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28 August 2014 Last updated at 11:41

The Indian journalists' #TwitterPasswords

Indian newspapers

In India, jokes about passwords have been trending online. They come in response to a report that journalists might be asked to share access to their Twitter and Facebook accounts with their bosses.

Most would balk at the idea that their tweets and Facebook posts could be written by their employers. But that's exactly what journalists at the Times of India have been left pondering, after sections of what appears to be a new contract were published by another news organisation.

A clause in the draft contract states that journalists will need to hand over passwords to their social media accounts - or create new ones - allowing their employers to make supplementary posts in the journalists' names. The move would give the paper an incredible degree of control over what its employees could say, and provide access to their personal information on Facebook.

The controversy played out on Twitter. Editor of news website Quartz India, Sruthijith KK, posted: "The Times of India just instituted a bizarre Twitter and Facebook policy," linking to his article which made the claims. A senior manager at the Times, Satyan Gajwani, hit back. "The piece by @qzindia is inaccurate. I told @sruthijith that but he wanted to run anyways," he said, later tweeting that the documents Quartz had obtained were "old".

So were the paper's plans genuine? Besides Gajwani's response on Twitter, the Times hasn't issued an official statement, and some have suggested the paper would have sued if the claims lacked substance. Madhu Trehan, editor of media news website Newslaundry, tells BBC Trending that Gajwani's comments were very vague. " 'How old?' is the question to ask them. Is the contract two days old or a year old?" she says. On Twitter Gajwani said a new version - with major changes - has been created, but not shared publicly.

Many responded on Twitter with a sense of resigned cynicism. "ToI is just being polite when it is asking for passwords. In reality they can just track every keystroke and click and conversation," said one tweeter. The hashtag #TwitterPasswords emerged, and soon span out into comedy. It has appeared more than 7,000 times to date. Many used it to mock Alia Bhatt, the Indian film star who famously failed to name the country's president during a TV quiz. Her password should be "incorrect", one joked, so that if she ever gets it wrong Twitter would remind her by saying "your password is incorrect".

An office manager asking his staff to hand over their social media passwords This scene from the film Office Space was used to mock the idea

Trehan says that if the paper does implement the policy, it will pose a dilemma for many journalists, particularly younger ones who may have less choice in the matter. "It's very difficult for someone being hired to take the decision 'Oh I'm not going to sign the contract'," she says. Neither Satyan Gajwani, the Times of India, nor Bennett, Coleman and Company Ltd. - the paper's parent company that apparently created the draft contract - were available for comment.

Reporting by Sam Judah

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Row over polish to detect 'rape drug'

woman painting nails

Four male college students at the North Carolina State University are developing a new kind of nail polish that changes colour in the presence of date-rape drugs, like GHB and Rohypnol.

The goal of their company, Undercover Colors, is "to invent technologies that empower women to protect themselves," specifically against sexual assault, they said on their Facebook Page.

"With our nail polish, any woman will be empowered to discreetly ensure her safety by simply stirring her drink with her finger," they said. "If her nail polish changes colour, she'll know that something is wrong."

Undercover Colors initially garnered praise, with hundreds of thousands of likes and shares across Facebook and Twitter.

"There are already bulky devices that can be used to test drinks for date rape drugs," writes Adam Clark Estes for Gizmodo .

"But it's not necessarily easy to carry these things around on a night out and whip them out at bars."

However, the inevitable internet backlash came from a surprising source - anti-rape advocates.

Tweet: Rape prevention nail polish sounds like a great idea but I'm not sure how you're going to get men to wear it.  (@andreagrimes)

"I'm appreciative that young men like want to curb sexual assault, but anything that puts the onus on women to 'discreetly' keep from being raped misses the point," writes Jessica Valenti for the Guardian.

"We should be trying to stop rape, not just individually avoid it."

Valenti argues that promoting products like Undercover Colors is not only ineffective, but also can lead to "victim-blaming," if women don't take all the suggested precautions.

Tweet: How about women don't have to wear a special nail polish and dunk thier fingers in every cocktail not to get raped (@lindywest)

"Women are already expected to work hard to prevent themselves from becoming the victims of sexual assault," writes Tara Culp-Ressler for Think Progress.

"Now, remembering to put on anti-rape nail polish and discreetly slip a finger into each drink might be added to that ever-growing checklist-something that actually reinforces a pervasive rape culture in our society."

Additionally, date-rape drugs are not necessarily a factor in the majority of sexual assaults as much as alcohol.

Tweet: This new nail polish that can detect the date rape drug is great if you think women aren't trying hard enough not to get raped.  (@kellyoxford)

Writing for Jezebel, Erin Gloria Ryan says that improving education around sexual assault could prove more beneficial than colour-changing manicures.

"Teach men that having sex with women too incapacitated to consent is rape," she writes.

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Listen to BBC Trending radio

American Journalist James Foley American Journalist James Foley

Listen to or download the latest BBC Trending radio show.

On this week's programme, we find out why people have responded to sharing of the video of the beheading of American journalist James Foley, with the call for an #ISISmediablackout. Presenter James Fletcher speaks to Joseph Carter, research fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation, about who was sharing the video and why.

The filmmaker Jon Novick tells us how he used a secret camera to expose attitudes to dwarfism in New York. And what are 'Cyber-Hindus' trying to achieve with their recent spate of pro-Hindu hashtags?

Listen to BBC Trending radio

Produced by Anna Meisel.

We are 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.


Why are strangers photographing this dog?

Walking along a busy street in the Washington DC neighbourhood of Adams Morgan one can't help but notice a big face looking down onto the street from its window perch.

It is Romo, the "King of Adams Morgan" as he has been called, and a social media rock star in the US capital.

Ever since his owners Tiffany Bacon and Peter Scourby put a nameplate under the window, the 150-pound animal has seen his mentions on Instagram and Twitter skyrocket.

Now the couple is moving to the suburbs and neighbours are voicing their opinion on social media about Romo's departure.

Video by Annie Waldman and Franz Strasser

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The Spanish mayor and the bra protest

Residents of Valladolid tie a chain of bras around the entrance to the town hall

More than 500 protesters have tied a chain of bras across the entrance of a town hall in the Spanish city of Valladolid.

The idea began on Twitter, and is one of two anti-rape campaigns now trending in the country.

The demonstrators were calling for the resignation of León de la Riva, the mayor of Valladolid, following his comments in a recent radio interview.

Mr de la Riva, who has a history of making sexist comments, told the presenter he had qualms about being alone with a woman in case she falsely accused him of rape.

"Imagine you get into a lift and there's a girl trying to get it on with you. She gets in the lift with you, takes off her bra and skirt, and then runs out screaming that you've tried to assault her," he said.

His remarks caused outrage, and soon the hashtag #EscracheDeSujetadores began trending on Twitter. It has now been used more than 10,000 times.

Translating roughly as "bra protest", the hashtag has prompted exactly that.

It was created by Ada Colau, a well known social activist from Barcelona, who didn't know it would translate into Monday's real world protest when she first used it.

"It was a good way to sum up the indignation of women and of decent men in this country, but also it's a way of showing machistas like this mayor that they're not going to take away our dignity or our sense of humour," Colau tells BBC Trending.

Residents of Valladolid tie a chain of bras around the entrance to the town hall The chain of bras stretched around the entrance to the town hall

The mayor's interview followed a string of controversial events in Spain, which have also generated a big response online.

When a Spanish judge dropped a rape case against five young men in Malaga last week, anger at the decision flared up on social media, and spilled over into live demonstrations across the country.

The hashtag #NoEstasSola, which translates as "You are not alone", has been used more than 40,000 times since Wednesday, and 5,500 times in the last 24 hours.

It is meant as a message of support for the woman who made the initial accusations.

"For all women who have felt fear, insecurity, or sexual assault at the hands of a man #noestasola," said one tweet.

"No aggression should go unanswered," said another, calling protesters to join a demonstration outside Madrid's Ministry of Justice.

A female protester Protests took place outside Madrid's Ministry of Justice on Monday

The backlash was not simply in response to the case itself, but it was also fuelled by a number of unusual statements from Spanish officials.

The Mayor of Malaga asked locals not to draw attention to the case because there were more than 1,000 rapes in the country each year. The city should not be singled out as a dangerous place, he said.

Just weeks earlier, the Spanish government issued a controversial set of guidelines aimed at reducing the incidence of sexual assault in the country.

They advised citizens to keep their curtains closed and remove their first names from their letterboxes.

Critics were appalled by the approach, saying the guidelines shifted responsibility onto potential victims, rather than focussing on perpetrators.

Reporting by Sam Judah

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Trends of the week - in 60 seconds

What's been trending on social media around the world this week?

From a backlash against the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, to the Egyptians criticising their government by tweeting ironic crowd control tips to police in Ferguson, BBC Trending brings you some of the week's top trends - in 60 seconds.

Produced by India Rakusen & Ravin Sampat

Images courtesy of Getty, AFP, Reuters, Scott Barbou, Joshua Lott

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.


Anti-abortion ice bucket ire

Man is doused with water

The Ice Bucket Challenge has been spreading across social media, raising over $50m (£30.16m) for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

But while everyone from Bill Gates to Justin Bieber has participated in the project, some are contentiously sitting out.

Abortion opponents in the US, including leaders of the Roman Catholic clergy, have discouraging participation in the Ice Bucket Challenge.

That's because the ALS Association, where participants are asked to send their donations, supports embryonic stem-cell research.

Since those cells are harvested from an embryo that is then discarded, pro-life groups say the process destroys human life.

Tweet from Whitney Eversole

"[Y]our money may end up supporting clinical trials that use aborted foetal cells," writes Rebecca Taylor for anti-abortion media organization Life News.

"Even if the money is not directly going to facilitate such research, it will be going to organisations that see no problem in using aborted innocents as biological material for medical use."

Some anti-abortion supporters are still doing the Ice Bucket Challenge, but with modifications.

Facebook post

Many begin their videos speaking out against embryonic stem-cell research and donate their funds to research organisations that are more in line with their values.

At the same time, pro-choice advocates have created a new challenge that raises funds for abortion-access charities instead of ALS research.

Tweet from Andrea Grimes

Pro-choice activist Andrea Grimes started the #TacoOrBeerChallenge as a joke after she grew tired of seeing so many Ice Bucket Challenge videos.

Tweet by Andrea Grimes

Many complied with her request to donate money to pro-choice charities, though neither drinking a beer or eating a taco is actually required.

"The Taco or Beer Challenge is about doing what's right for your own taco and beverage needs, just like having an abortion-or not-is about doing what's right for yourself and your family," Ms Grimes wrote on the pro-choice website RHRealityCheck, where she is a senior political reporter.

Taco or Beer Tweet

After taking the challenge, participants can submit videos and images, along with proof of their donation, to the official Taco or Beer Challenge tumblr.

Reporting by Annie Waldman

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Jaycee Chan and the viral video game

NATIONAL SEARCH FOR JAYCEE Can you spot Jaycee? The HTML game featuring the troubled star has gone viral

Troubled Hong Kong actor Jaycee Chan, more famously known as the son of martial arts legend Jackie Chan, has starred in a new video game after being arrested on drug-related charges.

The game called "The National Search for Jaycee" spread like wildfire on popular Chinese messaging app WeChat. The game is available to play online, and has been accessed more than 60 million times since being released on Tuesday.

The aim is to spot Jaycee amongst a sea of pictures of Kai Ko, a Taiwanese movie star who was arrested as part of the same operation.

"It's a great shame about his career but I had fun playing the game; it seemed pointless but proved to be very addictive," one WeChat user said. "Spot Jaycee? It's harder than finding Wally," said another.

Jackie Chan and his son Jaycee  attend a commercial advertisement taping on 21 January, 2009 in Shanghai, China Could the scandal help mend alleged strains between Jackie and Jaycee?

Last week's arrests come amid an ongoing crackdown - or "people's war" - on narcotics, which has already led to the arrest of several Chinese celebrities. Artist management agencies across Beijing have signed an agreement with local police, pledging not to recruit celebrities with reported drug use problems. Illegal drug use has been on the rise in China since the 1980s, and drugs are now bought and sold on social networks.

The operation is just one strand of Chinese President Xi Jinping's aim to solve what he sees as four key problems facing the country - formalism, bureaucracy, hedonism and extravagance. Public displays of decadence, particularly amongst a newly rich elite, is reportedly a source of increasing discontent in the country.

While the fate of Jaycee's career remains unclear, Jackie Chan made a public apology on Chinese microblogging site Weibo, saying he felt "ashamed" and "sad" about his son's actions.

Reporting by Heather Chen

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Egypt's message to US police backfires

A tweet showing a man on a camel riding into a crowd and reading "For a memorable entrance, why not make use of local animals?"

Earlier this week an Egyptian official called for police in the US town of Ferguson to "exercise restraint". Many Egyptians have been twisting his barbed comment around, however, using it to level criticism back at their own government.

The statement from Cairo was directed at the heavily armed police response to rioting in Ferguson, which broke out when an unarmed black teenager was shot by police. But to some Egyptians, it seemed deeply hypocritical. Just a week earlier, a report accusing Egypt's police force of murdering 800 protesters near the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque was published by Human Rights Watch.

Now, Egyptian Twitter users have been calling their government out on the issue, taking the statement as a joke, and running with it. Using the hashtag #EgyPoliceTipsToUS, they have been sending satirical tips to police in Ferguson, advising them to mirror the tactics police in Rabaa al-Adawiya were alleged to have used.

"Don't fire rubber bullets, it's a waste of time and money. Fire real bullets instead," one user posted. "Hire state sponsored thugs to infiltrate the crowd and sexually assault women to deter them from protesting," said another.

"For a memorable entrance, why not make use of local animals?" said a third, posting a picture of a man on a camel beating back protesters. Speaking to BBC Trending the user, known as Buthaynah, says "I think it's comical that a government with an abysmal human rights record - such as Egypt's should have anything to say about restraint."

A tweet showing a group of police beating a man and reading "Remember: teamwork is the key"

The hashtag, which has now been used more than 2,000 times, was started by an Egyptian known as Galal. He tells us he designed it "as a troll against Egypt's police" who are in no position to set standards on how to deal with protests. He says he wants the trend to act as an informal "record sheet" detailing their "past assaults".

There was by no means a consensus on the matter, though. An Arabic hashtag #مصر_تطالب_أمريكا_بضبط_النفس, which roughly translates as "Egypt asks America to show restraint", has appeared more than 6,000 times, and used to express support for the Egyptian government's remarks. "That's the Egypt that us Arabs are proud of," said one, and "Obama, you should try to be as wise as Sisi is," said another.

Egypt joins a host of countries in accusing the US of double standards - passing judgement on policing methods around the world, while appearing to take a heavy hand in presiding over civil unrest at home. Senior figures from Iran and Russia have commented on the matter as well.

Whilst not comparable to the Egyptian response to protests in terms of severity, organisation Amnesty International has accused Ferguson police of human rights abuses in recent days.

Reporting by Sam Judah and Nader Ibrahim

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Can social media save the Union?

In less than a month Scotland will vote on whether to leave the UK, in a referendum on independence.

Leading the official campaigns for each side are Yes Scotland and Better Together. But there are also large grass roots movements on both sides of volunteers on the ground and online.

Anne-Marie Tomchak from BBC Trending went to the Scottish Highlands, Edinburgh and Glasgow to find out how Better Together supporters are using social media to reach the electorate.

This is one of two BBC Trending reports featuring voices from each side of the referendum debate. Watch our video about Lady Alba, a Yes supporter using a cover version of Lady Gaga to satirise No voters.


Saying no to graphic images of Foley

A tweet reading "Instead of spreading the image and video of that horrible act, here's James Wright Foley. Remember him and his work."

Images and videos of James Foley's killing have been circulating on social media, distressing many who see them. A range of voices have emerged calling for positive images and memories to be shared instead.

A video released by the Islamic State jihadist group shows the beheading of the US journalist who went missing in Syria in 2012. The footage has been uploaded to Youtube and Facebook, and screenshots are also being posted on Twitter.

The hashtag #ISISMediaBlackout has been used more than 11,000 times on Twitter, by those denouncing the act of sharing the macabre images. In addition, many are now calling for more positive images and memories to be shared instead.

"Instead of spreading the image and video of that horrible act, here's James Wright Foley. Remember him and his work," said one, sharing the image at the top of this article. The tweet has been shared more than 2,000 times. "Point well made. It's chilling that a beheading can be turned into a spectator sport," read one response. Not everybody agreed with the calls not to share footage of the killing. "The world needs to see the barbarians we are dealing with, I think James would want us to, if not he died in vain!" replied another. Viewed as a whole, however, response to the messages has been overwhelmingly supportive.

A tweet reading "Dear Media, Please avoid sharing any images or videos of journalist James Foley's death- instead lets share this"

Pranaav Jadhav, a journalist based in the US, posted a similar message, with the picture above. "Dear Media, Please avoid sharing any images or videos of journalist James Foley's death- instead lets share this," it read. Speaking to BBC Trending Jadhav says "an argument may surface that it is important to show the real face of ISIS," but that since the group wants to "cause harm by spreading these videos, it is important to take a stand against them."

A tweet reading "Don't let ISIS win.  Remember James Foley in a positive way.  Celebrate his life! "

"Instead of seeking out the beheading video of James Foley, seek out his work, he died in the service of telling stories from dark places," said a fellow journalist. "Share this instead," said another, citing this article that he wrote for the Global Post in the month prior to his capture. Others called for people to watch a talk he gave at Medill University, or a BBC interview, both filmed in 2011.

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Going Gaga for Scottish independence

After over 300 years together, is Scotland in a 'Bad Romance' with the rest of the UK?

That's what Lady Alba thinks. She's become popular on social media after her spoof video about Scotland's independence referendum went viral.

The video re-interprets Lady Gaga's song 'Bad Romance' to poke fun at supporters of a 'No' vote, who want Scotland to remain part of the UK. It has been viewed over 83 thousand times on YouTube.

Anne-Marie Tomchak caught up with Lady Alba during the making of her next video to find out how she's using social media to campaign for a Yes vote.

Produced by Neil Meads.

This is one of a series of BBC Trending reports featuring voices from each side of Scotland's independence referendum debate. Later in the week you can watch how Better Together supporters are using social media.

To hear how the debate is playing out on both sides, listen to the #BBCtrending radio show here.


The 'viral' weapons in Syria's conflict

Image of a text file showing password information Youtube videos explain how to install programmes containing malicious code

Groups of pro-Assad hackers are using social media and the lure of disturbing online videos to hack into the computers of rival groups in Syria.

Last year, the Syrian Electronic Army rose to prominence when they hacked into news websites and Twitter accounts run by the BBC, CBS, and other high profile media organisations.

Now the group appears to be using "social engineering tricks" - offering content that typically goes viral on social media - to install spyware on computers belonging to those who oppose the Assad regime. And they appear to be working. Internet security firm Kaspersky estimates the malicious software has been downloaded around 10,000 times.

One of the tricks involves promoting videos claiming to be of victims injured in recent attacks by the Assad regime. When attempting to download the clips from file sharing sites, rogue software is downloaded as well, which could give hackers access to the computer. If successful, they can record keystrokes, obtain passwords, and record online phone calls. Another piece of bait used is a letter which purports to be between Syrian military units detailing forthcoming chemical attacks.

Part of the letter circulating on social media

Other methods include posting messages on Facebook encouraging users to protect themselves from government attacks by installing "Ammazon Internet Security" software - a fake anti-virus programme designed to compromise the user's machine.

David Emm works for Kaspersky Lab, an internet security firm that produced a report about the attacks. "It's social engineering. It's aimed at people who would be shocked or angered by what's been posted," he tells BBC Trending. Although it is impossible to be certain they are the work of the Syrian Electronic Army, there are clues that suggest they are involved. As well as the nature of the content itself, the spyware is passing information back to a server with an IP address provided by the TARASSUL, as ISP associated with the Syrian government.

Once infiltrated, the machines can be used to collect intelligence, and disrupt opposition networks. Emm says the attacks are likely to become both more prolific and more sophisticated as the conflict continues.

Social networks have played a huge role in the Syrian conflict to date. Government regulated news broadcasts have pushed many people online in a search for more information. Social media has been used for everything from breaking news, to documenting battles, and fundraising for opposition forces.

Reporting by Sam Judah

Have you subscribed the BBC Trending podcast? You can do so here via iTunes or here

All our stories are at BBC.com/trending


Life as a 'little person' in a big city

What is life like for a person with dwarfism, surrounded by people much taller than you?

Jonathan Novick is filmmaker from New York City. He decided to turn the camera on himself, and his documentary highlighting the prejudice he encounters on a daily basis has become a Youtube hit.

Reporting by Greg Brosnan

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


Scotland #indyref social media

Selection of images from Anne-Marie Tomchak in Scotland

On 18 September the people of Scotland will vote in a referendum on whether to become independent from the rest of the United Kingdom. Passions are running high and the debate is being played out across social platforms in the shape of songs, hashtags and at times online abuse, or trolling.

Anne-Marie Tomchak travels to the Scottish Highlands to meet Richard Crawford who's running local Facebook pages for the Better Together campaign - which wants Scotland to stay in the UK. In Edinburgh, she meets Lady Alba who's making parody YouTube videos in support of a Yes vote for independence. And in Glasgow, she hears from the people heading up the official social media campaigns - Yes Scotland and Better Together. And helping us cut through all the digital noise is social media expert Mike McGrail.

Produced by Anna Meisel.

We are on BBC World Service radio at 10:30 GMT on Saturdays - and you can put us in your pocket and listen anytime you like by downloading our free podcast


The Louisville 'Purge' hoax

A poster advertising the so-called 'purge' This image was circulated on Twitter, and similar posters reportedly appeared around Louisville

A teenager who posted a provocative tweet based on an idea from a new film has triggered a deluge of activity on Twitter, and prompted a response from the FBI and local police.

The film, called Purge: Anarchy, depicts a fictional society in which any crime committed within an annual 12 hour window goes unpunished. The premise is that an anarchic splurge will have a calming effect on the populace for the rest of the year.

Early last week, an unidentified teenager borrowed the concept and took to Twitter calling for a real life "purge" in his home town. "Whos [sic] trying to get a Louisville Purge Started With Me?" he posted. Other students, also from the US city, began circulating the message on both Twitter and Facebook. Some included an image of a mocked-up flyer resembling the film's promotional artwork, and slated the event for the night of Friday 15 August. One tweeter even claimed to have seen the image transposed onto posters, and "hung up all over Louisville".

The messages came to the attention of the FBI and local police departments, who said they were taking the threats seriously. High school football games were reportedly cancelled. Many listened live to police radio communication - available online - and the hashtag #louisvillepolicescanner was mentioned more than 100,000 times on Twitter. "I wonder if the #LouisvillePoliceScanner operators know how famous they are tonight. This is their 'rock-star' moment," said one user.

But did the much-hyped event actually lead to a spike in recorded crime? Thankfully, the weekend passed without major incident. There were two fatal shootings on Friday night, but neither could be connected to the hoax. Dwight Mitchell, a Public Information Officer with the Louisville Metro Police Department told BBC Trending: "Luckily nothing was reported that had anything to do with a 'purge'." The police have now tracked the teenager down, and chosen not to press charges after he apologised for his tweet. "One lesson is that people really need to be careful about what they say on social media," said a spokesman for Mayor Greg Fischer.

Now, flyers have been created advertising "purges" in several other US cities as well. The Sheriff's Office of one of the cities in question has released a statement to say it is monitoring the conversation online, but does not currently see it as a legitimate threat.

Reporting by Sam Judah

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


Trends of the week - in 60 seconds

What's been trending on social media around the world this week?

From slippers against sexism in Turkey, to the selfies highlighting how the media portrays African-Americans, BBC Trending brings you some of the week's top trends - in 60 seconds.

Produced by Ravin Sampat & India Rakusen

Images courtesy of Getty, AFP, Reuters, Malcolm Shakur West, Lee Raye

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.


The Iranian president's surprising tweet

Hassan Rouhani's tweet showing Maryam Mirzakhani with and without a hijab

The president of Iran has broken new ground by tweeting a photo of a female mathematician without a hijab. His decision prompted a powerful reaction on social media.

The mathematician in question - Maryam Mirzakhani - is Iranian, and recently became the first woman to win the Fields Medal for her pioneering work in the field. President Rouhani tweeted a message expressing his delight at the news. "Congrats to #MaryamMirzakhani on becoming the first ever woman to win the #FieldsMedal, making us Iranians very proud," he said. The surprise came by way of two pictures he attached to the message. In one half the mathematician appeared wearing a hijab - required by law for women in Iran, and in the other she appeared bare-headed. The image has been retweeted almost 3,000 times, and caused a deluge of comments online.

Many criticised the gesture as hypocritical. "Will you encourage women in Iran to study and be successful like her? Or are you gonna oppress them like always?" said one. "#Iran diaspora so excited abt Prez Rouhani's use of Mirzakhani pics; Silent as women increasingly banned from various fields in universities," said another, referring to a range of restrictions placed the subjects women could study two years ago.

It's been suggested that Rouhani was sending a message to highly qualified Iranian women, in an attempt to reverse the country's "brain drain". The response to the image on the president's alternative Farsi language Twitter account appeared to confirm that. "This will encourage young people in Iran. Don't let them to think that immigration is the only way," said one user. Tens of thousands of women have left the country in recent years to enhance their careers in Europe and North America. Indeed, Mirzakhani herself left the country after completing her undergraduate degree, and is now resident in the US.

Others felt the president was playing it safe. "It's probably to appease both sides... you'd be surprised how many trolls knock Muslim women for not wearing 'proper' attire," said one. Perhaps indicative of the more liberal tendencies of Iranians who use Twitter, very few expressed outrage at the decision.

Despite the president's bold move, the national press did not feel it could follow suit. The Iran Newspaper ran a single - covered - photo of Mirzakhani, and others ran clever crops or illustrations to dodge this issue. Showing uncovered women is a red line in the Iranian media that is rarely crossed, for fear of being accused of insulting the hijab, or promoting anti-Islamic values.

A newspaper front page showing Maryam Mirzakhani wearing a hijab The front page of Thursday's Iran Newspaper

Rouhani has previously suggested he would take a softer line on the Islamic dress code. In July last year he said he opposed a crackdown against women with loose clothing. Earlier this year many women in the country flouted the law, by posting images of themselves without hijabs on Facebook.

Reporting by Sam Judah

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


Social media fuels Pakistan protest

Pakistan's political parties have been battling on social media as the country celebrates its Independence Day. The government hoped to promote unity using historic images of independence but an opposition party has used hashtags on Twitter and pages on Facebook to support a protest march calling for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's resignation.

Reporting by Greg Brosnan

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


Military tactics in US 'war zone'

Protester facing police

After the shooting of an unarmed black teenager by police in the US state of Missouri, and the violence that followed, questions have arisen about the police reaction.

The shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown sparked often violent protests, looting and rioting across Ferguson, Missouri, over the past three days. Some commentators have now dubbed the suburb "Fergustan" on social media, suggesting the area now resembles a "war zone".

President Barack Obama said on Thursday that there was "no excuse for excessive force" by police, while also condemning violence against officers.

Eyewitnesses say Mr Brown raised his arms in an attempt to surrender before he was shot by an officer, but police say there was a struggle.

As local and county police have taken to the streets to contain the unrest, many have questioned whether their show of force has been too excessive.

Police in Ferguson

In one photo, police officers are responding to the protests in armoured vehicles, initially developed to withstand improvised explosive devices.

Other photos show police wearing army green shirts and camouflage pants, similar to the uniforms of US marines, and carrying guns based on the military-used M4 carbine.

Videos reveals smoke clouds of what appears to be tear gas, inundating empty streets that were at one point filled with protesters.

Vine St. Louis Alderman Antonio French has been documenting the protests in Ferguson on the social media platform, Vine.

Images like these have led many commentators to question how the small suburb of Ferguson could have turned into a "war zone" overnight.

Tweet
Twitter
Tweet Twitter users react to photographs and citizen media of police in Ferguson, Missouri.

"Some of the images we're seeing are indiscriminate shows of force - the stopping of people and the pointing guns at people," says Radley Balko, who has written two books on the militarisation of US police.

"This is slowly becoming a default reaction in emergency situations - the only way to stop a situation is an overwhelming force and turning large sections of cities into martial law zones."

Much of the military gear that police departments use is distributed by the Department of Defence at a small cost to police, says Balko. Local police departments only have to pay for the gear's transportation and upkeep.

Author Radley Balko on the militarisation of the police

The police in Ferguson have defended firing tear gas and rubber bullets, saying the crowds refused to disperse and some of the protesters were throwing rocks and firing guns.

At a press conference on Thursday police chief Thomas Jackson said the tactical units would be back on the streets tonight. "It's a powder keg. We all recognise that."

Norm Stamper, the police chief who led the much-criticised police response to the 1999 WTO protests in Seattle, believes there are times when the police need to militarise.

"For active shooter cases, hostage situations, and school shootings and so forth, you had better be ready to respond to all of that. It's irresponsible not to," he says.

But he does not think the disturbances in Ferguson justify it, because this type of force should be used in moderation and with the community in mind.

"That means [having an] open and honest forthright conversation that requires police to recognise their role as peacekeepers and peacemakers, rather than escalating their show of force."

Reporting by Annie P Waldman

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The funny side of exam results day

A scene from Sherlock Holmes with the subtitle "If you love me, don't read it in front of me". This scene from the BBC's Sherlock Holmes television series was shared widely on Twitter

British students are sharing concerns about their A-level exam results on Twitter, in an attempt to stem their anxiety.

The hashtag #ResultsDayQuotes has been used by people anticipating what they will say once their results are known. Some posted pictures and quotes from film and television scenes - featuring iconic moments of despair and despondency - to describe how many may be feeling. The hashtag has been used more than 10,000 times in the last 24 hours, and is still gathering pace.

One tweet shows a scene from the BBC's adaptation of Sherlock Holmes, in which John Watson's wife Mary, played by Amanda Abbington, begs him not to look through a file revealing her past. "If you love me, don't read it in front of me," she asks.

David Schwimmer in Friends with the subtitle "My life is an embarrassment".

Another shows the character Ross from Friends, played by David Schwimmer, saying: "My life is an embarrassment. I should just go live under somebody's stairs."

An image from Toy Story with the caption "Disappointment, disappointment everywhere".

A scene from Toy Story is overlaid with the words, "Disappointment, disappointment everywhere," and another, from animated sitcom Bob's Burgers, shows Tina Belcher lying prostrate saying, "If you need me, I'll be down here on the floor dying."

A cartoon with the caption "If you need me I'll be down here on the floor dying".

"#ResultsDayQuotes Dad, I think the most important thing is that we're all alive and well," tweeted Ben Carthy, an A-level student from Stockport. He is due to get his AS-level results tomorrow - having completed just the first year of his courses - but has friends who will get their final A-level grades. "Quite a lot of them are really nervous, but I don't see the point, there's not a lot they can do now," he tells BBC Trending.

A user called Haroon tweeted: "Are you a doctor yet? Come back when you doctor #ResultsDayQuotes #asianfamily". His younger brother is due to find out if he has gained the grades to qualify for a degree in biomedical science, he tells BBC Trending. Despite the tweet, he offers words of encouragement to his brother, and those like him. "It can never be as bad as you think, and there are always alternative options if you don't get what you want," he says.

Rebecca Iddon works for Meic, a student advocacy service funded by the Welsh government that provides a free, anonymous, helpline for young people. She agrees with Haroon's sentiment, and says staff at Meic often talk to people "about access courses, or alternative degrees that could put them on the same career path". After all, "getting an A* isn't the be all and end all of everything," she adds.

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Adult actress tweets alleged assault

Jon Koppenhaver, aka War Machine A police photograph of Jon Koppenhaver from a 2009 battery arrest

An adult film star is in the hospital, with her ex-boyfriend, a mixed-martial arts combatant, wanted by the police.

It's the kind of story ripe for the tabloids. The tale, however, has unfolded almost entirely on social media - including conflicting stories from those involved, graphic photos and crowd-sourced efforts to help the injured.

In the press, the incident is being cited as a cautionary tale about domestic abuse, sports violence and misogynistic culture.

Details of the story began to surface on Twitter on Saturday, when former Ultimate Fighting Championship participant Jon Koppenhaver, aka War Machine, posted a series of cryptic messages directed at his ex-girlfriend, adult film star Christy Mack.

"@ChristyMack I love you and hope you're OK," he tweets. "I came home early to surprise you and help you set up for your convention. I can't believe what I found and can't believe what happened. All I wanted was to surprise you and help and do something nice ... now this."

On Sunday, he would post more: "I'm not a bad guy, I went to surprise my gf ... and ended up fighting for my life."

He adds that "one day truth will come out".

The truth, or at least Ms Mack's version of it, was posted to her Twitter account on Monday evening, including several graphic hospital-bed photos of injuries the actress says she suffered at the hands of Mr Koppenhaver.

According to Ms Mack, Mr Koppenhaver entered her Las Vegas home unannounced at 02:00 Saturday. She says he assaulted a friend who was visiting, then turned his attention on her, cutting her hair with a blunt knife and severely beating her face and chest.

"I believed I was going to die," she writes. "He has beaten me many times before, but never this badly."

She says she escaped when he went to find a new knife in another room, and a neighbour took her to hospital.

Jon Koppenhaver tweets that "the cops will never give me fair play". Jon Koppenhaver sends a series of tweets on Sunday prior to news of the incident being reported

Since Ms Mack's post was published, it has been retweeted more than 37,000 times. Replies to her message have been a mix of expressions of sympathy and misogynistic barbs.

Meanwhile, the adult film community has rallied around Ms Mack.

Adult actress Kendall Karrson started a Giveforward crowd-sourcing campaign to solicit donations for Ms Mack's medical care. So far it has raised more than $36,000 (£21,500) toward its goal of $100,000, including $10,000 from the owners of the pornographic website Brazzers.

Start Quote

Mixed martial arts has a long-standing domestic violence problem”

End Quote Tracy Clark-Flory Salon

In the mainstream media, commentators have lauded Ms Mack's willingness to come forward with her story and pointed out that Mr Koppenhaver has a history of arrests for violent attacks.

"Domestic abuse is a widely underreported crime and is especially prevalent in the porn industry," writes Cosmopolitan magazine's Frank Kobola. "Mack, a famous porn star with more than 570,000 Twitter followers, is extremely brave to post such an account, which could, sadly, negatively affect her career."

Ms Mack's move, writes Time magazine's Eliana Dockterman, is part of a growing trend among victims of violence to reach out on social media.

"Women and men previously ashamed to tell their stories of domestic violence or rape have used social media to share what happened to them with other survivors or shame their perpetrators," she writes.

She quotes Ruth Glenn of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, who says such public admissions of victimhood can be a double-edged sword, however. While the public can see what happens "behind closed doors", she says, it also could desensitise the viewer.

Christy Mack's Twitter post on her injuries. On Monday evening Christy Mack posts her account of the incident on Twitter, along with graphic photos of her in the hospital

"I would hope that anyone who is experiencing violence would be careful because it does expose them to anything from victim-blaming to escalation of violence from their perpetrator," she adds.

Salon's Tracy Clark-Flory draws a line connecting the Koppenhaver-Mack incident and anti-women violence in US professional sports, as well as the Elliot Rodgers shooting and the pickup-artist subculture.

"Mixed martial arts has a long-standing domestic violence problem," she writes. "This case reveals the sport's link to a brand of toxic masculinity that is evident in the worst examples of current misogyny."

Las Vegas police have issued seven arrest warrants for Mr Koppenhaver, who has not been seen publicly since the incident. Bellator, a martial arts promotion company, announced that it was terminating Mr Koppenhaver's contract.

In addition, Ms Mack is offering a $10,000 reward for information that leads to his capture.

Reporting by Anthony Zurcher

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Schoolboy divides Jewish South Africans

Three boys wearing Palestinian scarves The image led to three online petitions

A Jewish schoolboy from South Africa has posted a photo, and message of support, for Palestinians living in Gaza - highlighting a rift in the country's Jewish community.

Last week, Joshua Broomberg uploaded a picture of himself and two friends to Facebook. All were wearing Palestinian scarves, and it was accompanied by a message reading "Team South Africa… show our opposition to the human rights violations being carried out against the people of Palestine".

The post caused fury in a segment of the country's Jewish community, and over the weekend an online petition had been set up demanding he be punished. Broomberg is deputy head boy and head of the debating team at King David Victory Park, a Jewish school in Johannesburg.

The petition was posted on Change.org, and called for his removal from "all leadership positions". It is addressed to the school's headmaster, Gavin Budd, and Rabbi Craig Kacev, head of the South African Board of Jewish Education, to which the school is affiliated. It has attracted more than 2,000 signatures, and a string of comments from Jewish South Africans who were shocked by Broomberg's post.

One commenter, who says he used to be deputy head boy at the same school, said Broomberg's actions were "an absolute insult to my heroes and Israel as a whole," and added, "this is really saddening to see, hope it is dealt with accordingly!"

Soon, however, two rival petitions were created, lobbying the school to stand by Broomberg and his Facebook post. "We oppose the suggested removal of the Deputy Head Boy… and support his leadership & humanitarian qualities," said one, also on Change.org and created by a user named Rob Hutchinson, from Johannesburg. Another, entitled "Defend Freedom of Expression in the Jewish Community," was created on Avaaz.org and the initial signatories say they are all former pupils at King David Victory Park. The opposing petitions have attracted a combined total of more than 7,000 signatures.

The reaction to Broomberg's case seems to reflect a growing debate among South Africa's Jewish population, estimated to be around 70,000 strong. On Monday, around 500 members of the community marched in Durban to protest against Israel's actions in Gaza. They reportedly sought to distance themselves from local Jewish organisations that showed "blind support" for the military campaign.

Broomberg himself has now responded, taking to Facebook to defend his message. "While I apologise for the hurt we seem to have caused, I do not apologise for standing with Palestine on this issue," he wrote.

For his part, the South African Board of Jewish Education's Rabbi Kacev has dismissed all three of the online campaigns. Speaking to BBC Trending, he explained that the school teaches children about the centrality of the state of Israel, adding: "For many that's a political statement, but for us it isn't. We're not a political organisation".

Reporting by Sam Judah

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Online reaction to Robin Williams' death

Mukul Devichand discusses the reaction to Robin Williams' death

Robin Williams' death has led to a flood of tributes on social media, with the Mrs Doubtfire star dominating eight of the worldwide trends on Twitter at one point.

#RIPRobinWilliams was used over 2.5 million times on Tuesday as those on social media paid tribute to the star, whilst a number of his films including Jumanji, were trending online.

Mukul Devichand of #BBCtrending reports on how the top trends unfolded online.

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#BBCtrending in Istanbul

A view over Istanbul; outside Bilgi University; Yavuz Değirmenci; and a rally for Prime Minister Erdogan. A view over Istanbul; outside Bilgi University; Yavuz Değirmenci; and a rally for Prime Minister Erdogan.

The man just elected as Turkey's President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, once vowed to destroy Twitter - yet he used it to great effect in his campaign. On Friday, BBC Trending went on the road to Istanbul to look at the controversial role of social media in the campaign.

Listen to #BBCtrending in Istanbul

Presenter Mukul Devichand was at Bilgi University in Istanbul to discuss the trends and memes of the elections and the changing voice of social media in Turkey. We spoke to the AK Party's Istanbul branch about the role of social media this time around, and Mukul found out the latest on a blocked Twitter account leaking government information.

We met the creators of a YouTube comedy series set in the slums of Turkey's capital city, Ankara and found out about the digital legacy of the Gezi protests of 2013.

Presented by Mukul Devichand

We are on BBC World Service radio at 10:30 GMT on Saturdays - and you can put us in your pocket and listen anytime you like by downloading our free podcast


The two faces of Michael Brown

Two pictures of the same person, one in a smart army uniform, another pretending to be a gangster holding a toy gun. Benjamin posted a typical pair of photos using the hashtag #IfTheyGunnedMeDown

The killing of a black teenager by police in a suburb of St Louis, Missouri has sparked looting and riots in the city. Now, black people across the US have taken to Twitter to protest the way he has been portrayed in the media.

Michael Brown in a cap and gown Brown graduating from high school

By posting two pictures of themselves - one in a conventionally positive scenario, and another in a more negative light - hundreds of people have hit back at a form of stereotyping they feel is common in the media.

Michael Brown, 18, was shot and killed on Saturday after a struggle with police, in a predominantly black suburb of St Louis. Riots broke out after a vigil held in his memory the following day.

Initially, a photograph of Brown graduating from high school was reportedly shown by media outlets running the story.

Later, an alternative photo emerged of Brown wearing a sports vest and making a sign with his hand. At a glance, it could be seen as suggestive of gang culture, even if it was simply a light-hearted gesture. It was this image that became popular with media organisations and conservative bloggers, according to criminal defence lawyer CJ Lawrence.

Michael Brown in a sports vest making a sign with his hand Protesters claim this photograph of Brown proved more popular in the media

Lawrence says he was frustrated by what he saw as an attempt to shift blame away from the police, and onto Brown. He posted dual images of himself on Twitter along with the hashtag #IfTheyGunnedMeDown.

In the first, he is seen making a speech at his university graduation alongside guest speaker Bill Clinton. In the second, he is dressed as a rapper in a costume he wore to a Halloween party. The hashtag poses a rhetorical question, he says, "but in reality it's something we ask ourselves every day as African Americans".

A picture of a black man making a graduation speech, and another dressed up as Kanye West The hashtag was created by CJ Lawrence, pictured here

Another set of photos was posted by a journalism student from Maryland, who only wanted to be known by his first name, Benjamin. In the first picture he is seen in his army reserve uniform, and in the second he is dressed as a gangster holding a toy gun. "#IfTheyGunnedMeDown would they use my pic on the left or the right?" his tweet asked. Explaining his rationale to BBC Trending, Benjamin says "I knew it had potential to take off as a major social statement, from Black Twitter to American journalism outlets."

Another example "Would I be labeled an honor grad or a blunt smokah?" asked one user

The hashtag has proved wildly popular and been used more than 100,000 times in the last 24 hours. "#IfTheyGunnedMeDown Tweets should be required reading in every journalism class in America," said one commentator.

Reporting by Sam Judah

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Diner offers prayer discount

Prayer receipt from Mary's Gourmet Diner

A North Carolina diner that offers discounts to praying customers has ignited an internet firestorm across the US.

For the past four years, Mary's Gourmet Restaurant in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, had been surprising customers with a 15% discount if they prayed or meditated before meals.

"It could be anything - just taking a moment to push away the world," says Mary Haglund, the owner. "I never asked anyone who they were praying to - that would be silly. I just recognised it as an act of gratitude."

However, it wasn't until customer Jordan Smith shared her receipt with a Christian radio station on 30 July that the diner and its discount went viral.

"There was no signage anywhere that promoted the prayer discount. We just ordered our food and prayed over it once it arrived," says Smith. "It wasn't until the end when they brought the bill over and it said 15% discount for praying in public."

To Smith's surprise, the post received thousands of likes and shares on Facebook.

"It was fun to watch and see how quickly it got popular," Smith says. "As a Christian, it was exciting to see so many people talk about prayer."

Haglund was bombarded with media attention from across the United States.

"I was pretty overwhelmed," she says. "I'm 61 years old so this internet technology blows my mind. It really makes you take a pause because there's a lot of people paying attention."

However, unbeknownst to her the discount may have been a violation of the Civil Rights Act, which was passed in the 1960s to protect US citizens from racial and religious discrimination.

"As a place of public accommodation, the Civil Rights Act requires the diner to offer goods and services, which we interpret to include discounts, without regard to religion, race, and national origin," says Elizabeth Cavell, a staff attorney at the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

Cavell sent a letter to the diner urging it to withdraw the discount.

"Most people can understand how discriminatory discounts are really unfair to the people that are not included in the preferred group," says Ms Cavell.

After receiving the letter, Haglund immediately stopped it, posting a sign on the front door to inform her patrons of the change.

"I applaud the Civil Rights bill and there was no malintent on our part, so we have discontinued the discount," says Haglund.

Smith regrets that her exposing of the discount led to its demise.

"I understand where Mary's coming from. Financially, she doesn't have the means to go further with the lawsuit or legal action," she said. "It's sad, I wish that it could continue to happen because it's such a unique discount."

Cavell says that discriminatory religious discounts, such as the diner's discount for public prayer, occur more frequently in the United States than one would think. She estimates that her foundation sends out 20 letters a year warning private businesses they are violating the Civil Rights Act.

Reporting by Annie P Waldman

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The president who threatened war on Twitter

President Aliyev President Aliyev posted a flurry of tweets about the conflict

Time was, heads of state would declare war in sombre tones through radio and television broadcasts. But on Thursday, the president of Azerbaijan appeared to make the grave announcement on Twitter instead.

"We are not living in peace, we are living in a state of war. Everyone must know this," President Ilham Aliyev posted, amidst a string of tweets about the violent clashes with Armenia that erupted last week.

The two countries dispute the ownership of Nagorno-Karabakh, a region in south-west Azerbaijan. Although it lies within Azerbaijan's borders, the government does not exercise control in the region, whose population is 90 per cent ethnic Armenian.

The last 10 days have seen the bloodiest fighting for two decades, prompting Mr Aliyev to launch his tirade on the social network. "We will restore our sovereignty. The flag of Azerbaijan will fly in all the occupied territories," he wrote, declaring "we are able to defeat them on the battlefield," soon afterwards.

The novelty of his approach was not lost on his audience, who offered a live commentary on Aliyev's posts. "Shows how far Twitter has come as a diplomatic platform. Now even wars are declared here..." wrote one user. And of course, it left him open to being heckled in real time. "@presidentaz just try :) we will kill you and your soldiers," said one, "Dream big, fail big," said another, and "Go home Ilham, you're drunk," replied a third.

The conflict began around the time of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, of which both Azerbaijan and Armenia were part. An estimated 30,000 people were killed in the six years prior to a ceasefire in 1994. There are now fears that the current disruption could see the return of more intense fighting the region.

Reporting by Sam Judah

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Muddy noodles and Chinese propaganda

Soldiers eating noodles around a bowl of dirty water The offending image was shared widely on Weibo, China's answer to Twitter

This photograph - of a group of soldiers eating instant noodles - was supposed to instil a sense of national pride in China's citizens. Instead, it caused outrage, and has led to a bizarre string of apologies and denials from two state-owned media giants.

The soldiers were part of a rescue team sent to Yunnan province in the wake of Sunday's earthquake, which has claimed more than 600 lives to date. The picture suggests they had to cook their noodles in dirty water.

The image was seized upon by two government-controlled media outlets: Chinese National Radio and the Global Times newspaper. Both ran reports heralding the soldiers' bravery. These men stood tall in the face of adversity, the stories said, with or without clean water.

But few were impressed. Citizens took to Weibo, China's answer to Twitter, to criticise the government for its amateur performance. "Where is taxpayers' money going? What about the huge annual military expenditure?" asked one, dismayed that soldiers were left without the most basic provisions. "If this happened in a democracy, someone would have to resign," said another.

The furore was embarrassing for the Chinese authorities on two levels. First, the military appeared disorganised and overstretched, despite the vast resources at its disposal. And second, part of its great propaganda machine - in the form of two state-owned media outlets - was made to look out of touch.

And the story does not end there. Perhaps worried about the reaction online, the Global Times quickly backtracked, publishing a new story to say the soldiers were actually well stocked with fresh water. By contrast, China National Radio stood by the original tale. Soldiers had indeed eaten the muddy noodles, they said, even claiming their journalists had eaten them too. Within hours, a senior editor from the Global Times issued a statement saying both versions of the story were true - the soldiers had fresh water but chose to eat noodles prepared by locals, who had none.

Whether the soldiers ate the noodles through choice or necessity may never be known. But the episode has posed far greater questions about how the Chinese government spends taxpayers' money, and whether it can continue to control the political narrative in a social media age. On Weibo, the debate rages on.

Reporting by Sam Judah and Vincent Ni

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How to stay alive in Libya

Libyan survival tips

Civilians caught up in the ongoing struggle for control of Libya have started sharing survival tips on Twitter.

Since the 2011 revolution, violence in Libya's two biggest cities Tripoli and Benghazi has become a daily occurrence. There is no effective army to control almost 2,000 armed groups that have sprung up since Colonel Gaddafi was deposed.

Twitter users are now sharing helpful, often poignant, safety tips as there is very little official advice.

Video produced by Paul I. Harris.

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#SexySocialism and the Scottish debate

The two leaders shake hands at the debate

Alex Salmond's televised showdown with Alistair Darling triggered a storm of activity on social media, as each side tried to amplify their arguments online.

The Yes campaign was so keenly aware of the digital debate running alongside the traditional broadcast, that it issued a guide to its supporters on what to say. Entitled "Your guide to the issues in the STV referendum debate", the document asked followers to tweet - and retweet - particular points. Posting that Scotland "is one of the very wealthiest nations on the planet", was encouraged, as was the line that a No vote would lead to "the worst of both worlds".

The catch-all hashtag #ScotDecides has been used more than 140,000 times in the past 24 hours, and was littered with accompanying messages from both camps. Three flashpoints emerged: the most intensely tweeted moments of the debate all occurred during the cross examination stage, when each politician tried to trip the other up.

Anne-Marie Tomchak reports on the reaction on social media.

Jamie Bartlett, from think tank Demos, noted a more unusual hashtag that came into play. Hundreds of tweeters used #SexySocialism, a phrase popularised by the parody account @AngrySalmond, which drew attention throughout the night. The account has achieved a curious feat in both mocking SNP leader's vanity, and displaying affection for his foibles. "I keep walking out from behind the lectern to show off my awesome physique... #SexySocialism," it tweeted, as the real Salmond left his podium to address the studio audience. Of course, Angry Salmond claimed victory at the end of the night. "I won. Obviously", came shortly after "Darling is crying backstage. LOL".

A tweet from a parody twitter account

One of the most shared tweets came from another parody account - @Queen_UK. "This is the worst game show ever," it read, showing the two leaders shaking hands against the gaudy backdrop of the television studio. The humour wasn't limited to spoof accounts, either. The debate was only broadcast in Scotland by STV, and when a deluge of foreign viewers attempted to watch the debate online, the channel's livestream crashed, leaving most outside the country in the dark. "If the STV player is a sign of what infrastructure would be like in an independent Scotland, everyone should definitely vote no," quipped a Telegraph journalist.

A map showing the location of tweets about the debate

This heatmap shows when and where tweets flared up across the globe over the course of the debate - and offers an indication of the accompanying sentiment. As expected the majority of tweets were from Scotland and the rest of the UK, but was discussed across Europe, the US and Asia as well.

Reporting by Sam Judah

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Turkey's Twitter turnaround?

Four months ago Turkey's Prime Minister Erdogan vowed to wipe out Twitter. But now he is seeking election as the President, he's using social media to campaign.

However, that doesn't mean there are no blocks on anti-government Twitter accounts. In fact, under new court orders, an account that tweets against Erdogan with over a million followers has been withheld from view in Turkey.

From Istanbul, Mukul Devichand of #BBCtrending reports on Turkey's social media warfare and the trends making waves ahead of Sunday's vote.

Video journalist Neil Meads.

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The Ebola 'cure' that offers false hope

A message saying a plant can cure Ebola Notes like this are being widely shared on messaging apps

A message declaring that a plant can "cure" Ebola is being widely shared via mobile phone in West Africa - but the claim is not true, and may be offering false hope to those living amidst the outbreak.

"Bitter-Kola has been internationally verified to cure Ebola", reads the note, which is being circulated on messaging apps and other social media. "Pls do not forget to share cheers!!!" it concludes. Bitter-Kola is another name for Garcinia kola - a plant that grows in parts of West Africa and has been used for centuries in folk medicine to treat colds and fevers. Stories suggesting that the plant holds the key to a cure have also been reported in some parts of the African media, raising hopes further still. So where did the idea come from, and how has it taken hold?

Back in 1999, some early stage laboratory tests did indeed show promising signs that a compound from the plant might halt the deadly virus. The tests were widely reported, including in this article on the BBC website. Much of the copy from that 15 year old report has been recently republished in current African news articles. Crucially, the findings were never taken forward into more advanced tests, either on animals or humans, and no drug was ever approved for use. Today, an array of treatments are being investigated, but none involve Garcinia kola.

The story has spread so widely that Nigeria's health minister - Onyebuchi Chukwu - has now made a statement refuting its claims. "As I speak to you now, there is no proof yet of any such fruit. I repeat, there is no proof yet of any fruit," he said, according to the Vanguard news website. The health ministries in Sierra Leone and Liberia have done the same.

Professor David Haymann of Public Health England confirmed to BBC trending that the plant should not be relied upon as a defence against the virus. "It would be wrong to place false hope in a medicine that has not at least been first studied and shown to be effective in animal models," he said.

Garcinia kola Garcinia kola has not been approved as a cure for Ebola

Reporting by Sam Judah

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The mystery Turk gagged on Twitter

An anti-government protester in Turkey The country has seen widespread anti-government protests over the past year

Days before Turkey votes, an anti-government account with almost a million followers has been blocked - but this time, rather than authorities jamming the internet, Twitter itself has closed the account down

Turkey's Presidential elections are only days away, and Recep Tayyip Erdogan - the current Prime Minister - is the front runner. In the middle of it all @fuatavni, a bitterly anti-government anonymous Twitter account, was blocked in Turkey in the early hours of this morning. It's still visible outside the country, but Turkish internet users get a "withheld" message when they try and view the account.

This is an echo of recent history. During Turkey's local elections in March, a court order blocked Twitter for several days. Back then, similar anonymous accounts were tweeting alleged corruption leaks. This time around, it seems the courts were used to close one specific account. Twitter has told BBC Trending that it is complying with a court order to block the account, but supports "free expression", and has filed a legal challenge to get the order lifted.

The exact legal violation by @fuatavni is unclear, but the account - purported to be leaking inside information from Turkish police - recently published details of a series of recent arrests of police officers. On Monday, the account tweeted that more police officers would be arrested and, as predicted, 33 officers had been arrested across Turkey by this morning, according to reports. The arrests of police officers are linked to the last round of corruption leaks.

Who runs the @fuatavni account? There is speculation that followers of US based spiritual leader, Fetullah Gulen, a group who previously supported Prime Minister Erdogan, but now oppose him, are behind it. "It's difficult to say," says Abudulla Bozkurt, Ankara bureau chief for Zaman, a newspaper symapthetic to Gulen's teachings. "We only know that they know a lot and that they are close to people in the government, but we don't know if they are affiliated".

There's a twist: the person behind the account seemed to know it would get blocked, tweeting as much two weeks ago, and even suggesting an alternative account to follow - @fuatavnifuat.

Prime Minister Erdogan remains the favourite to become the new President and is campaigning on Twitter. The new account @fuatavnifuat has since tweeted "you cannot close my account like this. Don't be afraid, be terrified"

Reporting by India Rakusen, Mukul Devichand and Esra Dogramaci

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'I believe you - it's not your fault'

Mary Adkins says the blog is aimed at teenagers who have been sexually assaulted

"I believe you - It's not your fault" is a blog where victims of sexual assault can share their stories.

It was started two weeks ago from a secret Facebook group for women writers. One of them wrote a post about a 12-year-old girl, a friend of her daughter's, who had been the victim of an assault.

"It's cat-calling, it's intimidating stares, it's a man reaching into a car window and just grabbing my boob when I was 16," says Mary Adkins, a New York lawyer.

Seattle-based writer Lindy West wanted to create a blog where women can share their stories of past abuse, hoping to reach that child and others in need of support.

The blog got 3,000 notes and 2,300 followers in the first two weeks. West, the curator of the blog, says she is not posting more than two stories a day, but already has the next two months covered.

Video by Anna Bressanin and Regan Morris

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Jeremy Bowen and the Twitter conspiracy

False image that appeared on Twitter This image featuring a false statement was circulated widely on Twitter

The absence of Jeremy Bowen, the BBC's Middle East editor, from recent news bulletins has spawned a conspiracy theory that has taken on a life of its own on Twitter.

At the end of July, Bowen wrote a piece in the New Statesman about the ongoing crisis in the region. In the article he said he'd seen "no evidence" that Hamas had used Palestinians as human shields. Some days later he disappeared from our screens, and yesterday a rumour began circulating that the BBC had pulled Bowen out of the country in response to a complaint from Israel.

Accompanied by an image featuring Bowen and the BBC logo, tweeters claimed: "Israel complaint [sic] to BBC and said that this was pro-Hamas and BBC immediately pulled him out of Gaza." It isn't clear who created the image, but the correspondent's name has appeared on the social network more than 3,000 times in the last 12 hours. Many retweeted it, or paraphrased its claims.

Others hit back. "Stop retweeting that 'BBC has removed Jeremy Bowen from Gaza' link. Just because someone put it on a jpeg doesn't make it true," tweeted one.

Few spotted Bowen's own explanation, posted on Friday. When asked why he'd stopped tweeting, he replied "because I'm on holiday". This morning, Jonathan Munro, the BBC's head of newsgathering tweeted: "Nonsense that @BowenBBC left Gaza under Israeli pressure. After Syria, Iraq, Israel & Gaza he's on holiday." The BBC later released an official statement to reiterate Munro's words.

BBC Trending can confirm that Jeremy will indeed be back in his usual capacity very soon.

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Vietnam's 'online army'

A man who has been attacked, and is bleeding Nguyen was attacked in May, after posting pro-democracy messages on Facebook

A string of Vietnamese activists have had their Facebook accounts suspended, and claim to have been targeted by an 'online army' sponsored by the government.

When David Nguyen - a human rights lawyer - tried to log in to the site, he found his account had been blocked. He was faced with a message from Facebook which said he was suspected of posting fraudulent personal information. He wasn't the only one. At least 100 users - mostly pro-democracy and human rights campaigners - have faced similar treatment, according to Viet Tan, a political group who oppose the communist government.

Although the blocks have been implemented by Facebook, it isn't the site itself that's to blame. Nguyen says he, and many like him, have been targeted by a rival team of site members - or "opinion shapers" - organised and paid by the government.

If that's the case, then how does their strategy work? When faced with multiple reports that someone is flouting the site rules, Facebook has little option but to suspend and investigate the account in question, and only reactivate it if the member can prove they are who they say they are. So government sponsored users are exploiting the rule, and systematically reporting the accounts of anyone who poses a challenge to the regime. Duy Hoang, a spokesperson for Viet Tan says this "online army" has been in operation for around two years, and earlier this year the government acknowledged its existence.

The difficulty for the campaigners is that many have indeed created accounts using false information, through fear they may be targeted by the government in the real world. Nguyen - whose Facebook account uses his real name - was attacked at a coffee shop in May after posting information about a protest against China. Five men he says were state sponsored security officers smashed a glass over his head three days after uploading the information.

In order to reactivate their accounts, some campaigners have sent confirmation of their real names, and other personal information, to Facebook. They are now far more likely to hold back from commenting freely on the site, says Nguyen.

The human rights lawyer spoke to BBC Trending about the series of suspensions

Facebook has particular significance in Vietnam, where traditional media is entirely controlled by the government. Although the site is officially banned, it is used by around 25 million people in the country. "In a society where there is no free media... Facebook is the new town square," says Hoang. Campaigners use it to organise groups and hold mass discussions.

Neither the Vietnamese government nor Facebook would comment on this specific series of account suspensions. Facebook released a statement reiterating its rule that all members must use their real names.

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Trends of the week - in 60 seconds

What's been trending on social media around the world this week?

From women posting laughing selfies, to the campaign for solidarity with Iraqi Christians, BBC Trending brings you some of the top trends - in 60 seconds.

Produced by Ravin Sampat and Laura Gray

Images courtesy of Getty, AFP, Ece Temelkuran, Hazal Naz Besleyici

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.


The boy on a beach with an RPG

Young boy firing a rocket propelled grenade on a beach A screengrab of the video that been widely watched and reposted

A video of a young boy firing a rocket propelled grenade (RPG) on a beach has shocked many people. But what's the story behind it?

The young boy looks tiny as he stands on a beach, places an RPG on his shoulder and fires. There's a huge bang and smoke billows all around. All the while two adults look on and encourage him.

It's unclear who the boy or the adults are. The video itself has been posted multiple times. Though it's being widely viewed now, it appears to have been first posted at least as far back as January.

Though some of the postings refer to it as a "Palestinian child firing an RPG on Gaza Beach", it actually appears to be from Libya. The accents in the video are Libyan, and some have suggested it may have been on a beach in the Sirte area.

Libyans have taken to Twitter to voice their condemnation describing the scene as "insane" and a "glimpse of our future".

"Since the revolution almost every household has a gun," says Libyan journalist Hassan Morajea. "I went to one friend's house and his five-and-a-half-year-old brother came out with a pistol in his hand."

During the Libyan civil war people seized weapons held by Muammar Gaddafi and more were imported to support the rebels.

There are believed to be at least 40 major storage houses across the country which are still being looted, as well as a significant black market for guns.

Efforts by the government and NGOs to get people to give up their weapons have largely been unsuccessful.

"Not enough has been done to convince people that if they hand over weapons they will be kept safe. If you have a weapon you don't want to give it to the state because you think it will go to militias," says Morajea.

Libya has been gripped by a wave of violence since the 2011 uprising against Gaddafi.

Although in this video no-one was hurt, Hassan Morajea fears that gun ownership could lead to more deadly outcomes if the government does not act. "People of my country don't seem to understand that these weapons kill. They are not toys."

Reporting by Laura Gray

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Baseball trade prompts Detroit-bashing tweet

Major League Baseball player David Price. Star pitcher David Price is traded from the struggling Tampa Bay Rays to the first-place Detroit Tigers

The 31 July trade deadline can be a trying time for US baseball fans. A favourite team could land key players to help win a championship or throw in the towel for the season by offloading high-priced talent.

It was just such a tale of two cities on Thursday when the Tampa Bay Rays shipped star pitcher David Price to Detroit in a blockbuster deal.

Fans in Detroit were thrilled. Those in Tampa were less than happy.

The local Fox affiliate station expressed its dismay with the following ill-advised tweet to its 40,000 followers:

An image tweeted by Fox 13 Tampa Bay comparing Detroit and Tampa Bay

The image, which was retweeted thousands of times, prompted immediate outcry. While sports rivalry talk between US cities is nothing new, picking on Detroit - which has seen its population plummet and recently had to file for bankruptcy - was seen by many as a low blow.

"Making fun of urban decay and poverty to make a #joke about #sports," writes SBNation's Grant Brisbee. "Very, very classy."

Yahoo Sports's David Brown writes that Detroit's economic hard times makes it an easy target for potshots, but St Petersburg, Florida - where the Rays play - actually has a higher property crime rate.

He adds: "If you've ever actually been to Detroit, and interacted with the people who work and live there, you'd never consider hurting their feelings like this."

Renee Monforton, director of communications at the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau, told BBC Trending that the Tampa TV station's tweet was disappointing and that Price will be pleasantly surprised when he arrives in the Motor City.

"When we get people to come here, their perception completely changes," she says. "Detroit is a surprising place. If they haven't been here in a while, they really haven't been to Detroit."

Detroit prides itself on being a baseball town. Last year the Tigers drew 3,083,397 fans to their stadium, ranking it sixth in the league in overall attendance. Tampa Bay was dead last, with 1,510,300 tickets sold. That gave the local Detroit Fox station more than enough material for the following rebuttal:

A tweet from Fox 2 News Detroit comparing Tampa Bay and Detroit.

After weathering the uproar, the Fox Tampa station issued an apology and deleted its original tweet.

Reporting by Anthony Zurcher

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The hashtag that almost wasn't

Jenifer Gil and other employees Protesters now take advantage of both old-fashioned signs and digital means of demonstration

#MarketBasket has been trending in the north-eastern US to show support for striking shop workers.

Just a few months ago, however, some protest leaders didn't even know what a hashtag was.

The Boston Globe reports that both the employees and the management at Market Basket, a family-owned grocery currently under fire for releasing its beloved chief executive officer, were not well versed in social media.

The company had email but rarely used it, and did not have a website until after the controversy began this summer.

"When you work in a supermarket, the colleague you need to talk to is never more than a few aisles away," writes the Globe.

Protesters were communicating via flip phones and getting the message out with hand-printed signs until anonymous supporters started a webpage and Facebook group. The Facebook group now has almost 80,000 followers. The #MarketBasket hashtag, as well as the locations of some scheduled protests, have been trending in the Boston area.

The BBC's Kim Gittleson travelled to Boston to report on the standoff between Market Basket's owners and employees that has left shelves empty and customers conflicted.

Read her despatch here.

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The rise of 'We are N'

With Isis militants still in control of Mosul in Iraq, Christians there are facing repression.

The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isis) took control of the city in early June.

Militants have marked Christian houses with the letter "N" in Arabic, to single them out for harsh treatment.

On social media, thousands have taken the symbol and reversed its meaning - using it to express solidarity with Iraqi Christians.

Produced by Alvaro A Ricciardelli and Anne-Marie Tomchak

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Poles eat apples to annoy Putin

Compilation of apple images on Instagram

An apple a day keeps the doctor away. And over the past day there's been a surge of people eating apples in Poland - but not for medical reasons. Poles have been posting images of apples on social media as a way of protesting against Russia.

On Wednesday, Russia announced a ban on some fruit and vegetable imports - including apples - from Poland "for sanitary reasons". Polish food producers say the ban is politically motivated as a response to EU sanctions, a claim Russia denies. In response, Poles have been showing their support for local farmers by campaigning on social media. It started on Twitter when the journalist Grzegorz Nawacki shared an image of himself eating an apple and used the hashtag #jedzjabłka, which means "eat apples".

Tweet by Grzegorz Nawacki

"It's the most hurtful thing that could happen to Polish farmers. Over half of apples produced in Poland annually are exported to Russia." says Nawacki. "I thought the best way to help them would be to start eating more apples and drinking more cider. That way some of the apples will get consumed and people will show solidarity with farmers." The hashtags #jedzjabłka and #EatApples began trending on Twitter and within hours the humble Polish apple had become an internet meme. A Facebook page called Eat Apples to Annoy Putin is gathering some of the most popular parody pictures and has so far been liked almost 17,000 times.

The campaign has made national news headlines in Poland and the country's agriculture minister is among a number of politicians who've joined the campaign. One of the country's largest supermarket chains, POLOmarket, has also been actively endorsing the hashtag on its Facebook and Twitter pages. A special promotion on its website says, "POLOmarket joins the nationwide #jedzjabłka campaign to popularise the consumption of this great national fruit" and it features recipes where apples are a key ingredient. "I didn't expect it to become so big," Nawacki told BBC Trending. "Perhaps consumers realise they can shape and influence the reality."

Anger is growing in Europe over Russia's alleged relationship with Ukrainian rebels. The latest round of EU sanctions on Russia have been described as the toughest since the Cold War. Polish food producers have interpreted Russia's measures on Polish exports as the Kremlin hitting back. There are also reports that Russia may extend restrictions on food imports to the rest of the EU.

Reporting by Anne-Marie Tomchak

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The love story that's captivated Kenya

Sarika Patel and Timothy Khamala smiling

Kenyans on social media have been gripped by a love story between a Kenyan woman of Indian descent, and a man from the Bukusu ethnic group.

Kenyans on Twitter are in a distinctly lovey-dovey mood.

"A village Cinderella story," tweeted one woman. "Love beyond culture, colour, religion... simply amazing."

"This is like a movie. I can't believe what my eyes are seeing," wrote one man. And so it goes on...

Much of the discussion is on the hashtag #MyBukusuDarling, which has now been used more than 8,000 times.

The couple in question are Sarika Patel, 24, and Timothy Khamala, 25 who live in village in the Webuye area, in the west of Kenya. As well as race, there's a class element to their story. Patel is the daughter of a wealthy businessman, while Khamala is from a poor family who live in a simple mud hut.

They first met four years ago while he was washing her father's car. Sarika has just moved in with Khamala and they plan to get married, but her family are said to strongly disapprove.

"These are the kind of stories Kenyans love - they are tired of politics," says Lindah Oguttu, a news anchor at KTN Kenya, the TV station which first reported the story. "It stretches the parameters. It's a no-go zone - Indians do not marry blacks and blacks do not marry Indians," she says.

Start Quote

Why should it be headline news? We are all human beings”

End Quote Rasna Warah Kenyan writer

Oguttu was also the first to use the hashtag #MyBukusuDarling. An hour before the show, a number of senior editors met to discuss the top items on the programme, she says, and decided to create a special hashtag to encourage people to discuss the story. And it clearly worked.

Kenya saw serious inter-ethnic violence after the 2007 election, in which more than 1,000 people were killed. Many have interpreted the couple's love story in this light. "#MyBukusuDarling is a good example of our Kenyan dream. The Kenya we all want to live in. A Kenya of Peace Love and Unity," tweeted Phyllis Kandie, the cabinet secretary for East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism.

There are no up-to-date figures on how many people in Kenya are of Asian or Indian descent. Some estimates put it at around 100,000 out of an overall population of 42 million.

And some are somewhat nonplussed by the attention the story has got. "What is this obsession inter-racial relationships? Why should it be headline news? We are all human beings," says Rasna Warah, a Kenyan writer of Indian descent who is herself married to black Kenyan. "We have to move beyond the race thing - either you are Kenyan or you are not."

But, it seems, cultural differences may be playing a part in the story of Patel and Khamala. In Kenya, it is traditional for a man to pay dowry to a woman. Among Kenyan Indians, it is the other way around.

According to reports in the Kenyan media, Khamala's family have opted to take the Indian approach - asking Patel's family to pay. Some on social media have criticised this as "greedy" and an "embarrassment" to Bukusu society. One man suggested a compromise: "They should respect each other's cultures, so both should pay dowry."

Reporting by Cordelia Hebblethwaite

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The mysterious woman walking across the US

Some locals have called her a ghost, others have called her a prophet, but regardless of her true identity, a mysterious woman shrouded in black has left Americans spellbound as she travels by foot across the country.

This "woman in black," as she has been named on social media, has walked more than 1,000 miles, acquiring a loyal social media following.

One Facebook page has accumulated nearly 60,000 followers.

So who is the real "woman in black" and why is she walking from Alabama to Virginia?

BBC Trending went to West Virginia to meet the "woman in black".

Video by Annie Waldman and Franz Strasser

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending


David Duchovny is a national symbol in Russia

Fans of the US television shows "The X Files" and "Californication" know of the actor David Duchovny. But over the last few days, he has acquired a different type of stardom in Russia.

Duchovny took on a role in an advert for a Russian drinks company that celebrated the country's national identity.

With tensions between the US and Russia rising over Ukraine, Duchovny's name is trending in Russia.

Mukul Devichand of BBC Trending reports.

Video produced by Paul Harris.

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Unrepentant, Dawkins angers followers

Richard Dawkins

Bestselling author Richard Dawkins tried to rank types of rape on Twitter - and created a mini-firestorm.

He embraces controversy. His 1976 book, The Selfish Gene, re-examined Darwinian theory. One of his bestselling books is called, simply, The God Delusion. But Richard Dawkins is in the news this week because he wrote about rape on Twitter while trying to explain the nature of a logical argument.

On Tuesday BBC Trending reached him in Oxford and asked if he had anything to say about social media. He was concise on the phone.

"Bye-bye," he said - and hung up. He was more expansive on Twitter.

In a recent tweet, he wrote: "Date rape is bad. Stranger rape at knifepoint is worse." He added: "If you think that's an endorsement of date rape, go away and learn how to think."

Not everybody agreed.

One of his followers, The OSC, wrote: "[R]ape is a legal term, there are no degrees - I think you need to be more careful in your terminology, Richard." Meanwhile Meral Hussein-Ece, a member of the House of Lords, suggested that Dawkins "needs to take a vow of silence."

This kind of thing is nothing new.

Dawkins, shown with blogger Ariane Sherine and the Guardian's Polly Toynbee, in London in 2009 Dawkins, with blogger Ariane Sherine and the Guardian's Polly Toynbee, in London in 2009, likes a good fight

In 2011 an prominent female atheist made a video in which she discussed being propositioned at a secular conference. Dawkins responded in the comments of another blog with a satirical letter addressed to "Muslima".

"Your husband is allowed to beat you, and you'll be stoned to death if you commit adultery," he wrote in the letter. "But stop whining, will you. Think of the suffering your poor American sisters have to put up with."

That was a swipe at American women. He has chosen other targets.

In 2013, he wrote on Twitter: "All the world's Muslims have fewer Nobel Prizes than Trinity College, Cambridge. They did great things in the Middle Ages, though."

In the most recent incident, as usual, he stood behind his words - refusing to apologise and mocking his critics.

"What I have learned today is that there are people on Twitter who think in absolutist terms, to an extent I wouldn't have believed possible," he wrote.

It's nice to know that someone as smart as Dawkins is still finding out about the world.

Reporting by Tara McKelvey

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The women having a laugh in Turkey

Hazal Naz Besleyici Hazal Naz Besleyici doesn't want the government telling her whether she can laugh or not

Women across Turkey are posting photos of themselves laughing and smiling on social media. Why?

Women should not laugh in public. So said Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc in a speech on Monday about "moral corruption" in Turkey. "Chastity is so important," he said. "She will not laugh in public."

His comments have prompted a big backlash from women on social media in Turkey, with thousands posting photos of themselves laughing and smiling on Twitter and Instagram. There have been more than 300,000 tweets using the term "kahkaha" - the Turkish word for "laughter" - and on the hashtags "Resist Laughter" (#direnkahkaha) and "Resist Woman" (#direnkadin).

Many suggested the government should focus on issues like rape, domestic violence and the marriage of girls at a young age - rather than women laughing in public.

Ece Temelkuran Ece Temelkuran posted this photo to her Twitter page

"It was an extremely outrageous and conservative statement," says writer and political commentator Ece Temelkuran, who has almost one million followers on Twitter. She was among the first to tweet an image of herself smiling - and encouraged other women to do the same. "My whole timeline was full of women laughing - which was extraordinary, and kind of beautiful," she told BBC Trending.

On Instagram it was a similar story. "I'm free and whether I laugh or not is my decision," says 23-year-old Hazal Naz Besleyici who posted a photo of herself with a broad grin in response to the comments. "They should not interfere in our life," she told BBC Trending.

Many men in Turkey have joined in the criticism of the deputy prime minister. "Oh God, let this be just a joke," tweeted Fatih Portakal, a famous Turkish TV presenter. "If women can't laugh in public, then men should not cry in public," he added - a reference to the deputy prime minister's reputed propensity to shed a tear when listening to speeches by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

A composite image showing women laughing and smiling posted on Instagram Thousands of images have been shared on Instagram

Erdogan himself prompted a similar reaction in Turkey two years ago when he referred to abortion as "murder". Many women posted photos of their stomachs to social media, with the words, "My body, my decision."

The first round of the presidential election is due on 10 August, and among the hundreds of thousands of comments and images about women laughing, was a tweet from one of the contenders challenging Erdogan for the job, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu. Clearly seeing an opportunity to seize the mood, he wrote: "More than anything else, our country needs women to smile and to hear everybody's laughter."

In his speech, the deputy prime minister also called on men not to be "womanisers" and blamed TV shows for encouraging teenagers to become "sex addicts". While the general tide of opinion on social media was damning in response, he did get some support. One man tweeted to say Arinc was simply trying to uphold "moral values" that form "part of Turkish culture".

Reporting by Cordelia Hebblethwaite

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Using social media to fight against Ebola

Gloves and boots used by medical staff treating people with Ebola in Guinea Ebola has spread to Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria

West Africa is in the grip of the world's deadliest outbreak of Ebola, and many in the region are using social media to educate each other on the symptoms and prevention methods.

#FactsOnEbola has been trending in Nigeria, with many sharing ways to prevent contracting the virus. "Symptoms of Ebola typically include: weakness, fever, aches, diarrhoea, vomiting and stomach pain #FactsOnEbola" tweeted one man in Benin City.

"I started #FactsOfEbola this morning after having a conversation about the disease with friends," says Japheth Omojuwa, a Nigerian blogger with over 100,000 Twitter followers. "I have a civic responsibility to serve the public - my followers and my country," he told BBC Trending.

Across Africa, social media is used for campaigning, for example the recent #BringBackOurGirls campaign which highlighted the plight of the girls kidnapped by Boko Haram. But when it comes to a disease, isn't it the role of the authorities to help educate the public? Omojuwa admits he's not a medical expert, but says he's keen to spread as many facts as possible. "I think it's better to bridge the gap between ignorance and information," he says. Since he started the hashtag on Tuesday morning, it's had nearly 2,000 tweets.

Across the border in Ghana, people are scared, says Nana Boakye-Yiadom, a journalist with Accra-based Citi 97.3FM. The radio station started the hashtag #EbolaFacts and is tweeting out information about the effects of Ebola and prevention methods that can be used. That hashtag has also had just over 2,000 tweets. Ghana's Immigration Service has openly admitted that its personnel were "not well-equipped" to deal with the outbreak "let alone be in the position to hold anybody suspected of having the virus".

"The question everybody here is asking is 'What if it comes?' We are not prepared," says Boakye-Yiadom. "We have a huge following online and the perceptions on the street of Ebola are wrong. By tweeting out information we got the hashtag trending and people can now see the information around the disease." His colleague Mawuli Tsikata, who devised the campaign for the radio station says there isn't enough education about Ebola and the situation on the ground is frightening. "Ghanaians are big on social media and so we tapped into that. It's our role to educate the public," he says.

Reporting by Ravin Sampat

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China's 'David Letterman'

The comedian Brother Sway is often described as China's answer to David Letterman.

Based in the US, but originally from Beijing, Brother Sway gets millions of visitors to his blog every week.

He tells #BBCtrending about how social media is changing the nature of comedy in China and breaking boundaries.

And he reacts to the country's latest internet hit, a spoof video poking fun at North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un, which has since been removed from the Chinese site Tencent.

Video journalist Anne-Marie Tomchak

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Meet the 'Women Against Feminism'

Has feminism become unnecessary and irrelevant?

A movement of young women against feminism is growing online. They've been posting selfies on social media in protest against what they say has become a "toxic" movement.

It started on Tumblr, before moving to Twitter and Facebook. There's been a strong reaction from feminists themselves, who say their ideas have been misunderstood.

BBC Trending meets the women involved on both sides.

Video Journalist Greg Brosnan.

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About BBC Trending

A hand-picked selection of stories trending on social media around the world. Includes posts on the Magazine's Trending blog, twice weekly videos via @BBCWorld and a weekly radio programme on Saturday on BBC World Service.

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