prefer tourism than drugs which killed our kids future? please #BoycottBali and find a cheaper one," was one fairly typical tweet. Balinese punk rock band Superman is Dead called the Australian campaign an "over-reaction", and argued Bali could survive without Australian tourism. "Those threatening to boycott Bali probably do not realise that many of us Balinese feel sick to our stomachs, to see the way SOME Aussie tourists completely disrespect our people and our culture," they wrote on their Facebook page.

The Indonesian version of their message has had over 46,000 likes, and the English-language one over 18,000 likes - both have been shared thousands of times on Facebook and Twitter. "I am personally against death penalty," JRX, the drummer of Superman is Dead, told BBC Trending. "But what concerns us now is the Bali boycott issue. We are not saying all Australians are bad... But it is time for Australia to educate their people about how to behave as tourists".

"We would side with Australia if they pushed for a lighter sentence for the convicts, but by asking people to boycott Bali, they are crossing a line," he adds.

The 'Music for Mercy' concert and vigil on 29 January at Martin Place in Sydney aimed to show support for Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, two Australians who face execution in Indonesia for drug smuggling. A concert held in Sydney in January aimed to show support for Sukumaran and Chan

But many Australians online are sticking to their position. An Australian Facebook group Boycott Bali for the Boys has a rival message on its page: "We merely want the Indonesian government to listen to the Australian people! It will have a lasting impact on the economy of Bali and Indonesia if the goodwill between us is damaged in this way!"

There has been official commentary in the case too. Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, said Chan and Sukumaran were "sincerely remorseful" and expressed hope for mercy from Indonesia. "In urging Indonesia not to proceed with the executions of Andrew and Myuran, we are by no means underestimating the problem of drug-related crimes. Nor are we downplaying the gravity of the crimes these two men committed," she said. According to reports, she also said in a radio interview that Australians may "reconsider" their holiday plans if the executions are carried out. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott told a television station the country would find "ways to make our displeasure felt." Meanwhile, Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla said they will not be influenced by calls to boycott the country if the executions are not stopped.

Two Britons have also been sentenced to death for drug offences in Indonesia. Lindsay Sandiford, 57, from Cheltenham, was convicted for smuggling after she was found with cocaine worth an estimated £1.6m in Bali in 2012. She is currently trying to seek help from the UK government for legal help or funding for an appeal. Gareth Cashmore, from West Yorkshire, was originally handed a life sentence but the penalty was raised to a death sentence in 2012, according to reports.

Blog by Samiha Nettikkara

Next story: 10 Hours of Walking in Paris as a Jew

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending.

All our stories are at

How the "Fifty Shades" social commentary spread across Asia

Scene from 50 Shades of Grey

The craze for using "Fifty Shades of Grey" language to make salacious online comments about ordinary life - rather than talk about sex - is spreading across Asia.

It's the stuff marketing campaigners dream of: a concept takes off and people in other countries claim it as their own, tailoring it for their specific circumstances. Such was the fate of the #50ShadesofGrey hashtag that began in Singapore. Earlier this week, thousands of Singaporeans played off the erotic film's style to make jokey comments about city life. Now, people in Manila and Hong Kong are borrowing lines from E.L James' novel and film to reference aspects of their life totally unrelated to sex.

So in the Philippines, which according to reports have among the highest electricity prices of most South East Asian countries, they bemoaned energy rates; "Lower, please, make it lower," she moaned, begging. Then she opened her Meralco bill. #MNL50ShadesofGrey" was one example.

And in Hong Kong they referenced Chinese New Year traditions: "He gripped the swollen red sheath. She gasped and reached out. "Kung Hei Fat Choy" he breathed, handing her the envelope. #HK50Shadesofgrey"

The idea crossed three international borders (the Manila hashtag was used more than 2,600 times, the Hong Kong one about 1,500 times; the original Singapore hashtag was used 5,000 plus times) and began as many things do with a casual conversation between friends.

Ana Tan Santos - aka @MrsUnlawyer said she was encouraged to start the Manila hashtag following the example of her poet friend Alvin Pang in Singapore. Ana's husband Paul then suggested sharing it with Hongkongers - and their journalist friend Alan Wong in Hong Kong took the bait and rose to the challenge.

As Mr Wong notes: The beauty of the Shades of Grey tweets is that, all cultural and regional differences aside, we all speak a common language.

Their aim - like the book on which it is based - was simply to have fun.

Blog by Sitala Peek

Next story: Tony Hart Mourned Twice on Twitter

Or maybe you'd like to watch: 50 Shades of Singapore

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending. All our stories are at

Turkish women share stories of abuse

Women shout slogans and hold a portrait of 20-year-old Ozgecan Aslan, during a demonstration against Aslan's murder in Ankara The murder triggered demonstrations in Ankara on Monday

The attempted rape and murder of a young woman has electrified social media in Turkey - and now hundreds of thousands of women are sharing their own stories of sexual abuse.

For several days now, one young woman's tragic story has gripped the Turkish nation. On Wednesday last week Ozgecan Aslan was abducted and later murdered, allegedly for standing up to a man who tried to rape her. According to reports, she pepper-sprayed her assailant but was later overcome, and beaten to death with an iron bar. The tragic case has touched a nerve in Turkey, and Aslan's name has now appeared more than 4 million times on Twitter.

At the beginning of the week there were street protests over the case. Now the conversation about her death has evolved, and women across the country are using a hashtag - #sendeanlat - to swap tales of everyday sexual abuse. The phrase translates as "tell your story", and has itself been used 800,000 times. "Do you know how it feels like having to put pants instead skirts on your daughter?" said one tweet using the hashtag, and "The terror when you're the last on the bus and the driver turns the mirror on u," read another. Both messages appeared in English thanks to the work of a writer, Tonella Himbeer, who is translating what Turkish women are saying.

There have seemingly been watershed moments like this on social media in the past in Turkey - when women have spoken up en masse, for example, over a Minister's comments about women laughing in public. But this conversation felt so significant that Himbeer wanted the rest of the world - or at least the English speaking world - to see what was happening too. She told BBC Trending that on Sunday she began translating the tweets, and the hashtag, so that a wider audience could understand the "horrific" encounters of Turkish women. "When I went to police after being harassed they told me: no wonder if you wear that skirt. #tellyourstory," said one of the translations.

The last decade has seen a sharp rise in the level of violence against women in Turkey, although part of that may be due to better reporting of cases. Some in Turkey's women's movement feel that official policy has not helped. Selen Lermioglu from women's group Esitiz ("We Are Equal") told BBC Trending that in her view the government, led by the AKP party, has encouraged gender stereotypes. In a conference in November, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said equality between men and women was "against nature". "Turkey was already traditional and patriarchal," says Lermioglu, "but these messages aren't helpful". She thinks the social media outcry represents the breaking of a taboo over discussing everyday sexual harassment and abuse in public.

Not everyone agrees with the sentiment behind the campaign. One female journalist, Sevda Turkusev, a columnist for the pro-government daily newspaper Yeni Safak, used the #sendeanlat hashtag to criticize the women, tweeting "To those women telling the abuses they experienced not to doctors but on social media: Do you think you are going to be heroes like those on tv series?"

Blog by Gemma Newby

Next story: Why life in Somalia is funnier than you may think

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending. All our stories are at

Life in Somalia is funnier than you might think

What's your stereotype of the Somali capital Mogadishu?

Whatever it is, chances are it's different from the view you get if you follow Ugaaso Abukar Boocow on Instagram.

She has 42,000 followers largely because of her irreverent take on Somali life.

Video Journalist: Neil Meads

For more videos subscribe to BBC Trending's YouTube channel.

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending. All our stories are at

10 Hours of Walking in Paris as a Jew

A man placing a kippah on his head beside the Eiffel Tower Klein affixes his kippah beside the Eiffel Tower in Paris

Can Jewish people walk the streets of Paris in peace?

That's the question Zvika Klein - a journalist at an Israeli news website - says he set out to answer. He borrowed the "10 hours in...." YouTube format, in which a hidden camera is used to show what it's like to walk a city's streets. It first appeared back in October, when hidden camera footage of a woman facing sexist abuse as she walked the streets of New York was watched almost 40 million times. It spawned a raft of of copycat videos.

Klein's version takes place in the French capital. In the film he dons a kippah - the traditional Jewish skullcap - in front of the Eiffel Tower, and wanders the streets of the city. He appears to face significant abuse as he walks around. Residents are seen staring and spitting at him, while others apparently shout "Jew" and "Viva Palestine". The footage was gathered over 10 hours at the beginning of February, says Klein, and edited down into a clip lasting just over 90 seconds. It's been watched more than 100,000 times in less than 24 hours, and the number is climbing fast. He told BBC Trending he flew to Paris to conduct the experiment for NRG, a news website based in Israel.

A resident shouts 'Jew' at Klein

It's impossible for us to verify Klein's video, and like other "10 hours in..." videos there has been a large amount of editing - which critics say conveys a false impression. The clips featured appear to be shot in poorer and predominantly Muslim neighbourhoods. Could he be accused of deliberately seeking out negative comments? He doesn't see it that way. "If I was walking around with an Israeli flag, I understand it might create negative feelings. But I don't think [wearing a kippah] should generate that kind of thing."

So are Jewish people confronted with this kind of abuse throughout the city? No, not everywhere, Klein tells BBC Trending. In its more famous neighbourhoods - around the Champs Elysees and the Eiffel Tower - he saw "a little bit, but nothing worth putting in the video". "As we went to the suburbs, or certain neighbourhoods in the city, the remarks became more violent," he says.

Although a bodyguard was trailing Klein and his secret cameraman, he was not called into action. "I did think that there might be some violence, but there was none," Klein says. In fact some locals spoke out in his defence when heckled, and there was a friendly conversation as well, but these were not filmed and included in the video.

With an apparently anti-Semitic murder among two killings in Copenhagen this weekend, and last month's Paris attacks including four murders at a Kosher supermarket, some Jews in Europe are feeling vulnerable. Marc Konczaty, president of MJLF, a Jewish community organisation in Paris, says he is not surprised by the video, and that anti-Semitic abuse in the city is "getting worse". "People are no longer bothered about saying things in public," he says. But he agrees with Klein's observation that it is usually confined to certain neighbourhoods in the north and east of Paris. He is keen to point out that Muslims and other minorities in the city can face similar problems.

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending. All our stories are at

50 Shades of Singapore

Singaporeans are commenting on city life using social media

What do the film Fifty Shades of Grey and life in Singapore have in common?

The hashtag #SG50shadesofgrey has been used more than 60,000 times by Singaporeans - but not to talk about sex. Instead they are commenting on city life.

BBC Trending spoke to the tag's creator.

Produced by Samiha Nettikkara

Picture and video credits: Getty Images, AFP, Reuters

Also from Trending: Why are some people posting the same photo everyday?

For more videos subscribe to BBC Trending's YouTube channel.

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending. All our stories are at

Tony Hart mourned twice on Twitter

Artist and television presenter Tony Hart

Tributes have been suddenly pouring in online for the artist and kids TV presenter Tony Hart - which is surprising, as he passed away six years ago.

Since Sunday Tony Hart has been Trending in the UK as hundreds use Twitter to pay their respects with hashtags like #RIPTonyHart and #Hartbeat. People are also sharing obituaries about Hart who died at age of 83. However they've missed one very important detail. Mr Hart died on the 18th of January 2009.

As his obituary on the BBC from the time says, TV programmes such as Hartbeat, featuring the character Morph, made him "an iconic and much-loved figure for millions of budding young artists who tuned into his BBC art shows for nearly 50 years".

So why is his name suddenly one of the UK's top Twitter trends? It appears that the confusion started on Sunday at 20:44 GMT when Dan Huntley, a 33-year-old father of two from Kent, tweeted "RIP Tony Hart. #tonyhart #hartbeat #morph" About half an hour later he'd discovered his mistake and acknowledged it online. "My Mrs just told me she saw a post on Facebook and assumed it was today he died," he said.

"I loved Hartbeat as a child so I wanted to pay tribute. I didn't really think twice about it," Huntley told BBC Trending. "However, when I was informed that he died 6 years ago, I remembered paying tribute on my own Facebook page. I have no idea why it would suddenly start trending like that, unless it was a simple mix up like what happened with me."

Many others who say Tony Hart's name had also made the same assumption. "Tony Hart has died. How many artistic careers and fulfilling pastimes did that simultaneously gentle and fiercely creative man launch?" tweeted digital arts consultant Steve Manthorp.

Those who posted about Hart's death in error were quickly corrected by other Twitter users. Before long there was a cacophony of tributes and corrections followed by a dose of sarcasm with remarks like: "Tony Hart: so good, we mourned him twice."

Others took their mistake in good humour. "Tony Hart did indeed pass years ago. He's popped up in a lot of timelines today." wrote Jon Carter. " Well it's still a shame. Sorry to see you go - again - Tony."

Blog by Anne-Marie Tomchak

Next story: Is it OK to call disabled people 'inspirational'?

Follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending. All our stories are at

Trippy photos get new life on Instagram

A photographer's collection of images from the 1970s have become modern hits on Instagram

Photographer Roger Steffens has taken iconic shots of rock and roll legends. But it's his collection of personal snapshots of life in the 1970s - including some psychedelic double exposures - that is now attracting attention.

The work was mostly forgotten until his children digitised the slides and started posting them on Instagram. Now the @thefamilyacid Instagram feed has over 15,000 followers and the Steffens family has a new book, The Family Acid.

Steffens admits that psychedelic drugs changed his life. His children say that despite their unconventional upbringing, they are a happy, close-knit family.

Roger and his children spoke to the BBC from Roger's home outside Los Angeles.

Filmed by Tim Myers. Edited by Bill McKenna.

Is it OK to call disabled people 'inspirational'?

Snowboarder Amy Purdy featured in a Super Bowl ad - but some critics called it "inspiration porn" Snowboarder Amy Purdy featured in a Super Bowl ad - but some critics called it "inspiration porn"

Two big Super Bowl advertisements have touched off the latest debate about whether disabled people can be "inspirational" for doing everyday things - or if the tag is condescending.

During the American football festivities earlier this month, Paralympian Amy Purdy ran, snowboarded and danced for Toyota, while Microsoft showed off how its technology helps a six-year-old boy with prosthetic legs. And those certainly aren't the only attention-grabbing videos featuring disabled people. BBC Trending recently covered the story of Madison Tevlin's rendition of "All of Me" which has now been watched more than 6m times.

The term "inspiration porn" was brought to the mainstream by the late Australian comedian Stella Young, and Trending radio brought together two disabled bloggers to debate the adjective. Is it OK to be "inspired" by disabled people - and is the "inspiring" tag encouraging or offensive?

Charlie Swinbourne, blogger at It's wrong to use disabled people to provoke strong reactions

Charlie Swinbourne Charlie Swinbourne

The thing I feel troubled about is that words like "inspiring" are a product of low expectations of disabled people. And I think there's a lot of positives within Madison Tevlin's video. But often - and the Super Bowl adverts were an example of this - disability is used as a kind of hook to tell the story of achieving despite the odds, a Hollywood story. People aren't looking at a more complex, nuanced picture of what disabled lives are like. It does make people look at disability in a positive way, but I think what I have a problem with is disability being used as a way to create a reaction in non-disabled people.

I'm partially deaf, and I object to formulaic use of disability to create a response. Often people look at disability as something to overcome, and if you overcome that, everything will be OK. I think that's very concerning.

I think there's an issue with the polarisation of how disabled people are seen - either you've got the highest achievers or you're seen as a scrounger who's taking something from society, and the reality is almost everybody is neither of those things.

Melissa Finefrock, blogger at hopeburnsblue: I now realise that everyone has their own reasons for being 'inspired'

Melissa Finefrock Melissa Finefrock

Sometimes people would just walk up to me and just say "you're inspiring". I might be crossing a street and someone might walk up to me and say "you're inspiring" - I'm blind. At the time I was busy being annoyed because that's what I was taught to be.

But once I fell on train tracks and I almost died. I busted up my leg and I was depressed and I had to find inspiration anywhere I could. I realised that sometimes people have stories behind why they're inspired that we couldn't possibly guess at.

It's language. Maybe people are impressed by how I navigate or they're intrigued by the adaptive technology I use. I think people resort to this concept of "inspiration" to put one word on it. What they're coming away with is still positive. And it's good that people are seeing us in a positive light, because just decades ago nobody expected anything of us.

Madison Tevlin's rendition of "All of Me" which has now been watched more than 6m times - Trending interviewed her and her family

Trending is on BBC World Service radio at 10:30 GMT on Saturdays and you can put us in your pocket and listen anytime by downloading our free podcast.

More blog posts:

Should Jon Stewart and Brian Williams swap jobs?

The case for a non-white Spider-Man

Follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending. All our stories are at

Trends of the week - in 60 seconds

Why have pictures of men reading while riding the New York subway gone viral? And what got people in the UAE so upset?

Click above for BBC Trending's picks of the week in 60 just seconds.

And if you'd like a little bit more, check out the best of our blogs and videos from the past week.

Produced by Gabriela Torres and Gemma Newby

Picture credits: Getty, AP, AFP, Instagram/HotDudesReading, Marvel Comics

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.

Political hip-hop and repetition, repetition, repetition: #BBCTrending's weekly round-up

Fork ... fork ... fork ... fork ... Why do some people post the same picture every day? Fork ... fork ... fork ... fork ... Why do some people post the same picture every day?

The team brings you the inside stories of some of the week's biggest social media trends.

On the BBC Trending blog:

Did this woman really call Islamic State fighters "donkeys"?

Jon Stewart and Brian Williams should just swap jobs. No, seriously.s

How North Carolina murders sparked global outrage ...

... but were some too quick to call it a "hate crime"?

The man who dares to mock Iran's religious leaders

And the best Trending videos from the last seven days ...

Why would you post the exact same picture in your social media feed every single day? And going one step beyond that - why would you follow one of those accounts that posts those repetitive pictures? Well, for some reason, several of these monotonous accounts have thousands of followers and likes. We found out more ... and more ... and more ... and more ... [Ed: Enough!]

Vietnam is a communist state where it's not always easy to criticise the government. But a young Vietnamese rapper studying in the United States has launched a scathing criticism of the state using rap music. With more than 200,000 views on YouTube, it has struck a chord back home.

Watch more videos on our YouTube channel or follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending. All our stories are at

Conservative groups want Indian couples to marry on the spot

An Indian couple in a 'Kiss of Love' demonstration last November. Hindu political parties have vowed to crack down on similar public displays of affection this Valentine's Day An Indian couple in a 'Kiss of Love' demonstration last November. Hindu political parties have vowed to crack down on similar public displays of affection this Valentine's Day

Right-wing Hindu groups in India say they will be "requesting" unmarried couples caught in public on Valentine's Day to marry on the spot - an announcement that's provoked a backlash on Facebook.

Around the world, many couples will be splashing out on chocolates, flowers and expensive restaurants on a day named after a Roman saint with an obscure history who probably met a grisly end. But in India, on social media and potentially on the streets, Valentine's Day has also caused a clash of two very different ideas of love.

On one side are conservative political parties. The Hindu Mahasabha, one of India's oldest Hindu parties, says its activists will be poring over Facebook posts and also visiting public parks looking for couples in the midst of public displays of affection. If the couples aren't married, and don't agree to marry that very day, they'll be contacting their parents and the police.

Munna Kumar Sharma, the party's nation general secretary, told BBC Trending the aim was to safeguard Indian traditional values and protect women from men who would otherwise be exploiting them. The patrols will "protect girls and women from straying too far down a path of Western culture," he said.

The Kerala branch of the Bajrang Dal, another Hindu party who are planning a similar exercise, told us they plan to take a priest along with them to make sure any on-the-spot weddings are official.

But in an act of protest against moral policing, thousands of romantic notes have been appearing on Facebook this week as part of an organised "Love Letters Movement".

"Dearest Saramma," wrote one Facebook user to his valentine. "In these difficult times when life is yearningly youthful and the heart brimming over with love, how do you, my dearest friend reconcile yourself to it all?"

The pro-Valentine's camp is just as organised as their opponents. Rahul Pasupalan is an organiser of the "Kiss of Love" group, which is not only behind the love letters protest but also got crowds out in Kerala in a mass kiss to protest the vandalising of a cafe where couples were shown kissing on television. This time around, the group is planning a huge Valentine's Day celebration.

"India is a place where our ancestors celebrated love and it's marked there in the history," Pasupalan said. "India is a place where we celebrate love. The Taj Mahal is here, and it's a symbol of love. The Karma Sutra came from here and that's about sex." He says the claim that Indians are losing their traditional values is "nonsense."

A poster produced by the "Kiss of Love" group to protest what they say is unfair moral policing by Hindu groups. A poster produced by the "Kiss of Love" group to protest what they say is unfair moral policing by Hindu groups.

More from Trending:

"Money like rice" - Egypt president allegedly attacks Gulf wealth

Fallen leader: Mugabe mocked after tumble

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

All our stories are at

Mexican woman who claims ties to police chief scolded on Twitter

Lady Goliat

"Lady" can be a term of respect. But in Mexico, it's also a title given to badly behaved women.

The scenario might sound familiar to anyone who's tried to drive in a busy town. A woman whose car is double-parked in Mexico City is approached by an officer who asks her to move. But she won't budge. In a video that's been watched more than 700,000 times on several YouTube channels, the woman asks the officer for his ID badge and says: "I will go straight to Goliat [the regional police director] to show him how his people behave" - and she mentions she's a relative of the big boss.

The video sparked outrage on Twitter under the hashtag #LadyGoliat. "Watching this, how can we complain about police officers behaviour?" asked one user. Another wrote: "As citizens we deserve a better police force, but police officers deserve better citizens."

The incident was picked up by local media who published all sorts of unconfirmed information about the woman and her alleged links with Police Chief Goliat, until the police department itself stepped into the conversation, stating that "the person who appears on the "Lady Goliat" video has no links with the chief of police." The chief confirmed having been introduced to the woman during a residents' meeting but said they had no family ties.

But that doesn't mean that the officer is totally in the clear. According to the newspaper Milenio, he's under investigation for not properly handling the situation, as he didn't call for backup and his argument with the woman potentially damaged the police's reputation.

"Lady" is a common moniker given to women in Mexico who get caught up in scandalous behaviour on social media - such as #LadyChiles, who caught her housemaid stealing chillies from her cupboard, a story previously covered by BBC Trending.

Blog by Gabriela Torres

More blog posts:

Did this woman really call Islamic State fighters "donkeys"?

Jon Stewart and Brian Williams: they should just swap jobs

Follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending. All our stories are at

Did a feminist abort her baby because it was a boy?

woman's torso

The internet was shocked by an feminist who says she aborted her baby because it was a boy. But was she for real?

One woman's account of her abortion caused a huge stir online this week. In a blog post published on a site called Injustice Stories, a writer who remains anonymous but calls herself "Lana" explains how she decided to terminate her pregnancy in the second trimester after discovering she was having a boy. She describes herself as a feminist and says she "couldn't bring another monster" - a man - "into the world."

The catalyst for her decision, Lana says, was an altercation she had on a flight. She wrote that she had been flying business class to San Francisco to take part in an Occupy Wall Street rally, when "an extremely well dressed man" whispered something offensive into her ear, leading her to scream "ASSAULT!" She went on to say that a male flight attendant failed to help her and that she felt "verbally and emotionally raped". This incident consolidated her view that she could "no longer depend on men to be an ally of the cause" and ultimately led her to abort her baby boy "fairly late" in her pregnancy. "I was aware there were certain risks, but it went off without a hitch," she writes.

The blog post went viral and was reported on by several mainstream news outlets (although the Huffington Post subsequently added a note saying "this may be a hoax"). The story was also widely repeated on conservative blogs and anti-abortion websites. Many were shocked at Lana's apparent actions: in comments, some readers said they "almost threw up" while others were "disturbed by this warped-minded monster." Sex-selective abortion is illegal in several countries, including the UK.

But are "Lana" and the story of her termination real? BBC Trending has not been able to verify her story or her identity. In fact, we've been trying to reach her for days. We went through the site's administrator, a man who only identified himself as "Robert." Robert told us Lana was travelling in India without a mobile phone and with limited internet access. Eventually we did manage to speak to her briefly via Skype, however the call was cut off the instant we asked our first question. Since then, neither Lana nor Robert have responded to repeated attempts to contact them.

Meanwhile others online picked up on unexplained inconsistencies in Lana's story. The urban legends debunkers at called the story "probably false" and says it was "likely a troll for page views". Feminist blog Jezebel went further and called it a "very, very fake story", pointing out that a late-term abortion is rarely a simple process (it can involve a general anaesthetic, for instance).

The critics say she never mentions how she got pregnant or by whom (a man, presumably), and that it's unclear why anyone would fly business class to anti-capitalist demonstration. Then there is the site, Injustice Stories. Visitors to the site were only able to read the first two paragraphs of Lana's story - to read the rest, they had to like the site on Facebook or Tweet about it. Nearly 10,000 people did - as we did, to read to the end of the post - and that mechanism probably made the story spread faster than it otherwise would have. "The virality of this story is sort of a nice reminder about confirmation bias: when something fits our preferred narrative just a little too snugly, it's probably time for scepticism," wrote Jezebel's Anna Merlan.

Blog by Anne-Marie Tomchak and Mike Wendling

More blog posts:

Did this woman really call Islamic State fighters "donkeys"?

Jon Stewart and Brian Williams: they should just swap jobs

Follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending. All our stories are at

The mother who is "angry as hell" with anti-vaccination movement

Jennifer Hibben-White's child was exposed to measles while visiting a doctor's office. Seven people have come down with the disease in the Toronto area. Jennifer Hibben-White's child was exposed to measles while visiting a doctor's office. Seven people have come down with the disease in the Toronto area.

A mother in Canada who wrote a scathing critique of parents who refuse vaccinations has had her Facebook post shared more than a quarter of a million times.

Jennifer Hibben-White got a call from local health officials outside Toronto, Canada, with news that would frighten any parent: she and her 15-day-old son had been exposed to measles during a routine check-up at a doctor's office. Seven cases of measles have been reported in the Toronto area including the case of a fully vaccinated man who came down with the disease, health authorities said on Wednesday.

After receiving the call, Hibben-White wrote an emotional post on Facebook - targeting not the man with measles but rather parents who don't vaccinate their children: "I won't get angry at or blame the person in the waiting room. I would have likely done the same thing ... you get sick, you go to the doctor. I have no idea what their story is and I will never know. But I do know one thing: If you have chosen to not vaccinate yourself or your child, I blame you."

"And I'm angry," she continued. "Angry as hell."

In the post, Hibben-White also mentioned the death of another of her children from a different disease.

"You know what vaccines protect your children from? Pain. Suffering. Irreparable harm. Death," she wrote. "And you would be the first to line up if you had an inkling of what the death of a child feels like ... the fact is, there was no vaccine for [my daughter]. Not for her illness. And she died."

An outbreak of measles which started at Disneyland in California last month has since spread to 17 US states and has made vaccination a hot political topic in North America, with US presidential candidates making a variety of heavily scrutinised statements on the issue. In Toronto, vaccination rates vary widely - in one school fewer than half of students have received the combined MMR (Measles Mumps Rubella) vaccine.

The anti-vaccination ("anti-vax") movement first gathered steam after the publication of a now-retracted paper in The Lancet in 1998 by discredited British doctor Andrew Wakefield which indicated a possible link between autism and the MMR vaccine.

Although the paper was widely debated in the UK years ago, culminating in Wakefield being struck off the General Medical Council register in 2010, until now the story has been less well-covered in North America.

Hibben-White's post tapped into an anti-vaxxer backlash - it was shared more than 250,000 times and comments were unanimously positive. One mother who shared the post commented: "I have remained silent on the vaccination issue, until now ... If I were this mother, I would be furious. Vaccinate your children people."

At just over two weeks old, Hibben-White's child is too young to be vaccinated, and she ended her post with a reference to the incubation period of measles.

"Seven more days until I know that my baby is safe. Seven more days," she wrote. "How is your week going, anti-vaxxers?"

More blog posts:

Did this woman really call Islamic State fighters "donkeys"?

Jon Stewart and Brian Williams: they should just swap jobs

Follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending. All our stories are at

Was it right to label Chapel Hill shootings a 'hate crime' so quickly?

Cartoon showing how people perceive shooters of different backgrounds Images like this were widely shared under the #ChapelHillShooting hashtag

The creator of the #ChapelHillShooting hashtag admits he "assumed" the triple murder was a hate crime but says people "cannot blame the Arab and Muslim community for believing that."

It's a murder case that has captured global attention - but were people on social media too quick to call it a hate crime? More than 2m people all over the world have now used the hashtag #ChapelHillShooting to express their condolences over the shooting of three Muslim students in North Carolina. A quarter of a million people used the phrase "Muslim Lives Matter" on Twitter. Many of them - including the father of two of the victims - have said that the shootings were a hate crime based on the victims' faith.

However the police have not yet confirmed any motivation in the case beyond a dispute over parking spaces. They've arrested Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, in connection with the shooting of 23-year-old Deah Shaddy Barakat, his wife, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19. Mr Hicks' wife has told the media she does not believe religion was a factor.

So why did people online assume it was a hate crime?

The #ChapelHillShooting hashtag was started by an activist, Abed Ayoub. He's the legal and policy director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), a lobby group based in Washington. At the time when he first tweeted about it, details of the crime were still thin on the ground. BBC Trending's Mukul Devichand spoke to him about his decision to highlight the case. Below is an edited transcript of their conversation - you can catch the full discussion on our radio show and podcast on Saturday.


Q. What did you know about the shootings and when did you decide to write your first tweet?

In the initial stages we knew that three of our community members were killed, just the basic facts that a young man, his wife and her sister were murdered. One description said "execution-style" and as soon as we read that, most of us figured that there's probably something there. We have noticed a rise in Islamophobia and anti-Arab sentiment in the US so the first thing of course that popped into our minds, and my mind, was that this could be a potential hate crime.

At the beginning I was hesitant about saying this is a hate crime, I thought "we need to have the investigation go forward", but as bits and pieces of information began coming out, I personally made a determination that there was a high probability this was a hate crime. When you have people killed "execution-style" that doesn't happen in an argument over a parking spot as the police officers are saying. There's something more.

Q. But at the time you gave these events their interpretation on social media, you did not really know what happened?

At the time I was tweeting and others were tweeting, yes, we made the assumption given the circumstances and given the facts, that this was a hate crime. But I think - as one of my other tweets alluded to - you cannot blame the Arab and Muslim community for believing that.

Q. You are the legal and policy director of a major campaigning organisation. By jumping the gun did you undermine the credibility of the case?

No, by jumping the gun I think we opened the dialogue and conversation about the issues we're facing in this community.


More from Trending:

Did this woman really call Islamic State fighters 'donkeys'?

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

All our stories are at

Why are some people posting the same picture every day?

BBC Trending tries to find the true meaning behind a bizarre social phenomenon.

Why would you post the exact same picture in your social media feed every single day?

And going one step beyond that - why would you follow one of those accounts that posts those repetitive pictures?

Well, for some reason, several of these monotonous accounts have thousands of followers and likes.

BBC Trending found out more.

Reporter: India Rakusen

Video Journalist: Alvaro A. Ricciardelli

Also from Trending: The mystery of the 'never-ending' Tweet chain - solved!

For more videos subscribe to BBC Trending's YouTube channel.

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending. All our stories are at

Did an elderly Syrian woman really call IS fighters 'donkeys'?

"Marvellous, an old lady teaches Islamic State fighters a lesson they won't forget," says the caption under the video. But who exactly are the men she's scolding?

More than a million people on Facebook have watched an online video of an elderly Syrian woman scolding two fighters, her speech peppered with profanities. "Return to God!" the woman yells at the men in the car who are filming her. "Don't slaughter anyone and no one should slaughter you ... it's all haram [sinful] ... neither you nor Bashar [Assad] will win anything." She then curses as she describes the current situation in Syria. The two men respond by saying they don't have time for her, but she continues to give them a piece of her mind.

Ultimately she calls them "donkeys", and they laugh.

The video was uploaded onto Facebook by Bint Jbeil, a southern Lebanese website popular with the country's Shia Muslim population. The website billed it as an old woman scolding fighters from Islamic State. BBC Trending hasn't been able to verify who the woman is but Syria experts say her accent is from the town of Daraa (a town in south-west Syria not under IS control).

But are men being shouted at actually Islamic State fighters, or are they from a different armed group? BBC Trending found that at least three other versions of the same video were uploaded to YouTube in the days before the Facebook post was published. These appeared under different titles which suggest the incident occurred in the town of Daraa and that the men were actually with the Free Syrian Army (FSA), a rebel force that is Western- and Gulf Arab-backed. The earlier versions of the videos - none of which mentioned IS - were only viewed a few hundred times.

The YouTube videos show a bit more of one of the men in the car, and he appears in military fatigue trousers. However, experts on Syria told Trending that because it is difficult to be certain where video was shot, it's not possible to ascertain which fighting faction the old woman was speaking to. We spoke to Bint Jbeil's website admin, Hassan Baidoun, and he said that someone they didn't know sent them the video in an email, and that the anonymous sender claimed it showed IS fighters. "We're not sure if she was speaking to IS fighters, they could be FSA or al-Nusra Front, but we can't tell" Baidoun admitted.

More than 2,000 people commented on the video and many of them were sceptical of the claims that the fighters were from Islamic State. "If they were IS they would have killed her," one Syrian said.

Blog by Mai Noman

More from Trending:

How North Carolina murders sparked global outrage

Should Stewart and Williams swap jobs?

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

All our stories are at

Ecuadorians leap to clown's defence after John Oliver skit

John Oliver on Last Week Tonight show

A comedian has infuriated Ecuadorians after mocking President Rafael Correa - and a beloved childhood character - on American television.

John Oliver ridiculed the Ecuadorian president during his Last Week Tonight Show. He focused on Correa's attempt to marshal an army of trolls against his social media critics - a story BBC Trending covered previously - but what really irritated Ecuadorians was the fact that he ridiculed one of his beloved childhood characters: Tiko Tiko the clown.

The comedian showed a clip from Correa's TV programme in which Tiko Tiko interrupts the president's speech with a song. Oliver commented: "Unfortunately, they [the televised speeches] can take a darker turn. Yes, even darker than a clown."

Tiko Tiko has been a trending topic in Ecuador for the last two days. "It can't be that international TV makes fun of such a prominent person ... poor Tiko Tiko!" tweeted one.

During his show, the comedian also gave Correa some advice: "President Correa, if you are this sensitive, then Twitter and Facebook might not be for you." As a response, the Correa poked fun at Oliver (a Brit who famously found love and success in the US): "English comedian mocks President Correa. Have there ever been English comedians? Are you sure?" and two pro-government hashtags were created: #JohnYouAreInvited (to Ecuador, that is) and #EcuatorianoHastalaMedula ("Ecuadorians to the core").

Correa found support on his Facebook site, where he also posted the same comment. But he also found people asking him not to take comedy too seriously. "Mr President, we are not against you, but you have to admit that you have a problem of hypersensitivity," commented Gina Oña.

And for to Tiko Tiko, whose real name is Ernesto Huertas, he called Oliver "grotesque" and said that he should be more respectful.

Blog by Gabriela Torres

More from Trending:

How Vietnamese rap got political

Espionage case puts metadata on trial

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

All our stories are at

Should Stewart and Williams swap jobs?

Jon Stewart addresses the Brian Williams scandal on his show on 9 February 2015

As Jon Stewart, the host of Comedy Central's The Daily Show, announces he will step down later this year, thousands of people on social media have offered helpful suggestions to revitalise his programme.

News anchor Brian Williams is off the air for six months for making things up. Jon Stewart, a funny man with a serious side, is looking for a change after 16 years at the helm of The Daily Show. These are two entirely separate stories, but on social media they blended quickly into one theme with many proposing an elegant solution to both problems - just switch jobs.

Both men made the news around the same time. On Monday, NBC announced that Williams would be suspended for six months without pay. The long-serving news anchor had admitted to "misremembering" his involvement in the downing of a US helicopter during the Iraq War in 2003, and giving a misleading account of coming under fire. The same day, comedian and Daily Show host Jon Stewart surprised his studio audience, saying he was moving off the satirical show.

"When God closes a door he opens a window, right?" said one Twitter user, echoing many others. "Maybe #BrianWilliams should take over for Jon Stewart on the @TheDailyShow?"

The jokes of social media are, in fact, now leading to serious debate. New York Times reporter Lydia Polgreen and others see some validity to the swap. "The funny thing about the joke that Jon Stewart is replacing Brian Williams is that it's actually a good idea," she said.

Jon Stewart interviews US President Barrack Obama in 2010 Jon Stewart is sometimes seen as a newsman, interviewing world leaders like US President Barack Obama
Amy Poehler and Brian Williams prepare for skit on Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update Brian Williams has frequently appeared on NBC's entertainment programmes including Saturday Night Live
NBC News anchor Brian Williams (left) is interviewed by Daily Show host Jon Stewart in 2008 Brian Williams and Jon Stewart are good friends

At the heart of this conversation is the blurring between news and entertainment. Stewart has long been seen as more than just a comedian. Many young people get their news primarily from Stewart - not traditional newscasters like Williams - and Stewart has long championed highbrow causes such as greater civility in politics. In 2009, Time Magazine commissioned a poll that found 44% of percent of Americans thought Stewart was the country's most trusted news personality. Long before his current truth troubles, Williams claimed the second spot with 29%. And sometimes - most recently with the Eric Garner case and Charlie Hebdo killings - Stewart has dropped his comedy routine altogether in favour of sober commentary.

On the flip side, Williams has always been attracted to the showbiz side of the news. He has been a frequent guest on late night talk shows and appeared on Saturday Night Live, mugging for the camera during Weekend Update skits. He is the star of viral videos where he raps and sings "slow jams". Williams was reportedly even interested in taking over for Jay Leno when NBC was looking to replace the Tonight Show host.

John Stewart

Many commentators have said that demands on Williams to be more marketable and entertaining may have contributed to his current troubles. Stewart made a similar point when he lampooned Williams - a personal friend - on his show on Monday. During the bit, Stewart joked that Williams had "infotainment confusion syndrome", and it is a diagnosis that most of America shares.

Next story: How Vietnamese rap got political

Follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending. All our stories are at

How North Carolina murders sparked global outrage

"No national media coverage" says tweet, showing pictures of shooting victims Thousands of people online shared images of the victims and expressed anger with media coverage

Was the murder of three students in the US given enough media coverage?

Three young students in the college town of Chapel Hill in North Carolina were shot dead on Tuesday. According to reports, the victims were students at nearby universities, from Muslim faith backgrounds and were related to each other - 23-year-old Deah Shaddy Barakat, his wife, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19. A man named Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, has been arrested in connection with the case. He has expressed atheist views on Facebook, according to reports.

Initially few further details were known about the case. In a statement on Wednesday, Chapel Hill Police said an ongoing parking dispute apparently led to the shooting, a theory which has been rejected by the father of the Abu-Salha sisters. Dr. Mohammad Abu-Salha is reported to have said the incident was not parking related and described it as a "hate crime".

Activists online have accused major media outlets of failing to adequately cover the shootings.

The hashtag #ChapelHillShooting has been used more than 900,000 times and was trending not only in the US but also in the UK, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and several other Middle Eastern countries. An Arabic hashtag, which translates as 'Chapel Hill Massacre', was also trending with almost 33,000 tweets.

The tag seems to have been started by Abed A. Ayoub, the legal and policy director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. "Please keep the family of the victims in #ChapelHill in your thoughts and prayers. Senseless violence," was the first tweet. As the tag spread, he and other users began to put forward the argument that the faith of the victims was limiting coverage of the case. "Why hasn't anyone called the #ChapelHillShooting an act of terrorism? Are the victims the wrong religion?" he later tweeted.

Meanwhile the hashtag #MuslimLivesMatter was mentioned almost 100,000 times in the day following the shooting. One of the earliest users of the hashtag was Vicki Walden, a woman from Missouri who describes herself as "#WhitePrivilege standing in solidarity for the #BlackLivesMatter movement."

"Muslims only newsworthy when behind a gun. Not in front [of] it," one typical tweet read.

The case has now been covered by both local and international media.

More from Trending:

How Vietnamese rap got political

Espionage case puts metadata on trial

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

All our stories are at

How Vietnamese rap got political

Vietnam is a communist state where it's not always easy to criticise the government.

But a young Vietnamese rapper studying in the United States has launched a scathing criticism of the state using rap music. With more than 200,000 views on YouTube, it has struck a chord back home.

Video journalist: Greg Brosnan

Watch more videos on our YouTube channel or follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending. All our stories are at

Espionage case puts metadata on trial

The US crackdown on whistleblowers has free speech activists concerned

Call it guilt by metadata.

When a Washington, DC, area jury convicted Jeffrey Sterling of multiple counts of espionage, the smoking gun wasn't a key bit of classified information found in the former CIA officer's possession; it was a trail of phone calls and emails of unknown content.

The information about where those calls and emails went, however - to a New York Times journalist - was enough to convince a jury to send Sterling to prison for up to 80 years.

According to the US Justice Department, Sterling was providing national security reporter James Risen with details of a failed CIA attempt to undermine Iran's nuclear programme by having a Russian scientist code-named Merlin pass along intentionally flawed blueprints. Risen then exposed the operation in his 2005 book, State of War.

Sterling's motivation, prosecutors said, was to get revenge on his employer after he had unsuccessfully sued it for discriminating against him as one of the agency's only black officers.

"The defendant's unauthorised disclosures of classified information compromised operations undertaken in defence of America's national security," Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement after the verdict was announced. "The disclosures placed lives at risk."

Some free speech advocates who covered the case warn that while Risen has become a cause celebre among journalists, Sterling's prosecution and conviction - which received much less coverage - could have a chilling effect on the willingness of government whistleblowers to share what they know.

The CIA, they say, sought to punish Sterling in part because he had told a Senate Intelligence Committee about his concerns with Merlin in 2003. Senate staffers, Sterling's defence attorneys insisted, could have just as easily been the source of Risen's reporting.

Author James Risen The government has evidence that James Risen and Jeffrey Sterling communicated

The government constructed a case based purely on circumstantial evidence, according to Marcy Wheeler, a freelance reporter who covered the trial. She says this has set a dangerous precedent for free speech rights in the US.

Sterling's conviction means the government can convict leakers without proving they revealed actual classified information. Instead, she contends, they only need to show that a leak allowed a journalist to unearth national security secrets at some later date.

"Sterling was convicted for the most part entirely on phone and email records with no content attached," she says. "There was no guarantee that it had to do with classified information."

Vague hints and insinuations are part and parcel of the Washington trade in information, Wheeler says, as reporters with stories to write and government officials with agendas to drive engage in a symbiotic relationship in the corridors of power.

A prime example is the famous episode in Richard Nixon's Watergate scandal, where a high-place source (Mark Felt, aka "Deep Throat) told Washington Post reporters to "follow the money" without providing specific details of the president's wrongdoing.

Now, Wheeler says, the Justice Department has received "de facto approval" to expand the reach of the Espionage Act - a World War 1 era law meant to target spies who help foreign governments - to include non-secret tips to reporters.

Sterling's case, says Norman Solomon of the Institute for Public Accuracy, is part of a larger effort by US President Barack Obama's administration to crack down on government employees who provide reporters with access to national security information without authorisation.

There have been eight such prosecutions so far - compared to only three in previous administrations. Sterling was the first to go to a jury trial, however. Six others reached plea bargains, and the seventh - Chelsea Manning, who gave diplomatic documents to Wikileaks - was convicted by court martial.

President Barack Obama. President Barack Obama has stepped up prosecution of government leakers

One of those who reached a plea bargain was John C Kirakaou. The first CIA officer charged with leaking information to the media, he was released on Monday after serving two years prison. He says he was singled out by the government because he exposed the agency's use of waterboarding during interrogations.

"My case was about torture," he told the New York Times. "The CIA never forgave me for talking about torture."

That the government is not only watching but aggressively cracking down on national security leakers, has forced reporters to be increasingly careful about how and when they contact potential sources. According to a recent Pew Research Center study, 64% of investigative journalists believe the US government "probably collected data about their communications".

Some media outlets are taking extra measures not only to secure their reporters' data but to provide a safe means for potential government whistleblowers to reach out to them. The Intercept, which has published and analysed extensive excerpts of documents provided by National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, is one of around a dozen media outlets that allow new sources to send files anonymously via a open-source service called SecureDrop.

"I think that awareness is growing," says Micah Lee, who helped set up and oversees the Intercept's security systems. "It used to be that journalists and people in general didn't really consider a lot of things. They just assumed that if they were having a phone conversation with a source and didn't tell anyone about that conversation, that meant that it was a secret. But you know, really it's not secret."

According to Solomon, the fact that journalists now have to take such extensive precautions is a reflection of a government that is becoming increasingly undemocratic.

"The flow of information in the national security arena is in lockdown under the Obama administration," Solomon says. "Democracy requires the informed consent of the governed. A clear aim of this administration is to have the uninformed consent of the governed."

The Sterling episode is another post-9/11 case of security versus freedom, Wheeler says, and once again the perceived interests of security are coming out on top.

"Throughout the trial there was this whole pretence that the government knows what's best for us, and anybody who would question it is at the very least interfering with security of the country," she says.

Sterling will be sentenced in April, although his lawyer tells the BBC that an appeal is in the works.

Blog by Anthony Zurcher

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

All our stories are at

The case for a non-white Spider-Man

Miles Morales is alternative version of Marvel Comics' Spider-Man The look of Miles Morales was inspired by US President Barack Obama and actor Donald Glover

Spider-Man will soon be joining the likes of Iron Man and Captain America in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but will the man underneath the mask be black or white?

Here's how thousands of social media users have reacted to news of a deal between Sony Pictures and Walt Disney that means Spiderman may now be in an Avengers movie: they've begun a debate about Spidey's race. So far there have been two big-screen iterations of Spiderman swinging through New York, and in both of them Spidey's alter-ego has been the lily-white Peter Parker. But now, some comic books fans online now say it is time for a different webslinger to take over - specifically they want a teenager named Miles Morales.

The Morales character has a Hispanic and black background, and has been featured in the comic book version since 2011. Morales took over when Peter Parker died in the Ultimate line of comics, and his looks were based on US President Barack Obama and actor Donald Glover.

So will the new film incarnation of Spider-Man follow suit? Over the past 24 hours, around 5,000 people used Miles Morales' name on Twitter and a hashtag of his name seems to have been briefly trending. On Tuesday, #donaldforspiderman - a reference to the possiblity of Glover playing Morales in a movie version - also got a boost with more than 3,000 tweets. However, many more people online were discussing Peter Parker and the most recent Spidey actor, Andrew Garfield.

"I would be so excited to see #MilesMorales Spider-Man on the big screen!" said one fan. "MCU [Marvel Comic Universe] definitely has enough white guys."

Heroes from minority backgrounds have been rare in the comics world. Most of the ones featured actually have the word "black" as part of their alter egos (Black Lighting and Black Panther, among others). And so when Morales came along, he was seen as a breakthrough by many - an A-list non-white character with critically acclaimed stories and a sizeable fan base.

Miles Morales' Spider-Man has become a breakout star in the Ultimate line of Marvel Comics Miles Morales' Spider-Man has become a breakout star in the Ultimate line of Marvel Comics

So will the new Spidey be black or white? Although Spider-Man will likely return as Peter Parker's alter ego - Sony mentioned him by name in their news release on Monday - Marvel was silent on the subject, giving Morales fans some hope.

More generally, Hollywood is opening up when it comes casting its comic book characters. The dark-skinned, bald Samuel L. Jackson is now synonymous with Nick Fury even though the comic book character has been a white man with salt-and-pepper hair for decades. And this summer a new film version of The Fantastic Four will feature African-American actor Michael B. Jordan as the Human Torch - a role once held by the blond, blue eyed Chris Evans.

Blog by Tim Swift

More from Trending:

"Money like rice" - Egypt president allegedly attacks Gulf wealth

Fallen leader: Mugabe mocked after tumble

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

All our stories are at

Egypt's president allegedly mocks Gulf wealth

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi speaks to Dubai's ruler, Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashed al-Maktoum at the opening of the World Future Energy Summit in Dubai President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Dubai's ruler, Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashed al-Maktoum

Asking for money is a delicate matter, so when an alleged audio recording of Egypt's president mocking oil-rich Arab states was leaked while he was doing exactly that, the chatter online was anything but kind.

The Arabic hashtag "Al-Sisi despises the Gulf" in Arabic became a trend with more than 1m tweets in just two days and the alleged leaked audio - uploaded on a pro-Islamist Turkish TV channel's YouTube channel - has been listened to hundreds of thousands of times.

The authenticity of the audio could not be confirmed and while the president's office did not react to the story, the Egyptian Prime Minister denounced the allegations as "lies."

While many online voiced their concerns over the future of relations between Egypt and some of its biggest benefactors, other Arab tweeters called on their governments to stop funding Egypt's Al-Sisi as they deemed the overall tone of the recording "disrespectful" and "ungrateful."

The alleged recording is a year old and dates from the time when Al-Sisi was Egypt's defence minister. On the recording, he's heard telling his office director to ask the Saudis for "10 [billion dollars] to be deposited in the army's account." He also asks for the same amount again from both Kuwait and UAE. When his office director responds with laughter, El Sisi says "So what? They have money like rice." In other words - they're rolling in cash.

So how did Saudis respond? Well, with jokes, and - you guessed it - many pictures of small white grains. A sarcastic hashtag that translates to "They have money like rice" went big in Saudi with over 300,000 tweets.

"This is a picture of a [Saudi] bank" "This is a picture of a [Saudi] bank"
"Anyone want anything from the grocery store? #TheyhaveMoneyLikeRice" "Anyone want anything from the grocery store?"
"A picture of a Saudi man with his money" "A picture of a Saudi man with his money"
"Money laundering" "Money laundering"

Even a France24 journalist joined in the joking: "It seems that the unified currency of the Gulf states is rice ;-)"

The alleged leak has yet to affect Egypt's standing among rulers in the region - Saudi King Salman said that "Saudi's position towards Egypt and its stability and security is firm and will not change," according to the state news agency.

Blog by Mai Noman

More from Trending:

Just joking? The Indian comedians under investigation

Fallen leader: Mugabe mocked after tumble

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

All our stories are at

Trends of the week - in 60 seconds

Why did a four-year old tweet written by Japanese hostage Kenji Goto go viral?

And how did the internet react when Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe fell over? Those and other trends of the week in 60 seconds.

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

Produced by Estelle Doyle

Video and picture credits: Getty, AP, Madison Tevlin

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.

The satirist who mocks Iran's ayatollahs

Ayatollah Tanasoli's Facebook page

What Iranian would dare mock his country's religious leaders online?

He runs a Facebook and Twitter account in Persian using a fictional character to parody the religious politics of Iran's imams and mullahs. BBC Trending spoke to the man behind Ayatollah Tanasoli - which can be translated as "Ayatollah Genitals" or "Ayatollah Penis."

Tanasoli has 20,000 likes on Facebook and 7,000 followers on Twitter - not enormous numbers but significant for Iran, where many people are afraid of openly aligning themselves with scathing satire and criticism.

His persona is that of a ridiculous and hypocritical hard-liner who seems to completely lack self-awareness.

  • "We condemn any sort of violence, except for the violence we commit ourselves."
  • "If they had Islamic democracy in France, just like ours, those cartoonists wouldn't have been assassinated; they would have been hanged ten years earlier."
  • "Islam values women's rights, especially the rights of those women who give birth to male children."

It's broad-brush satire and Tanasoli says he gets into debates with government supporters and also ordinary Iranians who object to his humour. He wouldn't reveal his real identity or location (inside Iran or outside), so we have not been able to verify who he is. But he did tell us that he's in his 30s and employed. BBC Trending asked him a few questions on our weekly radio programme and an edited version of the transcript is below:

Why did you first start the Ayatollah Tanasoli accounts?

It's mandatory for Iranian boys to go to military service after they graduate from high school or college and, basically, you don't have any training, they just want to keep you there but they don't know how to fill your time so they bring in all these mullahs to talk to you. They just gather you in these mosques and soldiers just sit there every day for like a couple of hours so. It's a brainwash process. The stuff they say about the West, the internet, satellites and all this, is so absurd and crazy that it just makes you laugh. And it's really easy to make fun of so that's what I did during my breaks in the army. I created this character, people would come to me and they'd say 'give us a sermon, give us a speech' and I would just go on and imitate being a mullah, and that mullah became very popular. So I thought that maybe I could bring it to social media.

Your avatar is an image of a mullah with one eye?

Yes that image is actually a real Ayatollah from the revolution in 1906, and I just put one eye instead of two because he only sees things his own way - they know everything and everything they know is right and you don't question it.

Can you give us an example of something you've tweeted quite recently?

I just tweeted something about the 1979 revolution, and I told them that this is what people deserve. I said that "In 1979, people got what they deserved." It has two meanings. First it means that people fought for the revolution but at the same time it means that what happened was a punishment. And people really liked that and started retweeting it…

How many times?

Seventeen times - which is a big number because in Iran people are scared to retweet.

Are your followers in Iran?

Some of them are and some of them are not. Let me give you what has happened in the past two years in social media. At the beginning, people trusted each other and they found friends through Twitter and started creating groups - you know, it was like a gang. But eventually the government managed to infiltrate the groups. That's when it became very dangerous and I decided to create a [fictional] character. I don't usually answer people or do direct messages. I block anybody that I feel is not safe, anybody who leaves a comment I don't like I block - I just think it's safer that way.

BBC Trending radio

Hear Ayatollah Tanasoli and many other stories 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.

On your feed you are mocking religious leaders and are against the government. Are you not worried for yourself?

I am worried. Everybody is worried.

And are you worried that some of your tweets are going to upset other Muslims?

That's my intention. I want them to be upset. Not because I want to upset them to take revenge or anything - I want them to think.

What response do you get?

I don't want to brag but I get a lot, a crazy amount of feedback from people. Like on Facebook everyday I get more than 5 or 6 emails from people who are old, like 60 or 70 - or far from Iran - and they all say 'we love what you're doing'. I realised that a lot of people are thinking like me.

Have you received any negative reaction or any threats, or official threats?

Oh yes, especially on Facebook. I get a lot of email contact, a lot of them at first contacted me and said, ok you're good let's become partners, give us your address, things like that. I told them no, I'm not doing that. And then they offered me money and I said no I'm not selling my page. And then they started harassing me - sending me emails, very threatening, "we'll kill you, we'll find you." They just want to make you scared. They say "We know where you are and your mother is a whore and your sister is a whore and we'll find you and we will rape them and we will kill you." And things like that to make you scared. But I know they're lying.

And do you think they're from the government?

Most of them are because I go back and I check their profiles- and I know about fake profiles. (laughs)

One Iranian Facebook user - Soheil Arabi - is currently in prison in Tehran where he's been for the last year. He's now been charged with insulting the prophet Mohammed - which carries the death penalty. Have people been supporting him online?

No. Because people who are inside Iran, people who are active on the internet, they're very scared. They don't want to associate with him.

Do you think you'll see a day when you can reveal your identity?

I truly hope so. I'm not doing this to be famous or anything, I know that if I was in any other place because of the humour I would probably at least be paid as a writer. And yeah I hope someday people can be who they are, who they want to be and say what they want to say.

Interview by India Rakusen

More from Trending:

Just joking? The Indian comedians under investigation

Fallen leader: Mugabe mocked after tumble

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

All our stories are at

A falling leader, Kid President and more: #BBCTrending's videos of the week

Did you miss out on some of the big trends this week? How many of the following did you spot?

On our blog this week:

Is Jordan's Abdullah really a modern-day warrior king?

'Just joking!' - the Indian comics under investigation

McDonald's Facebook campaign enrages Mexican tamale fans

Is the German anti-Islamist Pegida movement really spreading?

And the best of BBC Trending's video selection...

Kid President wants to help make the world more awesome. That's why the 11-year-old YouTube star says he makes his videos. Robby Novak released his first video in 2012, and since then his videos have attracted a huge following thanks to the mix of humour and inspirational thinking.

Kid President's videos have over 75 million YouTube views

A video of a girl shouting at a man who she alleges groped her on a plane in India has been viewed more than 5m times on YouTube. In the video the man apologises while holding his head in his hands, but does not explain what he's apologising for. But is it fair to expose the accused on social media before any sort of criminal trial or investigation? The accused man told an Indian newspaper that he was framed and that he was confident that an investigation would exonerate him.

When Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe stumbled at an event in the capital Harare, security personnel rushed to his side. They're also reported to have asked photographers to delete the images of the 90-year-old leader falling. Internet users have responded by posting parody pictures of Mugabe in different scenarios - including surfing and dancing - and by using the hashtag #MugabeFalls.

A Canadian teenager who was born with Down's syndrome has become a hit on YouTube after recording a cover version of a John Legend song. Madison Tevlin's rendition of "All of Me" has been watched almost 5 million times and has been described as "inspirational" and "amazing." But it has also attracted criticism.

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

All our stories are at

Why Argentines mourned the death of a hateful fictional character

Dra Alcira Pignata's Twitter profile picture Any resemblance to anyone?

She was rude, fascist and utterly implacable, and yet her "death" stormed social media in Argentina.

Dr Alcira Pignata, a 64-year-old who on her profile looked incredibly similar to former US General Attorney Janet Reno - she always assured followers that it was her actual picture - announced her "death" after listening President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner on national TV.

"That's it, I let myself die. I close the account. It is over. They win," was her final tweet.

Thousands tweeted her back, begging her not to "die". Many couldn't believe the news, while others decided sarcasm was the best answer. "Hashtags at half-staff if Pignata's death is confirmed," joked cartoonist Bernardo Erlich on his twitter account.

Dr Pignata was a fictional Twitter character created by an anonymous person in 2010 and over the years Argentineans have grown quite fond of her - she had more than 186,000 followers. Right-wingers liked her frank talk, and left-wingers liked to laugh at an exaggeration of an extreme conservative.

"The biggest banknote in our country is worth US$10. We are Mozambique," Dr Pignata tweeted. "It took three days to realise that there was another door into Nisman's apartment. We deserve a thousand years of Kirchnerism," she recently commented after the announcement of the mysterious death of prosecutor Alberto Nisman.

Shared image on twitter "The statue to commemorate Dr Pignata is ready in Cordoba"

Pignata fought tirelessly for the return of a dictatorship and she constantly railed against gays, Muslims, black people and liberals, not to mention Peronism, the working-class political movement based on the legacy of former president Juan Domingo Peron.

She tapped into a frustration with politicians and for many, she became an unofficial opposition after presidential speeches. "Where is Dr Pignata? There is a public broadcast and I need her tweets to stand it," one fan wrote.

"She represents the stereotype of a vast group of Argentineans," said Ingrid Beck, editor of satire magazine Barcelona. "She is the wealthy fascist that mistreats people. We laugh a lot, but many of the things she says you can hear in real life from elderly upper-class women."

Is it really comedy? "I'd rather take her as parody than as a statement, otherwise I would not laugh," Beck said.

"There is a story behind her - a script, with episodes delivered on Twitter," Beck added. "I'm sure she'll come back, this is just another chapter."

Blog by Gabriela Torres

More from Trending:

Pegida in the UK: Don't believe the 'likes'

Scorn over 'overweight' obit for famous Australian writer

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending. All our stories are at

Is Jordan's Abdullah really a warrior-king?

King Abdullah of Jordan in military uniform The internet has been abuzz with false rumours that King Abdullah might personally take part in air strikes on IS

He's ex-special forces and he cuts a mean figure in his combats, but now the internet is turning Jordan's King Abdullah II into a warrior-king - a story only very loosely based on the facts.

King Abdullah promised a swift reaction to the killing of a pilot by Islamic State - Jordan bombed IS positions and executed two Iraqi prisoners.

The news cycle also highlighted the king's hands-on military background, and one of the most-shared images is a photo (shown above) posted on the official Royal Hashemite Court Facebook page. It has attracted about 5,000 likes - but is actually an old photo that was posted on the the royal court's official Instagram account eight months ago. American journalist Andy Carvin dug into the story in detail for and found that photo as well as others of the king in military garb were taken out of context and posted online this week.

On Reddit, commenters picked up on reported - but erroneous - claims that the king would personally take part in air-strikes on ISIS. Other Redditors countered with an accurate report knocking down the rumours - but as of writing, that thread was less than half as popular as the false story.

Elsewhere online, opponents of President Obama created memes unfavourably comparing him to the king. The president - who never served in the military - was shown golfing and working out, juxtaposed with the king's tough-looking snaps.

the king and the president
republican thinker

Most of the chatter about the king getting involved in battle has come from outside Jordan.

Meanwhile Arabic-speaking social media users have been sharing this image of Jordanian bombs with the words: "A gift from soldier colleagues of the martyr to the dogs of 'Daesh'". ("The martyr" is a reference to the pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh who was burned alive by IS, and Daesh is an Arabic acronym for the group, often used by IS opponents.) The photos appear to come from the Jordanian Armed Forces website.


Blog by Sitala Peek

More from Trending:

Just joking? The Indian comedians under investigation

Fallen leader: Mugabe mocked after tumble

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending. All our stories are at

Is it fair to 'shame' online?

A video of a girl shouting at a man who she alleges groped her on a plane in India has been viewed more than 5m times on YouTube.

In the video the man apologises while holding his head in his hands, but does not explain what he's apologising for.

The anonymous girl has been hailed as a hero by some in India, where the problem of sexual assault has been in the spotlight.

In a country where it is notoriously hard for women to prosecute those accused of sex assault, some would argue that online public shaming is the only route to justice.

But is it fair to expose the accused on social media before any sort of criminal trial or investigation? The accused man told an Indian newspaper that he was framed and that he was confident that an investigation would exonerate him.

BBC Trending talked to Shreyas Rao, who originally posted the video to YouTube after it was forwarded to him via messenger service WhatsApp. Rao says he wasn't out to get clicks or money - he hasn't put advertising on the video - and he says he posted it out of personal conviction.

More from Trending:

Just joking? The Indian comedians under investigation

Fallen leader: Mugabe mocked after tumble

Watch more videos on our YouTube channel or follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending. All our stories are at

Mugabe's tumble mocked in memes

When Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe stumbled at an event in the capital Harare, security personnel rushed to his side.

They're also reported to have asked photographers to delete the images of the 90-year-old leader falling.

Internet users have responded by posting parody pictures of Mugabe in different scenarios - including surfing and dancing - and by using the hashtag #MugabeFalls.

Click above for a selection.

Video Journalist: Anne-Marie Tomchak

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

All our stories are at

How did Chinese people take the Argentine president's mocking tweet?

Critina Fernandez's tweet 'More than 1,000 participants at the event ... Are they all from the Campola and in it only for the lice and petroleum?' - the garbled tweet that got Argentine president Cristina Kirchner in trouble

A recent tweet by Argentine president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner mocking a Chinese accent during an official visit to China sparked criticism worldwide. But what was the reaction inside China?

In her tweet, Kirchner replaced mimicked the difficulty many Chinese speakers have in pronouncing the letter "r" in Spanish and other foreign languages. The president replaced "r" with "l" in the message.

As soon as the Global Times, a popular nationalist newspaper in China, posted the story on Weibo it got hundreds of comments. "At least China has the Chinese language. It's a shame that your country don't have your own language," wrote one user. Other commented: "Spanish speaking people are no better in speaking English." And one asked Fernandez to pronounce "Buenos Aires" in Chinese.

Comment on Weibo

The reactions weren't overwhelming however, only numbering in the hundreds. Perhaps part of the reason why is because Chinese people don't have access to Twitter - social media is instead dominated by Chinese-only networks. Not Xiao Yueyue noted: "In fact, we are not angry, because… what is Twitter?" Others used the incident to criticise the Chinese government for banning the social media site. "By not opening doors to Twitter you miss the chance for the public to vent their wise counter-arguments," complained Primmm.

But about a third of commenters thought the whole issue was trivial. "No need to be angry with. Let's show our tolerance to it as a big nation," wrote Tangkeqing. And user Sen Wang said: "Don't be too sensitive. Aren't we Chinese often poking fun on the accents to our own folks in different regions?"

Minutes after Argentine president posted the comment - and over a thousand retweets later - Fernandez apologised with a new tweet. But she didn't sound too contrite. "Sorry. You know what? The levels of ridiculousness and absurdity are so high that they can only be digested with humour."

So far, the Chinese government hasn't reacted to the story.

Blog by Gabriela Torres

Translations and reporting by Zhuang Chen, BBC Chinese

More from Trending:

'They're just jokes' say Indian comedians under investigation

The millions who tweeted for Moaz

The 'inspirational' teen singer with Down's syndrome

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending. All our stories are at

The 'inspirational' teen singer with Down's syndrome

A Canadian teenager who was born with Down's syndrome has become a hit on YouTube after recording a cover version of a John Legend song.

Madison Tevlin's rendition of "All of Me" has been watched almost 5 million times and has been described as "inspirational" and "amazing." But it has also attracted criticism.

Reporter: Anne-Marie Tomchak

Video journalist: Neil Meads

For more videos subscribe to BBC Trending's YouTube channel.

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending. All our stories are at

'They’re just jokes' say Indian comedians under investigation

Deepika Padukone, one of the actresses under fire for attending the AIB "roast" Deepika Padukone, one of the actresses under fire for attending the AIB "roast"

Updated 5 Feb 1205 GMT with news of online petition and union's statement

YouTube comedians in India have defended themselves after authorities said they would launch a probe into whether their humour was "abusive."

What is it okay to say in Indian culture? That question is at the heart of a social media confrontation gripping India. On one side, AIB, a group of young performers who describe themselves as "India's edgiest comedy collective." On the other, conservative Hindu groups who have complained to the Maharashtra State Government.

AIB has around 900,000 YouTube subscribers for its videos which send up various aspects of Indian culture and politics. Their growing following means we have featured them before on this blog - with this alternative take on India's election, for example. Their latest venture was a three-part series called the "AIB Knockout." They brought a roster of top Bollywood stars in front of an audience and "roasted" them - in other words, taunted them with highly personal jokes and insults, including graphic references to the stars' sex lives. It's a format familiar in the West, but it seemed sure to shock in conservative India.

And shock it did. The video not only got 8m views, it attracted complaints for its "vulgar" humour with sexual references, and for being against Indian values. In Maharashtra, the state where Mumbai is located, a local Hindu nationalist party called AIB's language "abusive and filthy." The hashtag #AIBNationalShame began to trend, with comments such as "Hilarious !!?? Really ?? Is vulgarity n abusive language necessary for charity ?! Or to show how open we r !!" and "Bollywood showed one thing today that Bollywood will remain a gutter!" The state's Department of Culture said it would investigate the "vulgarity," although the relevant Minister later tweeted that they weren't allowed to do "moral policing" and could only check if the comedians had a licence.

The main film industry union, the Federation of Western India Cine Employees also waded into the dispute, and demanded apologies from the actors that participated in the video.

In light of the complaints, the comedians themselves decided to take drastic action - and took the video down from YouTube. Although they are not granting media interviews, AIB posted a long response online which makes clear that for them, this is a struggle over Indian culture and free speech.

"Over the last few days, we've found ourselves subject to more scrutiny, judgment and opinion than we're worth," they wrote. "This Knockout shouldn't matter. In a secure culture it wouldn't matter."

They make clear that there were age and content warnings on the video. "To everyone who's called us seditious pornographers while plotting the downfall of Indian Values And Civilization As We Know It, we would like to reiterate that we are just a bunch of comedians who work, and have always worked, without any malicious intent whatsoever," they said. However they didn't go into detail about why they took the video down.

On social media, there has been a rally of support for the comedians under the term "We Stand By AIB Knockout." More than 25,000 people have signed an online petition in defence of the group.

"The real issue here is not about some celebs made some jokes & some people got offended. It is about moral policing.. We Stand By AIB Knockout," wrote one tweeter. There has also been a new video in response posted by Indian YouTubers The Viral Fever, which has been trending all day under the hashtag #NoCountryForFunnyMen.

  • AIB has 900,000 YouTube subscribers
  • The video was watched 8m times before being removed

Prominent Indian tweeter @GabbbarSingh has been commenting on the issue on his Twitter feed, and he told BBC Trending that the removal of the video was a "pragmatic move."

"When there is a backlash from people who sound like they have a lot of free time and muscle power, it's natural to care about their own security and their loved ones. Had I been in AIB's shoes, I would have probably taken a similar step," he said.

Leading Bollywood actresses Deepika Padukone, Sonakshi Sinha and Alia Bhatt came under fire for attending the event. One tweet read "#DeepikaPadukone Could u explain AIB show. It is so sad that role models of millions were participated in it."

AIB Knockout

Blog by Mukul Devichand and Ravin Sampat

More from Trending:

Pegida in the UK: Don't believe the 'likes'

Scorn over 'overweight' obit for famous Australian writer

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending. All our stories are at

The millions who tweeted for Moaz

Activists carry posters with a portrait of the Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kassasbeh

Before and after news of his apparent murder, there were at least 15 separate hashtags about the Jordanian pilot captured by Islamic State (IS). But what are people saying?

Two days ago on 2 February, the world had not yet learned about the death of Moaz al-Kasasbeh, the captive Jordanian pilot who has now apparently been violently killed by Islamic State. But solidarity for him was already going global on social media. The prominent Brazilian author Paulo Coelho asked on Twitter why people were not expressing support for the kidnapped pilot, in the same way that millions were showing support for the victims of the attack on Charlie Hebdo.

Paulo Coelho tweet

But support for Moaz (people online are using his first name)was already there, at least in Arabic. A hashtag that translates to "We Are All Moaz" has been used almost half a million times, mostly from Jordan, since the pilot was taken hostage by IS back in December. And throughout his time in captivity people tweeted to remind others about Moaz.

Then on Tuesday, after IS released a video allegedly showing Moaz (also spelled as Muath) burning alive in a cage, Arabic social media timelines were flooded with statements of rage and vengeance. Hashtags that translate to "Moaz the hero", "Moaz the martyr" and "the Jordanian response is coming" have accompanied messages of condolence and prayer to his family. Some Jordianians online vowed to retaliate for his death.

Outside the Arab world, social media statements varied between anger and a few trying to disassociate Islamic State's ideology and actions from the Islamic faith. The response in English mostly came under #IAmMuath, popularised by Paulo Coelho and now tweeted 58,000 times, and and #isis_are_not_muslims mentioned 65,000 times.

tweet about Jordan being in war.

Now that Jordan has responded to Islamic State with two executions of its own, the focus of the conversation has shifted towards Sajida al-Rishawi, a female jihadist among those put to death. Jordan had previously agreed to swap Rishawi for Moaz and two other hostages. While a few Jordanians expressed happiness at her death, many say Jordan will now need to play a bigger role in the fight against the radical group.

Blog by Mai Noman

Next story: McDonalds Facebook campaign enrages Mexicans

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending.

All our stories are at

McDonald's Facebook campaign enrages Mexican tamale fans

"Tamales are from the past"

We have seen it before - if there is one thing people should think twice about, it is messing with popular food.

It happened to Jamie Oliver when he launched his version of the West African classic and it is happening now with McDonald's and Mexican tamales.

This week the fast food chain decided to launch a Facebook campaign urging Mexicans to leave their beloved tamales in the past and embrace McBurritos instead. Predictably, it backfired.

"How dare you insult a beautiful tradition. I'd rather eat tamales than your disgusting food," Damian Bracho commented.

The image of a McBurrito, a sort of scrambled egg in a tortilla wrap, accompanied by the slogan "Tamales are a thing from the past", was soon removed from the company's Facebook page.

About 650 tweets targeted McDonald's account in this vein: "Don't mess with tamales because #YaMeCanse [I am tired]," wrote one user. "Lack of sensitivity by McDonald's Mexico for a country's tradition, terrible marketing taste," another user, Javier Hidalgo, said. Others shared images of tamales and other food.

Tamale fan @FcoEVillaZapata shared this photo of the traditional dish Tamale fan Villa Zapata Fco Emi shared this photo of the traditional dish
Francisco Guerrero asked why one of the chain's hamburgers was small compared to the size of the bun. Francisco Guerrero asked why one of the chain's hamburgers was small compared to the size of the bun.

Within hours, McDonald's got the message. It not only took down the offending image but it also published a statement apologising for the campaign. "McDonald's respects the traditions and beliefs of all countries where we have the opportunity to do business. That is why on our menus we include local dishes (…) we apologise to all of the people who felt offended by our post, which was removed from all of our social media sites." We've asked them for further comment - and we'll let you know if we hear back."

More from Trending:

Pegida in the UK: Don't believe the 'likes'

Scorn over 'overweight' obit for famous Australian writer

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending. All our stories are at

Pegida in the UK: Don't believe the 'likes'

A Pegida demonstration in Vienna only attracted a few hundred supporters A Pegida demonstration in Vienna only attracted a few hundred supporters on Monday

It can seem like Germany's "anti-Islamisation" movement, Pegida, has a growing following in the UK and other European countries since the Paris attacks - especially if you believe what you see on Facebook. But does it really?

It's a movement with its origins in social media. Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West - known by the German acronym Pegida - began on Facebook before a series of demonstrations in the east German city of Dresden got international attention. The group wants tougher immigration laws and restrictions on asylum-seekers. Critics say it's anti-Muslim and counts fascists among its supporters.

Since the Charlie Hebdo attacks, dozens of Pegida chapters have popped up online, prompting some reports that the group is establishing a bigger presence across Europe - in France, Norway, Sweden, Belgium, Spain, the UK and other countries where local Pegida Facebook pages have sprung up.

The Pegida UK Facebook page has been "liked" more than 12,000 times. The page was started very shortly before the Charlie Hebdo attacks, so most of those likes came after the events in Paris. But BBC Trending analysis shows these clicks aren't predominantly from the UK. We used analytics platforms to break down Pegida's Facebook activity by geography. Only about half of those liking the Pegida UK Facebook page are actually living in Britain - with a sizeable chunk of the page's support coming from Germany.

It is German internet users who are also driving the growth of Pegida Facebook pages in other countries, according to PEGIDA#watch, a group of left-wing activists who monitor Pegida's online activity. PEGIDA#watch says supporters in east Germany often like multiple other Pegida groups and create fake profiles to boost numbers.

Pegida UK Facebook page Pegida UK's Facebook page has 12,000 likes - but most of those are from outside the UK

BBC Trending spoke to a Pegida UK leader who goes by the name "David". We contacted him using the Facebook page but have not been able to verify his identity. He says the leaders of the groups are trying to remain anonymous until an official spokesperson is chosen. David told Trending that he is of German-Swiss background but is based in the UK and that most of the Pegida UK leadership - which currently numbers about 20 members - is British. He said the group doesn't create fake Facebook profiles, but did acknowledge that many people liking the group were not living in the UK.

"Of course there are a lot of Germans on there... Germans are enthusiastic because it is their movement and they comment a lot," he said. But he claims that actual British based people are now interested too. "Most of the people who are now liking the page in the past few weeks are British," he said.

Of course Facebook likes alone do not add up to a political movement. There have been relatively small street protests by Pegida chapters in a few European countries including Denmark, Norway and the Czech Republic. The first Pegida UK march is planned for later this month in Newcastle. Why Newcastle? "It's a very British city: there are not as many left-wingers and Muslims as in London and Birmingham," David said. "We don't have any problem with counter-demonstrations. We're not going to fight anybody and I hope they respect us."

As we have reported before, Britain has its own right-wing extremists on Facebook. "A problem is that a lot of far-right movements are trying to hijack the Pegida groups," David said. It appears that members of the English Defence League were among those who initially tried to take control of the Pegida UK Facebook page.

The Pegida UK page includes a number of racist and offensive comments, some advocating widespread violence - which is why we're not linking to it - and David said that while such comments were against the group's policies, leaders have not yet had the time to moderate the page.

Facebook likes aside, Pegida's growth has been hit by various setbacks recently. Even within Germany, Pegida demonstrations outside Dresden have been sparsely attended. Data collected about Germany by the British anti-racism group Hope Not Hate indicate that group's marches have only attracted significant numbers in a handful of cities, and in most places the number of counter-demonstrators has far outweighed the Pegida marchers. Inside Germany, five Pegida leaders resigned after photos emerged of founder Lutz Bachmann dressed as Adolf Hitler. The group held its first march in Austria on Monday - but only attracted a few hundred supporters.

Blog by Mike Wendling

More from Trending:

Who is the mysterious donor giving thousands to gamers?

Scorn over 'overweight' obit for famous Australian writer

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending. All our stories are at

Who is Kid President?

Kid President's videos have over 75 million YouTube views

Kid President wants to help make the world more awesome. That's why the 11-year-old YouTube star says he makes his videos.

Robby Novak released his first video in 2012, and since then his videos have attracted a huge following thanks to the mix of humour and inspirational thinking.

"Something that somebody can do to be awesome is treat people like it's their birthday every day," he says.

Bits of wisdom like this are the result of collaboration between Robby and his brother-in-law, Brad Montague, who came up with the idea for the series.

"Robby and I have always made stuff together as a family and Kid President grew out of this project we were wanting to do to help position kids as leaders," Brad says.

Their latest project is a book called Kid President's Guide to Being Awesome. It's a mix of stories from Kid President's videos and adventures from the past couple of years, along with cartoons, conversations between Robby and Brad, and tips for how they think kids can help make the world a better place.

Kid President has interviewed celebrities - he kissed Beyonce - and has even met with the real president of the United States in the Oval Office. But most of his videos are still filmed in Brad's house in Henderson, Tennessee. Robby stands in front of a cardboard sign with a homemade presidential seal drawn onto it, leaning against a desk that is actually a record player they found on the street.

"We never imagined that from this small town we would be able to reach the millions we have, and we're grateful for that," Brad says.

He coaches Robby through the process, sometimes asking questions and sometimes feeding him lines to deliver to the camera, which Robby takes and modifies into his own voice. And sometimes he takes impromptu dance breaks.

"Generally I ruin a lot of the videos that we make because I'm just laughing behind the scenes. So they have to be heavily edited for that," Brad said.

Kid President filming

Robby has Osteogenesis imperfecta, a genetic conditions that means that his bones break easily. He has had several major surgeries, over 70 broken bones, and has rods in both of his legs. But he still says he wants to be a basketball or soccer player when he grows up. Robby loves to dance, and he wants to give the world a reason to dance with him.

"I don't stop even when I'm broken," Robby says. "I'm still smiling, and I want people to still be happy even when they're hurting."

Kid President's videos have over 75 million views on YouTube, including almost 35 million for his breakout video "A Pep Talk from Kid President to You."

Brad says that video was his version of the US president's State of the Union Address.

"Robby is somebody who inspires me and encourages me so I kind of wrote that pep talk as almost a letter to him like this is what I see in you," he said. "For him to read that back to me and to add his own flourishes really brought it to life."

BBC Trending went to Brad's house in Tennessee to see how Kid President came to be.

Blog by Ashley Semler

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending. All our stories are at

These hardcore tweeters are still marking each day with 'Page X'


Last month on BBC Trending we wrote about the odd trend of social media users comparing each day of 2015 to the pages of a book.

As predicted the numbers dropped off as precipitously as New Year's resolutions - from nearly half a million on 1 Jan to fewer than 1,000 on Page 33 (that would be 2 Feb).

So who are the people drip-tweeting inconsequential thoughts, daily activities and inspirational messages?

sleeping and not tweeting

We contacted a few and asked them why they're still turning the page.

"There is a lot of negativity in our daily lives," said Chelsi Schoeppey of Arkansas. "I thinks it's nice to have at least 1 daily dose of positivity."

"Tomorrows page isn't guaranteed," said Mike Kane.

Most of the people we spoke to planned to carry on for the rest of the year, although Atikah from Malaysia said she doesn't mark every page: "Only when I'm outside hanging out with my family and friends."

We admit, we were a bit cynical about this trend when we first spotted it. But it seems the hardcore Page X tweeters are doing something very personal. They're trying to spread a positive message. And they don't really care too much if their small messages don't go massively viral.

And how often does that happen on social media?

how long are people going to do this?

Blog by Mike Wendling

Other Trending stories you might enjoy:

'Never-ending' Twitter chain: mystery solved

Preacher v selfies!s

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending. All our stories are at

Tweeters spread Kenji Goto peace message

Kenji Goto

A four-year old tweet written by Kenji Goto, the Japanese hostage apparently executed by Islamic State militants, has been shared more than 30,000 times.

"Closing my eyes and holding still. It's the end if I get mad or scream. It's close to a prayer. Hate is not for humans. Judgment lies with God," Goto wrote. "That is what I learned from my Arabic brothers and sisters."

Goto was a film-maker and journalist who reported frequently from the Middle East, including from Syria and Iraq. The message from 2010 was revived by Twitter user @Coley_JP two weeks ago - shortly after video of Goto in captivity was released by Islamic State. It really started to become widely shared two days ago, after IS released video of what they said was the journalist's execution.

Another message widely shared was written by BBC journalist James Longman and warned social media users about spreading IS propaganda.

"Don't share the video. Don't play their game. Share pictures of Kenji doing his job," Longman wrote, in a message that was retweeted more than 17,000 times

Earlier BBC Trending reported on the #IamKenji hashtag started by one of Goto's friends, which has now been tweeted about 90,000 times.

James Longman tweet

Blog by Mike Wendling

More from Trending:

Who is the mysterious donor giving thousands to gamers?

Scorn over 'overweight' obit for famous Australian writer

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending. All our stories are at

Deadline day: The countdown in memes

Crowley town

Around the UK football fans are gripped to their phones and computers as they wait for their club to sign a player before the 2300 GMT deadline.

#DeadlineDay - or Transfer Deadline Day - or January Transfer Window Deadline - has become a yearly spectacle on social media too.

Today alone there have been 86,000 tweets about #DeadlineDay and fans are using other transfer-related terms such as "#TransferDeadlineDay" and "Transfer Deadline".

And of course, not surprising, the jokes on the internet are providing some great material as fans wait for the latest season-changing signings.

David Cameron
Deadline day
BBC Weather transfer deadline day

More BBC Trending stories:

Sharks and Seahawks, Patriots and Perry: Who won the social media Super Bowl?

Who's giving thousands of dollars to gamers?

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

All our stories are at

Who is the mysterious donor giving thousands to gamers?


Someone is showering tens of thousands of dollars on gamers who stream their playing through online network Twitch.

Who is Amhai, and why is he passing out so much cash? BBC Trending sums up what's known about the mysterious donor.

Reporter: Estelle Doyle

Video journalist: Greg Brosnan

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

All our stories are at

Who won the social media Super Bowl?

Katy Perry and her fishy backing dancers - #leftshark's odd moves captivated Twitter. Katy Perry and her fishy backing dancers - #leftshark's odd moves captivated Twitter.

It's the biggest sporting event in America and the stakes are huge - especially online.

More than 28m tweets were sent out using game-related hashtags such as "#SuperBowl" and "#SB49" (Sunday's game was the 49th instalment of the game - or "Super Bowl XLIX" as rendered in traditional American football Roman gladiator style). Facebook reported that 65m of its users were chatting about the game - and that more women were talking about it than men. And as ever, the ads in between the action generated a huge amount of interest online.

The winners? In terms of volume of social media buzz, #LikeAGirl was still trending Monday after an advertisement by the feminine hygiene brand Always. It was a push back at the notion that "like a girl" means weak or ineffectual, particularly when it comes to athletic endeavour. A longer version of the advert posted by Always - owned by the consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble - has been watched more than 50m times on YouTube.

A still from the #LikeAGirl advert A still from the #LikeAGirl advert

At halftime Katy Perry and Missy Elliot entertained the crowd, with a predictably huge social media reaction, but attention was also lavished on the people in goofy costumes dancing - with varying degrees of success - on stage. One of the dancing sharks in the show was hotly pursued by Reddit users who begged him for an AMA (Ask Me Anything) session.

On the losing side was an insurance company advert that featured boy listing everything he couldn't do - because he died in an accident. Nationwide meant to remind viewers that many childhood deaths are preventable, but many tweeters didn't appreciate a grimly serious message interrupting the big game.

I won't watch Katy Perry

The Ecuadorian Ministry of Tourism also came in for some criticism for buying ad time - at a reported rate of $4.5m per half minute - to promote the country's charms.

The advertisement pushed the tag #AllYouNeedIsEcuador to the rousing Beatles tune "All You Need is Love", but it got exactly the opposite from some Ecuadorians. "All we need is free speech, democracy and yes, another president," one tweeter fired back.

(Over the weekend, Trending chronicled Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa's tricky relationship with trolling and Twitter.)


Oh, and apparently in between the adverts and the music there was also a pretty exciting sporting contest, won in the waning moments by the New England Patriots.

Blog by Mike Wendling

More BBC Trending stories:

Democracy without women? Why Spanish feminists are looking at Greece.

What's most infuriating about everyday life in the United States?

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

All our stories are at

Trends of the week - in 60 seconds

Why did one woman become the face of rising public anger in Egypt this week? And how did a group of breastfeeding mothers in Liverpool protest after a photograph was removed from Facebook?

Answers to those questions along with more social media trends of the week in our quick-fire roundup.

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

Produced by Samiha Nettikkara, India Rakusen and Gabriela Torres

Video and picture credits: Reuters, Getty Images, PA, YouTube/Moses Brown School, Yonan Fayez, Instagram/Norgen.Norboo, Twitter/B_Lohani, Instagram/Amwrit, Liverpool Echo

More from Trending:

Radio - BBC World Service

YouTube channel

@BBCtrending on Twitter

All our stories are at

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.


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.