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17 December 2014 Last updated at 18:24

Cubans tweet reactions to historic diplomatic thaw

Despite heavy restrictions on the internet in Cuba, social networking sites reflect the views of some inside the country in the wake of a landmark agreement with the United States.

Around a quarter of Cubans have used the internet, according to the World Bank, although access is heavily regulated and very expensive.

Immediately after addresses by President Castro and President Obama, a map of tweets inside Cuba clearly showed the main topics of conversation.

Trendsmap snapshot of Twitter trends in Cuba at 1730 GMT Wednesday: among the most prominent tags are the United States ("estadounidense" "eeuu"), Raul Castro, and Alan Gross. Trendsmap snapshot of Twitter trends in Cuba at 1730 GMT Wednesday: among the most prominent tags are the United States ("estadounidense" "eeuu"), Raul Castro, and Alan Gross.

Twitter users inside Cuba who allow their tweets to be located on a map are of course not necessarily representative of the Cuban population as a whole - but many of those sending out messages were in celebratory mood and welcoming the release of five prisoners by the US.

Translation: "Pop open bottles of champagne in every Cuban home. This is something we have to celebrate #FreetheFive #Cuba #LosCinco (The Five)"  Translation: "Pop open bottles of champagne in every Cuban home. This is something we have to celebrate #FreetheFive #Cuba #LosCinco (The Five)".
Translation: “Live to tell the tale!! Barack Obama will announce measures on a historic day for Cuba and USA" Translation: “Live to tell the tale!!! Barack Obama will announce measures on a historic day for Cuba and USA"
Translation: "There are a lot of emotions to hold in. Right now all Cuba is on front of the TV and the radio TODAY SHOULD BE A GREAT DAY!!!!" Translation: "There are a lot of emotions to hold in. Right now all Cuba is on front of the TV and the radio...TODAY SHOULD BE A GREAT DAY!!!!"
Translation: "How much desire of running, shouting, and going on the streets to hug everyone. Hurray #LosCinco (The Five), hurray #Cuba" Translation: "How much I want to run, shout and go on the streets to hug everyone. Hurray #LosCinco (The Five), hurray #Cuba"
Translation: "I called the university to say that I won't go today because they [the prisoners] are back. I'm going to buy pizza to celebrate on the roof terrace." Translation: "I called the university to say that I won't go today because they [the prisoners] are back. I'm going to buy pizza to celebrate on the roof terrace."

Reporting by Gabriela Torres and Mike Wendling

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All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


The surprising calm emerging from Russia's rouble crisis

A screen grab from Zenrus.ru A screen grab from Zenrus.ru

In the midst of spiralling inflation, falling oil prices, and economic sanctions, Russians are turning to … Zen.

It's a simple, calming website showing current exchange rates backed with pictures of clouds and soothing music that's being passed around Russian social media.

Mikhail Lisnyak told BBC Trending that he can't remember the specific moment when he had the idea for Zenrus.ru, but that it was inspired by the panic he saw around him about the rouble.

"I decided that people need to relax a little. So I designed a website where information was displayed with a relaxing screensaver and music," he says.

Translation: "Russian Zen. Since morning I meditate on exchange rates ... let's strengthen the rouble with the help of collective meditation!" Translation: "Russian Zen. Since morning I meditate on exchange rates ... let's strengthen the rouble with the help of collective meditation!"

Lisnyak says his site got two million hits on the day of the Russian central bank's dramatic decision to raise interest rates to 17%. Zenrus.ru has spawned a number of imitators including an homage to the apocalyptic final scene of Fight Club and another site that displays scantily-clad women alongside the latest rates.

Lisnyak says it could even earn him a few roubles, volatile though the currency might be at the moment.

"Initially, I spent just one evening making this website, but then when the number of visits began to grow, I had to work hard to make sure the site wouldn't fall down," he says. "But now I'm in talks about advertising. There are plenty of companies wanting to put their ads on the site."

A screen grab from Fight Club/exchange rate mash-up http://joyreactor.cc/kurs A screen grab from Fight Club/exchange rate mash-up http://joyreactor.cc/kurs

The dark, unique Russian sense of humour seems to be rising to the current economic challenge. One YouTube video compares the rouble to the Titanic, and other jokes are being shared on Twitter and the Russian-language network VKontakte. But the humour comes with a serious edge.

"This time the memes are not quite so hilariously funny because people do understand what's happening is very bad," says Anastasia Denisova, a social media researcher and Russian meme expert at the University of Westminster. "You can't really make fun of an economy because it's too big an issue."

The value of a currency is not as fertile ground for humour as the foibles of politicians and celebrities, but there are some hints online that the economic crisis is reflecting badly on those in power.

"This time there is a lot more criticism of Putin and the government," at least among liberal social media users, she says, although it's too early to tell whether the crisis will hurt the Russian president in the long term.

Reporting by Elizaveta Podshivalova, Samiha Nettikkara and Mike Wendling.

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


Israeli photographer 'horrified' at use of bloody shoe photo

bloody shoe

It's a tragic, heartbreaking image - but not for the reason you think.

A photo of a small child's bloody shoe has been widely shared on Twitter and Facebook in the wake of a Taliban attack on a school in Pakistan that's left at least 135 people dead - most of them children.

One tweeter says: "This image says its all #PeshawarAttack".

But the photo is not recent. A search on the photo-lookup site TinEye reveals it has been used in the past by both sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Bloody shoe on ground Edi Israel took another photo of the same shoe in Ashkelon in 2008, following a Palestinian rocket attack on Israel.

BBC Trending tracked down the photographer, Edi Israel, who says he took the photo while working as a freelancer in Ashkelon in May 2008. In that incident, a rocket was fired by Palestinian militants from Gaza into Israel, injuring dozens.

"I'm horrified to know that the picture has moved to Pakistan, and that it's being used like that," Edi Israel says. "This is a known phenomenon that people take a photo from one place and use it like it was elsewhere."

The "recycling" of shocking photos is indeed common on social media in the wake of attacks - for instance we reported on the sharing of old images under the hashtag #GazaUnderAttack earlier this year.

Edi Israel says he photographed the bloody shoe after it was dropped on the ground in a mall by a mother and daughter who were injured in the Ashkelon rocket attack. They both survived the incident; Israel visited them in hospital the following week.

The photographer, who has a long career in the region, says he wasn't aware his picture was being passed around in connection with the Peshawar attack until he was contacted by the BBC.

Meanwhile, another picture has been circulating online of victims of the Peshawar massacre - but the montage of images includes the photo of a young boy, Noah Pozner, who died in the Sandy Hook massacre in the United States in 2012.

Photo montage

Reporting by Gemma Newby

h/t Richard Vadon and Samiha Nettikkara

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


'India with Pakistan': school massacre solidarity

The first tweet that started the trend

Thousands of Indians are sending a message of support to Pakistan on Twitter in the wake of the Taliban school massacre in Peshawar.

The hashtag #IndiawithPakistan has taken off in a matter of hours, despite the long history of antagonism between the two countries.

The idea was spawned by Tehseen Poonawalla, an entrepreneur and newspaper columnist from Delhi, who was in the gym when the news about the attack started playing on the television channels he was watching.

"The visuals were horrific and I was getting updates from social media as well," he told BBC Trending. "Yesterday, everyone was moved by the hashtag [#Illridewithyou] which came up after the attack in Australia. And I thought it was time for India to stand up and express their support."

He sent the first tweet with the hashtag #IndiawithPakistan at 0816 GMT. Within six hours, the hashtag has been used 8,000 times and the number was growing rapidly.

#IndiawithPakistan message
Message from Times of India journalist

"When I started it, I did not realize that this would trend," Poonawalla says. I did not even know whether it would be perceived as a negative or positive hashtag. The support has been phenomenal and I think collectively, we need to fight hate. A lot of people from Pakistan have tweeted thanking me for starting this."

Thank you message to India

But other Twitter users have been critical of the hashtag.

"Nope!" responded user GOL Circle in India.

"Are you serious???" tweeted Manimala, an Indian living in the UK.

Pakistani tweet criticising hashtag Some Pakistani Twitter users have also been critical of the hashtag, like this user who has also changed their image to black in mourning for those killed in the massacre.

"There will be elements in every religion and country who take extreme positions," Poonawalla says in response. "But the fact that this is trending shows that humanity is trending. The majority of people in both India and Pakistan want peace. If people across the world can show solidarity, India can also stand up in support [for Pakistan]."

Reporting by Ruth Alexander and Samiha Nettikkara

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


Sydney siege hashtag #illridewithyou and its opponents

I'll ride with you note

Many Australians are still showing their support for Muslims using the hashtag #illridewithyou.

The trend started even as the siege in Sydney was ongoing on Monday. But, perhaps inevitably, a backlash has hit Twitter: #iwontridewithyou has been tweeted more than 3,000 times.

Only about a third of the tweets under the new tag are actually coming from Australia - with more than a quarter from the UK, and 15 percent from the US. Tweeters are referencing not only the Sydney attack but the Taliban massacre in Pakistan and other terror attacks.

Typical was user @QueeniesSoapbox who posted a picture taken in the aftermath of the 2005 London bombings.

@QueeniesSoapbox wouldn't give her name, but she told BBC Trending that she was an ex-member of the far-right English Defence League.

"I don't like Islam and the teachings of Islam. And I am within my right to have that opinion. And I don't like people trying to silence me," she says.

She says she was upset at the reaction to #illridewithyou, although she acknowledged that some people using that tag had good intentions.

"I don't want to go out and hurt anyone, or ban people from doing what they want to do, or purposely insult their religion," she says - although her Twitter feed does include several sweary attacks directed at Muslims in general (which is why we're not linking to it).

Tweet using the hashtag #iwontridewithyou

Other twitterers were posting graphic images of beheadings and abuse. Several British far-right groups have been tweeting using the hashtag.

The anti-Muslim chatter is however tiny compared to the main hashtag #illridewithyou, which was still trending worldwide on Tuesday, and has been used more than half a million times. Nearly half of those tweets have come from Australia.

Reporting by Mike Wendling

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


#BBCTrending radio: Irish water protests and Egypt's Spiderman

Protesters in Dublin Protesters object to water charges

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

This week:

Spiderman in Cairo

This week on BBC Trending we hear what happens when a superhero finds himself in Cairo. It's a project from 20-year-old photographer Hossam Atef, who shot videos of his friend dressed up as Spiderman performing everyday tasks - like trying to catch a bus. The joke is that Cairo Spiderman has met his match, because life is so impossible in Egypt that not even those with special powers can function.

Irish water protests

The Irish Government is changing the way people pay for their water and thousands have taken to the streets to protest. Currently most Irish people don't get water bills - it's paid for through taxes. But now the government has set up Irish Water, a semi-state body, which is installing water meters and will start sending bills from 1 January. Online there are numerous videos, tweets and memes calling for the proposed water charges to be dropped. We hear how people have been protesting online, and whether the government is taking any notice.

'Baby, where is your hair?'

And we speak to the man who makes comedy films about relationships - from a male perspective. Top Rope Zeus' spoof about an African-American woman who cuts her hair off and goes 'natural' has had millions of hits on Facebook, but has received mixed comments. We ask him why he made it and how he responds to criticism that it's sexist.

Presented by Anne-Marie Tomchak

Produced by Gemma Newby and Charlotte McDonald.

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


'I'll ride with you': siege solidarity

Bag with message of support on it

As a gunman holds people hostage in a cafe in Sydney, thousands of messages of support have been posted online for Muslims in Australia who are afraid of an Islamophobic backlash.

The spark was this post on Facebook by Rachael Jacobs, who said she'd seen a woman she presumed was Muslim silently removing her hijab while sitting next to her on the train: "I ran after her at the train station. I said 'put it back on. I'll walk with u'. She started to cry and hugged me for about a minute - then walked off alone'.

The story of Rachael's encounter with a woman in religious attire inspired this Twitter user, 'Sir Tessa', aka Tessa Kum: "If you reg take the #373 bus b/w Coogee/MartinPl, wear religious attire, & don't feel safe alone: I'll ride with you. @ me for schedule," user 'Sir Tessa' tweeted. Moments later she tweeted "Maybe start a hashtag? What's in #illridewithyou?"

Twitter message

Thousands of people have now joined the spontaneous campaign, offering to meet Muslim people at their local stations and to ride with them on their journey.

Sticker with message of support on it

"I saw one tweet that was just a very small act of kindness to a frightened Muslim women on public transport and it pretty much broke my heart," Tessa Kum told the BBC. "And it just seemed like something that there should be more of in the world. I can't say that I planned this at all. It has been amazing to watch this take off.

There were 40,000 tweets using the hashtag #Illridewithyou in just two hours, according to Twitter Australia; 150,000 in four hours. And it's been rapidly growing since.

Train with message of support

"Please, if you're going to use #illridewithyou, include journeys and times, make it genuinely useful not just a trendy thing to tweet," was the message from Sydney FC's official Twitter account.

Reporting by Ruth Alexander

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


India's 'Banksy' behind provocative graffiti

Mona Lisa

An artist who's been compared to Banksy is gripping audiences on the streets of an Indian city - and online.

Pictures of Guesswho's graffiti on walls and buildings in Kochi (Cochin), in Kerala state on India's southwest coast, are catching attention on the photo-sharing sites, Facebook and Reddit.

Kochi is in the midst of a huge art biennale, and Guesswho's graffiti seems to be a poke at the organised festival. The stencils are a clever mash-up of Western pop culture with Indian icons, and the artist's (or artists') style is certainly influenced by that anonymous yet famous British street artist, Banksy.

Guesswho spoke to BBC Tamil and BBC Trending: he or she wouldn't reveal their identity to us, but they did agree to answer some questions via email.

Mr Bean

What can you tell us about yourself? Are you one artist or several? Male or female?

Somebody who likes graffiti.

Do you have a political point? What's your message?

I don't believe it is art's purpose to send any message. It was mainly an alternative way to use a visual language that people are unfamiliar with here. But at the same time they can connect and communicate with the image and subject while being subtly political. It is also about using public spaces and subversive tactics as potent means of speaking about social realities.

Superheroes kissing

The superheroes and Shikari Shambu with Appi Hippi (a character from a cartoon strip) pieces were done in response to the Kiss of Love campaign that has been going on here. [BBC Trending previously covered the debate over 'immoral acts' in public] People who were coming on to the streets to kiss and protest are being arrested. But what if fictional characters do the same? Do they arrest them too?

Michael Jackson

What are you hoping to achieve?

Unfortunately we don't have a culture of graffiti here [in India] and there aren't many artists who choose to depart from the hierarchies and definitions imposed by the traditional art institutions. It's an effort as a visual artist to start looking for new and meaningful ways to engage a wider audience and inspire more people to take up this as a powerful medium of free expression.

What reaction have you got?

Absolutely amazing so far. Totally unexpected to be honest. Never thought people who don't otherwise care about art and stuff would start talking about it. It certainly seems to have created an interest and opened up doors.

What kind of risks are you taking - what would happen if you get caught?

As long as the images and subjects aren't very provocative and explicit in nature, which is the case now, it should be ok. But the day it becomes otherwise, it could be a problem and one could land in serious trouble.

Marilyn Monroe

Graffiti's against the law. What do you say to people who argue it's just vandalism?

Why just point your fingers at graffiti? We live in a visually polluted place. The streets and walls are flooded with movie posters, advertisements, election campaign signs and notices. Are those against the law? Can those also be called vandalism?

Indian astronaut Guesswho says: 'On the day India successfully sent a spacecraft into orbit around Mars, a tweet with a picture of female scientists celebrating was an inspiration.'

Do you really think you can keep your identity secret? The Times of India reported that they guessed who you were and rang you.

It is not a question about if one wants to keep the identity a secret, but whether others would understand the reasons behind that and respect it.

What are your future plans - do you plan to post artwork beyond Kochi? Tackle different subjects? Hang your work in art galleries?

I would certainly love to expand, explore new cultures and do works that are relevant to the cultural characteristics and landscapes of each place. Yes, there are a few things in the pipeline. An alternate medium like graffiti finding a place in a mainstream gallery space would be a very interesting thing to see, but that isn't something new in the West though.

You made a route map of your graffiti in Kochi. Have any of the works been whitewashed yet?

Yes, some of them have been. But isn't it the characteristics of this medium and taken as part of the process?

Finally, do you mind being compared to Banksy?

That would be too much of a compliment ... He has been in the business for decades and has very high standards that not many can catch up to. But of course, as a new kid in the block, would certainly love to know about his thoughts on these works and hope to meet him one day.

Pulp Fiction
Marx and Engel
James Bond
Girl with a gold earring Guesswho says: 'Re-imagining popular and iconic images is not really a new tradition in street art. But to use it with reference to the cultural characteristics of the location was the key. The public need to see more unconventional portrayals of women. '
kis m all
Shakuntala A modern retake of a famous painting by Ravi Varma. Guesswho says the picture was quickly removed by the authorities, citing obscenity as the main reason.

Interview by Samiha Nettikkara and Samanthi Dissanayake

Edited by Mike Wendling

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


Spider-Man's new nemesis: Cairo living

He's used to beating all challenges and challengers, but life's become tough for Spider-Man - he's now a toktok driver negotiating the busy streets of Cairo.

This imagining is the work of a young Egyptian photographer, Hossam Atef, 20, whose photos of an actor in the superhero's costume dealing with the daily struggles of life in Egypt's capital have been proving a hit on Facebook.

Atef says he's trying to highlight how difficult life is for the ordinary residents of Cairo.

"Egyptians are struggling with high food prices and trying to find jobs," he says. "Superheroes would not be able to survive here."

Video Journalist Greg Brosnan

Reporting by Mai Noman

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


Naming row over Rolling Stone story

Protestors gather outside the fraternity house where an alleged gang rape took place.

It was probably only a matter of time before people on social media began speculating as to the identity of the woman at the centre of the University of Virginia rape controversy.

There were just too many details in the Rolling Stone magazine article about "Jackie" - the woman who alleges she was sexually assaulted by a group of classmates at a fraternity house - and the story was too explosive for her to remain anonymous.

As multiple reports from the Washington Post show flaws in the Rolling Stone story, the outcry from those who feel the story epitomises trumped-up charges against men and fraternity culture has grown - while those who feel rape is not taken seriously enough have doubled down.

Now Chuck Johnson, a muckraking writer with a controversial past, says he's identified the woman and is broadcasting the fact on his website and via Twitter.

The woman's name became a Twitter hashtag, mentioned over 2,000 times, along with hashtag #UVAhoax, which garnered more than 6,000 uses.

According to an analytical review, 70% of users posting her name or the hashtags are men.

By contrast, 59% of the 11,000 Twitter users posting #IstandwithJackie are women.

The gulf represents a larger online division in the wake of the Rolling Stone story.

The article initially prompted near-universal condemnation of the university and the fraternity in question, prompting school administrators to suspend all fraternity and sorority activities until mid-January.

In the ensuing weeks, however, journalists began finding discrepancies in Jackie's account of her attack, raising questions about the magazine's reporting and fact checking. Rolling Stone backed away from portions of the story and issued an apology to its readers.

The public debate grew heated.

Opponents latched onto the retreat as evidence of an anti-male agenda, and said the woman deserved to be exposed for her misleading statements.

Johnson told the Washington Post naming the woman was part of a larger quest to repair damage done by the story. "I want Jackie to get psychological help. I want all the fraternities, suspended under these dubious stories, to be reinstated," he said.

Supporters said inconsistent statements were not uncommon for victims of sexual assault. Nor was it uncommon for these women to be discredited and disparaged for speaking out.

"[I]t is these common, understandable discrepancies that are being used to threaten a now famous-against-her-will young woman," writes Katie Klabusich in Buzzfeed.

Slate's Hanna Rosin says the real blame for Jackie's exposure rests with Rolling Stone.

"Thanks to Rolling Stone, the case is being adjudicated by reporters and bloggers and internet trolls who range in type from the responsible to the opportunistic to the despicable," she writes.

More than just Rolling Stone's integrity is being questioned, however.

Caitlin Dewey of the Washington Post says this latest episode reveals a larger truth about the state of today's internet. It's the latest piece of evidence - from pick-up artists to Gamergate - that social media is descending into a swamp of sexism and rage.

"As a medium, the internet favours the brief, the inflammatory and the outrage-inducing over the nuanced or the thoughtfully considered," she writes.

Reporting by Anthony Zurcher

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


Celery and chocolate spread: reaction to Victoria's Secret Show

A victoria's secret model

From chocolate spread to celery sticks, young women have been posting their responses to this year's Victoria's Secret Fashion Show in their thousands on Twitter.

Many of the 90,000 tweets using the hashtag #VictoriaSecretfashionshow2014 the event, held in London's Earl's Court, were positive, enthusiastic or at least gawking.

But a noticeable minority of young women turned to social media to complain about beauty standards and their dissatisfaction with their own bodies.

Here's a selection.

Oh my, if only this were true
This will be my dinner for the next 10 years: celery and water
Rip to my confidence
Ready for tonight: chocolate spread and tissues
Translation: 'You, watching #VictoriaSecretfashionshow2014' Translation: 'You, watching #VictoriaSecretfashionshow2014'

Last month Trending reported on a backlash over the company's 'perfect body' ads.

We've tweeted Victoria's Secret for a response and will update if they have anything to say.

Reporting by Gabriele Torres

Blog by Mike Wendling

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


The activists asking the Washington Redskins to #changethename

Hip-hop artist Jordan Brien - aka Mic Jordan - performs outside of a Washington Redskins game in Minnesota Hip-hop artist Jordan Brien - aka Mic Jordan - performs outside of a Washington Redskins game in Minnesota

It's crunch time in American football season and on Sunday afternoons in the US, social networks are abuzz with key games and the best plays.

Alongside the on-field action there's been a growing controversy over the name of one team - the Washington Redskins. Many Native Americans say the word 'redskin' is offensive and the team's mascot - a crimson, feathered Indian head - should be changed. The team's owner and many fans disagree and refuse to consider dropping the name.

The Washington Redskins logo The Washington Redskins logo

Earlier in the year, Trending brought you the inside story of the controversy over another Native American mascot,.

One of the activists we spoke to then, hip-hop artist Jordan Brien, aka Mic Jordan, is also at the forefront of the anti-Redskins campaign.

Trending blogger (and long-suffering American football fan fan) Mike Wendling visited Jordan on the Turtle Mountain reservation, and travelled with him to a rally outside a Redskins game in Minnesota. The resulting radio documentary is now airing on Assignment on BBC World Service radio. (UK listeners can hear the programme on BBC Radio 4's Crossing Continents).

Mike also went to Washington to hear from an ex-player and from fans, including those who are open to changing the name and others who say that changing the name would be an affront to the team's traditions.

Activists fly a #notyourmascot banner at an anti-Redskins rally Activists fly a #notyourmascot banner at an anti-Redskins rally

Native American activists have been rallying under the hashtags #changethename and #notyourmascot, tags that saw a spike during the rally in Minnesota a month ago and have been bubbling at a low but steady level throughout the American football season, which culminates with the Super Bowl in February.

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


Music video fuels natural hair debate online

Excerpt from Top Rope Zeus's video: "The Natural Hair Song"

A spoof music video about a man's horrified reaction to his girlfriend's decision to cut her hair short and keep it natural is viewed millions of times on Facebook.

"Baby where is your hair? Why you cut your hair?" Top Rope Zeus' YouTube character croons to his on-screen girlfriend.

"Do you really want to go there?" his African-American girlfriend sings in reply.

He does, apparently.

"You've joined the natural team. I'm seeing combs broke apart," he continues, undeterred.

The video on the sometimes fraught subject of black women's hairstyling has provoked thousands of comments from viewers - and not all are amused.

"This isn't all that funny," YouTube user Uniqua Smith2 comments. "People that struggle with the ideal version of beauty in this society could see this and believe that natural hair isn't beautiful, when it is. It's what most African American women were born with!"

The deeper you look into the meaning of this song, she says, the more offensive it seems to be.

And others agree:

"Mmmmkay.. so our natural hair is ugly now people?" says Mai Chi.

But Top Rope Zeus, whose real name is Zeus Campbell and who has a series of relationship sketches on YouTube, says no offence is intended.

Top Rope Zeus aka Zeus Campbell

"I was noticing a lot of women on the internet cutting their hair off, randomly - going 'natural'," says Campbell, 27, from Norfolk, Virginia. "It became this hashtag thing: #teamnatural. And I was making a statement that there's nothing wrong with being natural - that's great, if that's what you want to do. But there's many different styles of natural hair. Not every woman looks good with the same style."

Campbell's comedy revolves around giving women "the honest male view" - something he says he developed a knack for at university, when his female friends would turn to him for straight-talking advice. He first posted the natural hair video in 2013, a year before the US Army's new rules on acceptable hairstyles for African-American women provoked an angry reaction.

"Here's the thing about black women - their hair is a very sensitive topic," Campbell says. "I completely understand the conversation it's driving. I wrote it that way to provoke conversation. And a lot of women commenting say 'I'm natural and I think it's funny'."

Many of the people commenting on the video do see the humour - and that Campbell is stirring a debate.

"It's funny but at the same time brings up a serious issue," says Junette Allen. "More black women should go natural. It is beautiful."

Some of the men commenting are agreeing with Top Rope Zeus' contentious declaration that the natural look can be "ugly", but many are also saying that black women should be free to leave their hair unbraided and untreated without facing criticism.

"It's a shame we like false beauty," comments De-Von Marquest Pierce on Facebook. "I can't mess with a chick with fake beauty. Nothing more beautiful than a black woman with natural hair. It's not going natural it's being natural."

Reporting by Ruth Alexander

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


Keeping vigilant against military fakes

A video of a man accused of impersonating a US Army Ranger has gone viral

A video of a man allegedly impersonating a US Army Ranger has gone viral this week, with more than three million views since it was posted on YouTube on 28 November.

Ryan Berk, a US Army veteran, noticed the man at a shopping mall in Pennsylvania and thought that something was off.

"The first thing I noticed was his flag on his shoulder. It was really low, and it was kind of crooked," Bek said. So he decided to confront him.

He sent the video to the blog Guardian of Valor, which has a "Hall of Shame" where it posts pictures and information about people accused of impersonating soldiers.

There has been intense backlash online and in the media against the man in the video, who has since been identified as Sean Yetman. He has not yet responded to the allegations publicly.

One Congressman has called for him to be prosecuted.

But is it illegal to imitate members of the military?

BBC Trending spoke to Jonathan Turley, a legal scholar and law professor at George Washington University, about the law known as the Stolen Valor Act.

Produced by Franz Strasser and Ashley Semler

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


What's trending near the CIA's secret prisons?

The Twitter hashtag #torturereport has taken off since the US Senate's long-awaited release on CIA interrogation techniques - but what are people near the secret prisons saying?

The hashtag has been used 200,000 times in the past day. The report acknowledged a number of countries where the CIA ran secret prisons. While specific location details were censored, campaigners and journalists have put together a list of some of the approximate locations.

We looked at the website trendsmap.com for a snapshot of what people are chatting about on Twitter in some of those places. Although this is far from a scientific survey - for one thing, not all Twitter users allow their tweets to be located on a map - this exercise does throw up something interesting.

What is striking is that, although #torturereport was one of the world's top 10 most discussed subjects on Twitter today, it's not for Twitter users located near the secret prisons.

Romanians are tweeting more about bodybuilding and Trotsky than about the torture report. Romanians are tweeting more about bodybuilding and Trotsky than about the torture report.
Many tweeters in Kabul are expats - as shown by the tweets in English. They aren't talking much about #torturereport either. Many tweeters in Kabul are expats - as shown by the tweets in English. They aren't talking much about #torturereport either.
In Cuba, the internet is highly restricted - something that is clearly shown by the lack of tweets of any sort around Guantanamo Bay. In Cuba, the internet is highly restricted - something that is clearly shown by the lack of tweets of any sort around Guantanamo Bay.
There is one CIA site where #torturereport does appear prominently on the map - near CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, outside Washington. There is one CIA site where #torturereport does appear prominently on the map - near CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, outside Washington.
Airports map

Blog by Mike Wendling

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


2014: The Year of the 'Selfie'

Oscar Selfie

In case you hadn't already realised, it's the year of the selfie.

That's according to Twitter's top trends of 2014. Ellen DeGeneres' star-stuffed Oscar photo was retweeted more than three million times - a Twitter record.

The generic term "selfie" was mentioned more than 92 million times on Twitter - 12 times more than last year.

Not to brag or anything, but BBC Trending - and the Oxford English Dictionary - were ever so slightly ahead of the curve. This time last year we looked at the psychology of the selfie.

In 2014, we've covered (among others) a hair-pulling video selfie, the rise of #nomakeupselfie, and protesters in Egypt reacting to a selfie posted by former president Hosni Mubarak.

The World cup became the most Tweeted about event in history

Outside the world of front-facing camera lenses, the World Cup was the biggest Twitter event of the year - 672 million tweets were sent about this year's finals in Brazil.

The World Cup also figured on Facebook's list of top trends (for some reason top social media companies seem to discount the last three weeks of the year).

Feats like Robin van Persie's famous header enthralled the social media world and resulted in bizarre spectacles such as BBC Trending's Anne-Marie Tomchak balancing on a traffic barrier in the middle of London.

Hitting the second slot on Facebook was the Ebola epidemic, despite the fact that a lot of online talk in West Africa is happening on chat apps, rather than on more public platforms.

Elections in Brazil, the charity "ice bucket challenge" and the conflict in Gaza also reached the top 10.

As a global trend, however, the selfie reigns supreme. So if - like many others - you are annoyed by the craze for self-photography, just take a deep breath and wait for 2015.

Blog by Mike Wendling

Graphics by Ravin Sampat

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


"Ah stop!": Anger at Irish water charges surges online

Thousands are sharing songs and videos online to protest against the introduction of new water charges in the Republic of Ireland.

The controversial austerity measure is part of the government's plan to pay back the money Ireland was given as part of an international financial bailout in 2010.

The government says more money is needed for investment in water pipes and infrastructure, and that the alternative to charges would be higher income taxes.

But tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets up and down the country, and the campaigning is just as vociferous online.

Reporter: Anne-Marie Tomchak

Video journalist: Greg Brosnan

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


Who is Kabul's bare-legged woman?

The mysterious woman in a dress in Kabul

A woman walking through the streets in a mid-length dress is nothing shocking in most cities in the world.

But a recent photo of exactly that has spread widely - because it was taken in Kabul, Afghanistan.

"I was shocked," says the man who snapped the photo, local journalist Hayat Ensafi. "I knew I had to catch this special moment because I never saw a woman here walking down the streets like this."

Women face severe restrictions on clothing and movement in Afghanistan. After he took the photo, Ensafi tried to talk to the mystery woman.

"But she walked very fast and didn't talk to me at all," he told BBC Trending.

After Hayat posted the photo on Facebook, thousands of people shared and commented on it. Although it's difficult to tell exactly how many people have seen the photo, and what constitutes an online trend in a country with very low internet usage, the BBC's Syed Anwar in Kabul says the woman is a huge topic of conversation.

"We have seen thousands of people talk about it," Anwar says. "Not only on social media but also in the streets people are talking about her, wondering if she is mentally ill or if she is protesting."

Some Facebook commentators read a political motive into her walk.

"It's her body not yours," wrote Siddiq. "Salute her courage. We want to see more women come out like that."

"My body, my right, … no to forced hijab," wrote another Afghan woman.

Others were less supportive.

"We are living in a Muslim country and we can't bear such people like she is," wrote a user named Ahmad.

Conservative women's dress is a relatively recent phenomenon in Afghanistan. During the late 1960s and early 1970s many Afghan women wore a veil but it was not unusual to see short skirts in Kabul.

Women's rights were steadily rolled back under Taliban rule however, and even today full-body coverings such as the burqa are much more common than exposed flesh.

"It's risky for women to walk bare-legged in Kabul," Syed Anwar says. "At the same time, some people have argued that [dressing like this] can pave the way for Taliban propaganda."

Online comments seem to bear this out, with some Facebook users saying the woman's appearance is an example of a decline in morals in the country.

The identity of the woman remains unknown. After the picture was taken, she disappeared, says Hayat Ensafi, the photographer, leaving only the controversy behind.

"The whole city of Kabul is shocked," he says.

Reporting by Anne Herzlieb

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


Thousands share 'Politically-correct' football chants

Football match

Spanish football fans are editing crude match-day chants to make them 'politically-correct' in a sarcastic response to the Spanish Professional Football League's (LFP) decision to fine supporters who sing offensive songs from the stands.

The hashtag #canticoscorrectos is trending on Twitter - with more than 65,000 mentions, as supporters put their imagination to work.

"We respect your sexual orientation! It is as valid as any other; it is as valid as any other!" tweets one user.

Spanish tweet Translation: "Oh le le, oh la la, if you are Barça supporter you have a below-average IQ"
Spanish tweet Translation: "The referee's mother has very competitive prices"
Spanish tweet Translation: "I don't like that Portuguese guy"

Spanish media reported that 17 Real Madrid fans were given life bans this week after taking part in abusive chants about Lionel Messi and Barcelona.

Violent and abusive supporters are being targeted by clubs, footballing authorities and the Spanish government in response to the death of a Deportivo La Coruna supporter after violent clashes between rival fans before the match at Atletico Madrid last month.

Officers in charge of matches will notify the LFP of any offensive chants they've heard and the LFP will report cases to Spain's Anti-Violence Commission every Thursday.

Reporting by Gabriela Torres.

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


'I am tired': the politics of Mexico's #Yamecanse hashtag

Tweet by @Dhakiny Translation: "#YaMeCanse was censored. They will not silence us! #YaMeCanse2"

One phrase - "I am tired" or #Yamecanse - has been dominating the online conversation in Mexico since 43 students disappeared, and it's now become about much more than that one scandal.

"Ya me canse," said the Mexican attorney general Jesús Murillo Karam, as he brought a press conference about the missing students, who vanished after their bus was stopped by the police, to a close.

And so a hashtag was born. Within minutes, thousands of Mexicans were tweeting that they too had had enough, using the hashtag #yamecanse for emphasis.

"The reaction on social media was amazing," said the BBC's world duty editor, Lourdes Heredia - herself a Mexican - who was monitoring the news from London. "Because [Murillo] said it in a way that every Mexican would say 'I am tired, I am fed up with this situation, and enough is enough.' But what was he tired of? Was he tired of corruption, violence, drug cartels?" she said.

Almost as quickly, a group of political activists realised this was the "perfect storm" they had been waiting for.

"Sixty minutes after the hashtag exploded on Twitter, we started to communicate through direct messages and called for a street protest at the Angel of Independence statue in Mexico City," activist blogger @LoQueSigue_ told BBC Trending (he doesn't want to be known by his real name, only his Twitter handle, because he says he fears for his safety). He and his group adopted the hashtag for all their messages and now have a website: yamecanse.mx.

Their sustained efforts have helped keep the hashtag as a top trend on Twitter. The phrase has been mentioned more than 4 million times in the space of a month.

Tweet by Ubaldo‏@Nteratedetodo Translation: "One hashtag won't change the country, but it shows the desire to try it."

Last week the hashtag dropped out of the country's list of top ten trending topics - with some Mexicans suspecting a conspiracy - but a new slogan - #yamecanse2 - started and is, with more than 900,000 mentions, Mexico's top trend.

It's striking how organised the group is - @LoQueSigue_ described it as being like a media agency. There's an editorial team - made up of professionals from advertising, TV, film and radio - which plans their social media strategy, he says, and they have enlisted the help of actors, writers and journalists and other "influencers" to take part in videos and to tweet about it. A recent video they made - in English, to appeal to an international audience - was watched about a million times in just one week.

They are in constant touch with the families of the 43 students who disappeared, @LoQueSigue_ says, but this campaign group is about much more than the scandal of the missing students - they want the students to be returned, but they're calling for an end to all corruption and for President Peña Nieto's government to act.

"We want profound changes in our system. We want better education, universal health services … we want to reach everyone so they all know that a change is possible," actress Christel Klitbo, who took part in the video, told BBC Trending.

Most viral hashtags are short-lived, and this one is unusually sustained in its popularity, according to Carl Miller, from the UK think tank Demos, which has a centre for the analysis of social media.

"[The YameCanse.mx group] realise that viral search is actually important and influential, it can change decisions, it can pressure companies and governments to change the way they behave," he told BBC Trending. "So they kind of put themselves at the heart of this viral explosion and try to keep it running with techniques and tools from marketing or advertising."

"It's almost like a full-time job, analysing when the hashtag goes up or down," @LoQueSigue_ says. "And we're engaged in an online war with the government. Mexico's government has automated accounts - or bots - to create other trending topics or to spam our topics to push them down. It's a titanic effort to keep an eye on these online conversations to get to know who should we invite to join us, what content should we upload and how to maintain that."

Tweet by Politica Ficcion @FictionMex Tweet: "The country is tired of PRI's old practices. They won't silence us." Caption on photo of Mexican president: "And now they've made #YaMeCanse2"

But can the campaign achieve change in Mexico?

"The problem is loads of people can feel they're 'tired' but then when you talk about solutions - what should you do? And that's a difficult situation," says Lourdes Heredia, the BBC journalist. "Even the people who want to get involved in politics, once they get involved in the system, the grassroots movements don't respect them anymore, so it is a vicious circle."

Reporting by Gabriela Torres, Charlotte McDonald and Anne-Marie Tomchak.

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


How difficult is it to come out of the closet in Colombia?

Juan Pablo Jaramillo

A Colombian YouTube celebrity broke new ground by coming out online in a country where homosexuality is still taboo.

Juan Pablo Jaramillo started his video with seven seconds of excruciating silence before announcing that he wouldn't talk about his usual subjects: friendship, travels or music.

"I think this is the most serious video I've ever had on my channel and the most serious I'll ever have," he said. He invited viewers to watch the entire 19-minute video before passing judgment.

Jaramillo's YouTube channel "Jaramishow" regularly pulls in hundreds of thousands of viewers, but his coming out video has been watched by more than than 2.5m people. The hashtag #TienesNuestroApoyoJuan ("You have our support Juan") was trending in Colombia after the video's release, with more than 50,000 tweets in three days.

In Colombia, same-sex couples have many of the same rights as opposite-sex couples. But Mauricio Albarracin, director of NGO Colombia Diversa, said social attitudes have not caught up to the relatively progressive legal system.

"On one hand we have advanced legislation but on the other we have sectors of our society that refuse to accept it," he told BBC Trending.

Albarracin called Jaramillo "brave" for making the announcement but also for its timing - the suicide of a gay Colombian student who faced homophobic bullying is still in the news.

"This is the first time someone that young has publicly said that he is homosexual," Albarracin said.

Jaramillo acknowledged that he was taking a personal and professional risk by coming out online.

"I could lose all I've got, including my sponsors, because it is not a secret that I live in a country that hasn't yet given its full support to gays," he said in the video.

He told BBC Trending that he was worried about criticism before making the decision to post.

"It was really difficult to do this because I first had to tell my family, and also in Colombia people are still very traditional," he said.

Tweet about Juan Pablo Jaramillo Translation: Thanks for being such a spectacular person who has made us smile thousands of times. This is my idol before / This is my idol after.

The comments on the video - there were more than 66,000 - were overwhelmingly positive.

"This is the first time I have watched you. I'm also gay and I agree 100 percent with what you say," wrote Joaquin Cordoba.

"This video can make us more tolerant, respectful and open-minded. You made us realise that the fact that now that we know you are homosexual it doesn't really change much," commented user Arantxa Garcia.

Jaramillo says the reactions that surprised him the most were messages from people thanking him for helping them to tell their relatives about their sexual orientation.

Reporting by Gabriela Torres

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


Two big mysteries - the #BBCTrending Podcast

Protesters demand justice in the case of 43 missing students during a march in Mexico City. Protesters demand justice in the case of 43 missing students during a march in Mexico City.

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

Mexico

An online campaign around the hashtag #Yamecanse has been expressing the sentiment "I have had enough." Videos, messages and photos have been voicing people's frustration with authorities over corruption, crime and drug cartels. The latest campaign was sparked by the disappearance of 43 students after clashes with police. It's been 10 weeks since the students went missing, and the campaign has since broadened out to a general protest against the state of the country. A new video in English is aimed not just at those in Mexico, but at people around the world.

USA

Millions of people are hooked on the podcast Serial, a spin-off of the US public radio show This American Life. Serial revisits a real life murder case that happened in Baltimore 15 years ago. A suspect was found guilty at trial at the time, and is currently still in jail - though he insists he is innocent. The case has taken on a life of its own on social media, with people discussing it on Reddit and some of them turning detective as they think they can shed new light on the case.

On BBC Trending we investigate the investigations of the investigation and find out what happens when the online community becomes part of the story.

The Trending Minute

Trends of the week in sixty seconds: a Chechen leader Instagram faux pas, Indian sisters take on harassers, German rap tribute to Tugce, and a girl's bovine best friend.

Presented by Anne-Marie Tomchak and produced by Charlotte McDonald and Gemma Newby.

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


Trends of the week - in 60 seconds

BBC Trending

From the rapper who paid tribute to the young German woman, Tugce Albayrak, who was killed when she intervened in an attack on two girls, to the two sisters from India who have been filmed kicking and punching men who allegedly harassed them.

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

Produced by Ravin Sampat, Charlotte McDonald and Gemma Newby

Video courtesy of APTN, NDTV, Billie jo decker. Pictures courtesy of Reuters

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

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


Male MP's outburst at woman prompts Twitter outcry

The Jordanian parliament is no stranger to screaming matches but a recent incident was so controversial that it provoked people to poke fun at their MPs online.

Earlier this week, during a heated argument over the Muslim Brotherhood, independent MP Yehia al-Saud was cut off by one of his female colleagues, Hind al-Fayez.

"Sit down Hind!" al-Saud yelled several times.

When al-Fayez ignored him, al-Saud turned his gaze and hands upwards and shouted "May God have his revenge on whoever brought quota to this parliament!" - a reference to female parliamentary quotas.

Local media reported that al-Saud later made another comment that women were created to put on make-up and cook for their husbands.

Videos of the incident have had over a million views on Facebook and YouTube, and were quickly followed by sarcastic comments and memes.

Meme from a movie with the caption ""I said Sit down Hind!" "I said Sit down Hind!"
Meme from a movie depicting Hitler saying  "Sit down hind, siiiiiiiiit down" "Sit down hind, siiiiiiiiit down"
A meme showing Hind Al Fayez with the caption "I'm not going to sit down" "I'm not going to sit down"

The Arabic hashtag "Sit down Hind" mocking the MPs also became popular in Jordan.

"I love our parliament! They make up for lost comedy TV that I don't have time for..!" a young Jordanian tweeted.

But it wasn't all fun and jokes. A serious conversation about respecting differences of opinion and women's representation in the parliament also cropped up online.

"They both failed to understand what constitutes a dialogue," one woman tweeted.

"Al-Saud's attack on women's quota represents a society's mentality," tweeted another female Jordanian. "His problem is not a personal one with Hind but with but an issue with her being a woman."

Al-Fayez and her female counterparts demanded an apology for al-Saud's comments.

"This is not just an attack on the quota system," female MP Wafa Bani Mustafa told BBC Trending, "this is an insult to all women MPs - even the ones who got in through regular voting."

A quota was instituted in Jordanian parliament in 2003. Fifteen out of 104 seats are currently reserved for females, although other women can be elected in openly competitive seats - currently there are a total of 18 women in parliament.

Reporting by Mai Noman

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


@OrkneyLibrary's 7 favourite bookish Twitter feeds

The bricks-and-mortar version of Orkney Library The bricks-and-mortar version of @OrkneyLibrary

Although its books are physically located on a remote Scottish island, @OrkneyLibrary is now at the centre of the bibliophile Twitter universe.

This week the account pushed past 10,000 Twitter followers and caught the attention of the media - although to be entirely fair it has been trending for quite some time.

Orkney Library tweet

The account's success - its follower count is rapidly approaching the total population of Orkney - got BBC Trending wondering about other twitterers who are entertaining bookworms on Scottish islands (and maybe in other parts of the world).

We contacted the man behind @OrkneyLibrary, Stewart Bain, who shared some of his personal favourites.

Stewart says: "Our Northern neighbours. Like us, but farther away and a bit more Vikingy."

"Funny, good at swearing and a massive supporter of libraries. What's not to like? One of the first accounts we followed on Twitter."

"Fantastic organisation promoting reading, writing & literature for all ages in Scotland. Also give us money for author visits; we like this."

"Librarians tend to be quite keen on cats. This is one of our favourites. Looks sad but makes us laugh. A lot."

Orkney Library tweet
  • @RaeEarl (Author and broadcaster Rae Earl)

"I issue Rae's books at the library, chat to her on Twitter, then go home to watch someone pretend to be her on the telly [on the TV programme My Mad Fat Diary]. Confusing but fun."

"Big fans of a bad book cover; we have quite a number in our stacks, as anyone who follows us will know, but nobody has more than these guys."

  • @_Enanem_ (a man named Neil who lives in Hull)

"Funniest man on Twitter. Has probably read many books. Might ask him one day."

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


"Alive while black": tales of racism shared online

A protester in New York

#AliveWhileBlack is one of the latest hashtags to emerge from US protests over the case of Eric Garner, a black man who died after being put in a chokehold by a white police officer.

Earlier BBC Trending brought you the debate over the hashtag #CrimingWhileWhite - white Americans were using the tag to sharing their stories of unpunished criminal activity, while other twitter users called it patronising and counterproductive.

Now African-Americans are using #AliveWhileBlack to tell stories of alleged racial discrimination and profiling at the hands of the police.

"Neighbor called the police to my home. They arrived & handcuffed me before realizing it was me that needed help #AliveWhileBlack," tweeted a teacher in Washington state.

‏Ruby Lathon (@RubyL) tweeted: "#alivewhileblack SUV full of women leaving bachelorette party. Cops pull us over w/4 guns drawn-we 'fit the profile' of 2 male robbers."

The tag appears to have been started by African-American writer and activist Jamilah Lemieux.

"Got raped+robbed. Police took forever to interview me, mentioned that women sometimes lie to hide 'gambling, overspending'," she tweeted.

As of posting, the tag had been included in more than 80,000 tweets.

Update by Mike Wendling

h/t Jim Todd

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


What baffles the world about the British?

What baffles you about the British?

Rather a lot, it seems, if the thousands of comments on a reddit thread are anything to go by.

Tired of all the discussion threads poking fun at his compatriots, an American user said he wanted to turn the tables for once: "Non-British people of Reddit, what about Britain is stupid/baffles you?" he asked. The question drew more than 25,000 comments in less than a week - from people of many different nationalities, not least the British themselves.

Video journalist: Greg Brosnan

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


Twitter's racial and social divisions analysed

Tweet graph of Ferguson conversations

Does Twitter encourage real conversation - or does it trap users in bubbles with like-minded people?

Social media evangelists often talk about how new technology brings the world closer together. But the evidence for this is decidedly mixed. Now an in-depth survey of tweets after the events in Ferguson shows not one but at least two online conversations - with little overlap between them.

Emma Pierson, a statistician at Oxford University, analysed more than 200,000 tweets in the days leading up to the announcement that a grand jury chose not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of Michael Brown.

Her findings, pictured in the above graph and posted on the business website Quartz, reveal a 'red' group - disproportionately conservative, white, and pro-police - and a 'blue' group - liberal, pro-protest, and including many more African-Americans.

There's little overlap, and indeed little communication between the two groups, she says. And when the two sides were talking, they weren't being very nice.

"They have very different backgrounds, said very different things, and often when they did talk to each other, they said very nasty things," Pierson tells BBC Trending.

line
Typical examples of retweeted 'red' tweets
  • "I would feel safer, any day, to encounter #DarrenWilson on the street, than to meet #MichaelBrown or half of those now protesting!"
  • "Autopsy report:Not only did Brown not have his hands up he was going4 Gun"
Common 'blue' retweets
  • "Governor calls State Of Emergency. National Guard waiting. FBI giving warnings. KKK issuing threats. What 'effing year is this? #ferguson"
  • "State of emergency in #Ferguson must not be used to violate human rights, including the right to peaceful protest."

Source: Emma Pierson / Obsession with Regression

line

Pierson, who runs the self-consciously geeky stats blog Obsession with Regression, says she was shocked by the starkness of the divide.

Oxford researcher Emma Pierson Oxford researcher Emma Pierson

"I sent a message to a friend saying 'I think I've accidentally discovered racism', because it was so striking," she says. "It was not an unexpected result but I was surprised by how plain it was."

Other studies have shown social media divisions on contentious issues such as the Gamergate controversy and the conflict in Gaza.

Of course, to say that social media are conversations are divided is not the same as saying that Twitter and other networks actively drive us apart. Perhaps social media divisions simply carry over from the outside world.

"Conclusions that the internet puts us in 'echo chambers' are quite hard to prove," Pierson says.

In fact, one recent study by New York University political scientist Pablo Barbera indicated that Twitter was useful in exposing people to different views. (PDF)

In recent days the racial dimension of Twitter was raised once again after a grand jury decided not to indict a white New York City police officer in the death of Eric Garner, a black man he put in a chokehold.

The hashtag #CrimingWhileWhite - mostly white Americans tweeting about their own crimes that have gone unpunished - has since trended on Twitter.

It was started by a white comedy writer as a show of solidarity with the African-Americans, but some black activists online have called it counterproductive and condescending.

Pierson hasn't run the numbers on Eric Garner tweets - and it's hard to get a detailed picture in a still-fluid situation - but there are indications that the online ideological divide online might be less pronounced than the debate over Ferguson (#CrimingWhileWhite aside).

While both cases involve the killing of a black man by a white police officer, some commentators have pointed to differences in the circumstances surrounding the deaths. A few conservative American writers, for instance, have condemned the decision not to prosecute the police officer at the centre of the case.

Reporting by Mike Wendling

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


US knitting circle fights for rape victims

Students and parents holds up a sign during protest outside Norman High School, Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, in Norman, Oklahoma #YesAllDaughters started locally - but its organisers hope to bring their message to a national audience

An alleged teenager serial rapist has been charged with two counts of first-degree rape, amid social media and in-person protests over the handling of the aftermath by an Oklahoma high school.

In early November, Stacey Wright and other members of her knitting circle listened as a 16-year-old girl claimed that "vicious" bullying and harassment had forced her out of school after she accused an older boy of rape.

"I knew we had to do something, I just didn't know what," says Wright, whose own daughter had attended the high school in Norman, Oklahoma.

And the 16-year-old was not alone. A 14-year-old claimed the same teenager, a senior at Norman High School, had raped her.

Both girls claim to had been the targets of bullying, mocking comments and unspecified threats at Norman High. Their alleged rapist had been suspended for the year but the attacks continued, Wright says.

Their families said very little had been done to respond to the bullying, and the girls had left school out of fear.

Booking photo provided by the Cleveland County Sheriff"s Office shows Tristen Kole Killman-Hardin, 18, in Norman, Oklahoma Tristen Kole Killman-Hardin has been charged with two counts of first degree rape

Though the school maintains it responded appropriately, students and members of the knitting circle planned a school walkout in protest.

They organised around the #YesAllDaughters hashtag.

The phrase echoed the popular hashtag #YesAllWomen, used online to discuss harassment and assault.

The movement grew. A third teenager, 16, came forward, saying Tristen Kole Killman-Hardin, 18, had raped her as well, months before in a school toilet.

As 1,500 people protested during the walkout on 24 November, Wright said, one of the victims told her: "I didn't think anybody liked me."

Killman-Hardin was charged on Tuesday for the rape of one of 16-year-olds.

According to police, he has admitted to having sex with her while she was "very intoxicated" to both police and on an audio recording made by a friend.

Captain Tom Easley of the Norman Police Department tells the BBC "at least" two additional investigations related to Killman-Hardin were ongoing.

Norman High School students participate in a student-planned walkout and protest Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, in Norman, Okla. Allegations by three girls at the school who say they were raped by the same male student have led to a police investigation and protests by students and parents who say school officials have mishandled the case and subsequent bullying Norman High School students planned a walkout in response to their school's treatment of bullied students

On Wednesday, the 18-year-old appeared in court, and a not guilty plea was entered for him. At the same time, a Norman Public Schools spokeswoman said he would not "be a student of the Norman Public Schools ever again".

But the arrest of Killman-Hardin is not the end of #YesAllDaughters.

"We have been contacted by people all over the world with messages of support from far away as New Zealand," Wright says, adding there has also been an outpouring of stories of sexual assault from locals.

The group is exploring options about starting a non-profit.

"I can see us moving into the national discussion," Wright says. "Maybe we can effect some change."

Reporting by Taylor Kate Brown

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


Confessions and backlash on #CrimingWhileWhite

Protesters lay down in New York's Grand Central Station after the announcement that a police officer will not face charges Protesters lay down in New York's Grand Central Station after the announcement that a police officer will not face charges

White Americans are confessing to criminal acts under the hashtag #CrimingWhileWhite, but some Twitter users say the campaign is counterproductive.

It started after comedy writer Jason Ross rallied fellow liberal white Americans when it was announced that a police officer would not face charges over the death of Eric Garner.

"OTHER WHITE PEOPLE: Tweet your stories of under-punished f-ups! It's embarrassing but important! Let's get #CrimingWhileWhite trending!" he wrote.

The confessional outpouring was swift, with more than 200,000 tweets appearing under the hashtag. One from a medical student in New York was typical: "i literally buy and carry illegal drugs without fear. i have never been stopped or even looked at funny by a cop."

But the hashtag is counterproductive, argues Twitter user @HowToDressWell: "no one needs your cute story of not being profiled".

User @LeftSentThis tweeted: "I get the point behind #CrimingWhileWhite exposing hypocrisy, but at the same time it doubles as a form of bragging about #WhitePrivilege." - a comment which has been retweeted hundreds of times.

"This #CrimingWhileWhite hashtag is mad patronising lol. Didn't expect any different tho," tweeted @JamzLdn.

But others are defending the tag.

"The #CrimingWhileWhite hashtag isn't about bragging about white privilege; it's about showing those who don't believe that it does exist," says @vlcraven.

Blog by Mike Wendling

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Serial: Amateur sleuths trying to solve murder

Serial website screengrab

It's one of the most popular podcasts ever, and amateur detectives are trying to get to the bottom of the true-life murder at the heart of it. But how is social media sleuthing influencing the case and the real people caught up in it?

Serial is a spin-off of the US public radio programme This American Life. (If you're already among its legions of devoted fans you can skip this paragraph.) For nine episodes it's been re-investigating the case of Hae Min Lee, a teenager who was murdered in Baltimore. Her ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed was convicted of the murder and has been in prison for the past 15 years. In a huge journalistic undertaking, Serial's producers, led by Sarah Koenig, have examined the case from nearly every angle.

And because it's a real-life crime, the series has inspired fans to start their own investigations. A section of reddit devoted to Serial has attracted more than half a million users, and fans have been hunting for clues both online and at key locations in and around Baltimore.

"I was hooked from the beginning," says one reddit moderator who goes by the handle "wtfsherlock". His real name is Mike and he lives in California, but he didn't want to reveal any more than that to BBC Trending.

Amateur detectives have dug up and shared links to the criminal records of witnesses, pointed out similar cases nearby and have even travelled to the Best Buy electronics store at the centre of the case, to try to track down evidence of a pay phone that a key phone calls allegedly came from.

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Serial podcast stats
  • 20 million total downloads; 2.23 million per episode
  • Fastest podcast ever to reach 5 million iTunes downloads
  • Top of the podcast charts in the US, UK, Germany, Australia and elsewhere.

Sources: Serial, Apple, iTunescharts.net

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Mike says he's done some fact-checking himself. In an early episode, it was revealed that a potential witness might have been able to provide an alibi for Adnan Syed when she claimed to remember seeing him just before a snowstorm.

"I went and looked back at National Weather Service data, and it showed there was no snow on that day at all - it was actually quite warm," he says. "There was a storm, but it was the next day."

The weather discrepancy was later noted in a Serial blog post.

The producers of Serial, citing deadline pressure, said they didn't have time to answer our questions about how social media has affected the course of the series. In a New York Times interview, Sarah Koenig said she was surprised at the popularity of the podcast and denied that feedback was guiding the future of the series. But she also said producers were keeping one eye on the online conversation.

Reddit Serialpodcast page Reddit has a section devoted to Serial

"I'm not looking at reddit. But we do have people on the staff who are dipping into it to make sure there's nothing crazy on there or something we're missing - they might know something we don't."

But Mike, aka wtfsherlock, thinks the social media discussion has influenced the course of the series. For example, one of the recent discussion points on reddit and elsewhere has been about the lack of comment by Hae Min Lee's family. Episode nine then included a passage in which Sarah Koenig detailed the lengths the podcast's producers have gone to find family members, including hiring two private detectives and Korean-speaking researchers.

Adnan Syed Adnan Syed

"In my 20 plus years of reporting, I've never tried so hard to find anyone," Koenig said of Lee's mother. "I learned a few days ago that they [the Lee family] know what we're doing. My best guess is they want no part of it, which I respect."

Mike says reddit moderators have had some minimal contact with the producers and that he understands why they haven't leaned more on reddit for research tips.

"They are very much doing their own thing," he says. "I think it would be very risky for Serial to say, 'could you find out where so-and-so lives?' Because people would do it. And that would be problematic."

Mike says that moderators do their best to delete personal information leaked on the forum - although with so many posts many details have been leaked online - and the subreddit rules clearly ban posting such information about any of the characters mentioned in the podcast.

"It's a weird situation because reddit's policy is 'no personal information'," he says. "Well here we have a real-life story, with real-life names, that are being broadcast by podcast to millions of people every week.

"Our policy has been to keep people from revealing things [about individuals] that aren't revealed publicly by the podcast, and particularly keeping last names out of the discussion."

Serial on reddit

But Jim Trainum, a former detective hired by Serial to look at the case, told BBC Trending that online speculation could have serious implications for the people involved in the case.

"Because of this frenzy, it does impact lives adversely," he says. "Jumping from A to Z with no steps in between, making assumptions based on gut reaction … too often a rumour takes on a life of its own and soon becomes a fact."

The activity on reddit is so frenetic that it even attracted someone claiming to be Hae's brother, who wrote an emotional plea asking people to leave the family alone.

If the podcast producers are concerned about the privacy of the Lee family and the podcast's interviewees, they have more than social media to worry about.

Personal details including Facebook pictures of key witness Jay - Serial producers scrupulously refer to some characters by first name only - have been posted on the Daily Mail website (and no, we're not going to link to it).

As for Adnan Syed, a court is currently reconsidering his case. That appeal, which started in September and is centred around whether he received adequate legal representation at his original trial, has little to do (so far) with the drama unfolding on Serial.

The next edition of the podcast will be available Thursday - but if you're a listener, you knew that already.

Blog by Mike Wendling, Ruth Alexander and Gemma Newby

Reporting and graphic by Ravin Sampat

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Garner 'chokehold' decision condemned

Undated photo of Eric Garner.

News that New York Police officer Daniel Pantaleo will not be charged for the death of Eric Garner was greeted with condemnation across the political spectrum on Wednesday afternoon.

"It seems like the only people who didn't think the cop who killed Eric Garner should have been indicted [charged] were on that grand jury," tweets the Washington Post's Matt O'Brien.

After being confronted by police for selling untaxed cigarettes, officers attempted to arrest Garner. Mr Pantaleo placed him in a chokehold and wrestled him to the ground, while three other officers attempted to put him in handcuffs.

Start Quote

As it stands, there is no amount of force an officer can use that isn't unjustified”

End Quote Jamelle Bouie Slate

Garner, gasping that he couldn't breathe, went into cardiac arrest and died in an ambulance on the way to a hospital. A coroner's report found that his death was the result of compression of the neck and chest, complicated by pre-existing health conditions.

Commentators were quick to offer sharp words on political websites and through social media.

"As it stands, there is no amount of force an officer can use that isn't unjustified, regardless of the situation," tweets Slate's Jamelle Bouie.

The Federalist's Sean Davis points to the video of the incident, filmed by a bystander, as nearly irrefutable evidence that Garner's death was "completely unnecessary".

"He wasn't a mortal threat to anyone," Davis says. "He carried no weapons. He did not shove or attack any police officers in such a way to be considered an imminent threat to their health and safety."

Davis looks at New York's laws governing second-degree manslaughter -"recklessly" causing the death of another person - and opines that Mr Pantaleo appears "at least" guilty of that charge.

The failure to indict is a shocking example of the criminal justice system's failure to provide oversight of the nation's police, writes Leon H Wolf of the RedState blog.

"I understand the vast majority of cops are good at their jobs and conscientious about protecting the civil rights of citizens," he says. "But there are without a doubt bad cops who make bad decisions and when they do so from a position of authority the damage they can do is exponentially worse."

Start Quote

What good will body cameras do when an unarmed black man is RECORDED being killed and the officer STILL gets away with it?”

End Quote JJ McCorvey Fast Company

Vox's Amanda Taub writes that the bigger scandal is that current legal standards make prosecuting police violence almost impossible.

"The set of situations in which police officers are allowed to use force is narrow in theory but broad in application," she says.

Other commentators wonder whether the results in the Garner case reveal that the recent drive to equip police officers with body cameras will do anything to solve the perception of unaccountable law enforcement.

"What good will body cameras do when an unarmed black man is RECORDED being killed and the officer STILL gets away with it?" tweets Fast Company editor JJ McCorvey.

For now the reaction to the Garner decision stands in sharp contrast to the months long debate over the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, which had exposed sharp political and racial divides across the US.

That may not remain the case for long, however. Salon's Joanna Rothkopf was quick to criticise conservative commentators for glossing over race and police brutality issues and focusing on the cigarette taxes that the New York police were attempting to enforce.

"It's not the officer's fault for using an illegal chokehold on a non-violent asthmatic man," she writes. "It's the tax's fault for existing."

Politics never rests for long.

Reporting by Anthony Zurcher

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Saudi woman driving blog 'arrest'

Illustration of Lujain Al-Hathloul by Mohammad Sharaf Illustration of Lujain Al-Hathloul by Mohammad Sharaf

The name of a woman who live-tweeted her attempt to drive across the Saudi Arabian border has become an international trend, as rumours of her arrest circulate online.

On 30 November Saudi activist, Lujain Al-Hathlool, filmed herself driving in the United Arab Emirates with the intention of crossing the border back to her home country as a part of the ongoing '26 October' campaign, which challenges the Saudi ban on female drivers. The video has had over 800,000 views and over 3,000 comments on YouTube.

Al-Hathlool also documented her journey on Twitter, saying "follow me to find out what will happen at the border". Arriving at the border with Saudi Arabia, she live-tweeted the moment when she was stopped by a Saudi customs officer at the border. Straightaway, Al-Hathlool's name in Arabic became an international social trend.

She tweeted that officials had taken aside, and were making phone call after phone call. Hours went by. Her friend and UAE-based Saudi journalist Maysaa Al-Amoudi, drove to the border from Dubai to bring her supplies.

"Twenty-four hours spent on the border of Saudi," Al-Hathlool tweeted to her 233,000 followers on 2 December. "They won't give me back my passport and they won't let me pass through and no word from the Ministry of Interior. Complete silence from all the officials".

Since then, her timeline has been silent.

An Arabic hashtag that translates to "Lujain Al-Hathlool arrested" has been tweeted nearly 500,000 times, although BBC Trending was not able to confirm the arrest with the Saudi authorities.

Lujain Al Hathlool posted a picture of her on twitter driving

But a statement by Human Rights Watch says activists have told the organisation that both Al-Hathlool and Al-Amoudi have been detained and it is calling on the Saudi authorities to release the two women. Al-Hathlool's husband and family have not been able to reach her either, Saudi blogger Abdullah Al Dayhailan told BBC Trending.

The campaign calling for Saudi women's right to drive has gathered global support, but the topic remains a contentious issue inside the kingdom and the online debate is just as divided.

Many of those who oppose female drivers saw that Al-Hathlool's action showed contempt for state authority and disrespect towards Saudi culture. "Regardless of what we think of women driving, what Lujain is doing is like child's play, she did not respect her society or her customs" one Saudi man tweeted.

"She knew darn well that by breaking the rules she would face some consequences," another man commented.

But some Saudi men have expressed support for Al-Hathlool and women's right to drive. "Lujain is on the border not because she has drugs in her handbag or because she's carrying a bomb but, no it's more dangerous than that…she's driving a car," tweeted one, with a sense of irony.

Others who have joined the debate suggested that Al-Hathlool is not actually breaking the law because she is driving with an Emarati licence that allows drivers to drive in any Gulf Cooperation Council country, including Saudi Arabia.

Although there is no clear law in Saudi Arabia which bans women from driving, Al-Hathlool's legal standing is uncertain, says blogger Al Dayhailan.

"Although a religious fatwa is not legally-binding, it is still treated as such" he said.

Reporting by Mai Noman

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Indian sisters beat up another man in new video

A short clip from the NDTV video of the sisters hitting a man in a park

Two sisters pictured beating up men who allegedly sexually harassed them in India have recently been involved in a similar incident, according to a new video that has emerged online.

Earlier this week sisters Aarti and Pooja Kumar were shown kicking, punching and belting three men on a bus in the northern state of Haryana.

Now a new video released by the Indian news channel NDTV shows the women attacking a man in a park.

NDTV told BBC Trending the new video came from a local journalist but wouldn't reveal the exact source. The girls in both videos look the same, and NDTV says the latest video to emerge was filmed about a month ago.

The original video fanned the ongoing debate over sexual violence in India after it was viewed hundreds of thousands of times on YouTube. The younger sister, 19-year-old Pooja, told BBC Hindi that the pair fought back on a moving bus in the Rohtak district after three men started touching them.

"If we had any hope that our fellow passengers would save us, then why would I need to take out my belt?" she said. "Earlier, if you told men off, they would back off. But this time, these men crossed the limit and raised their hands on us."

Aarti and Pooja have been hailed as heroes locally, but at the same time questions have been raised about exactly what prompted the women to attack.

The parents of the men on the bus have been quoted in Indian media saying that their sons were arguing about seating, not sexually harassing the women.

Indian Express newspaper reported that key witnesses to the first fight have not been found. "There is still no trace of a pregnant woman who allegedly took the video, and who the girls claimed they were speaking up for when the fight broke out, and another old woman who the accused said they were fighting for," wrote reporter Sumegha Gulati.

A female NDTV journalist tweeted: "V v odd, another video emerges of Rohtak girls beating up boys in a park from a month ago. Again no evidence of boys molesting them on camera".

BBC Trending has contacted the sisters and will post an update if they respond.

Reporting by Ruth Alexander and Mike Wendling

h/t Samiha Nettikkara

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Mubarak 'selfie' doctored by protesters

Protesters upset at Egypt's former president Hosni Mubarak have doctored a picture of him to include an offensive hand sign.

There's been an emotional reaction to the news that charges against Mubarak over killings during the uprising in Egypt three years ago have been dropped.

When a "selfie" of Mubarak (of sorts - it doesn't look like he actually took the picture) was posted on Twitter and Facebook following the news on 29 November, campaigners turned the photo into a message to those who took part in the Arab Spring in 2011.

Produced by Mai Noman.

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Fan death sparks anti-violence move

BBC Trending

Thousands of people are saying 'no' to violence in football online, after a fan died in fighting which broke out in Madrid this weekend.

Francisco Javier Romero - Jimmy, to his friends - died in clashes between Deportivo La Coruna supporters and Atletico Madrid before a match in the Spanish capital on Sunday.

The hashtag #NoALaViolenciaEnElFutbol - "No to violence in football" - has become a trending topic on Twitter, with hundreds of pictures from people condemning the event and calling for an end to violence.

Romero was taken out of a river near Atletico's Vincente Calderon Stadium suffering from cardiac arrest, hypothermia and head injuries. He later died in hospital.

Produced by Gabriela Torres

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


The German making serious news a YouTube hit

Florian Mundt, known as LeFloid, has an opinion on everything

In an age of rising YouTube stars, there's nothing unusual about a young German attracting millions of followers. But fans of Florian Mundt, known as LeFloid, are flocking to his channel for an unlikely fix of politics and current affairs, served up with a large dose of opinion. From 'Nazi hipsters' to IS fighters, he's got an opinion on everything. Could this 27-year-old be creating a new generation of news junkies?

Reporter: Charlotte McDonald

Producer: Anne Herzlieb

Video journalist: Greg Brosnan

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


Jailed journalist's birthday keeps campaign alive

A group of journalists gather in the CNN studio in front of a sign saying 'Journalism Matters'

The jailed journalist Peter Greste is trending on Twitter as campaigners mark his birthday.

Journalists, activists and well-wishers are using Greste's 49th birthday as an opportunity to keep the imprisonment of him and two of his al-Jazeera colleagues in the news.

Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed were convicted of spreading false news and supporting the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood by a Cairo court in June this year - charges they denied.

  • 4,300 tweets mentioning @PeterGreste today
  • 450,000 #FreeAJStaff tweets in past year

The Australian reporter's family travelled to Egypt to visit him and tweeted that the social media campaign is lifting his spirits.

Last month, Greste's parents made a direct appeal to Egypt's president for his release by Christmas.

A journalist with taped up mouth against a blackbard with #FreeAJStaff Journalists around the world have posted selfies in support of the campaign, including this one from earlier this year.

Reporting by Ruth Alexander

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

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Chechen leader sends mixed Instagram messages

Ramzan Kadyrov with the new Russian YotaPhone 2 Ramzan Kadyrov with the new Russian YotaPhone 2

Chechnya's leader has received flak for promoting Russian products and criticising the West, using an American social network.

BBC Russian reported that avid Instagrammer Ramzan Kadyrov denounced "the US military industrial complex" in a post that received more than 20,000 likes.

He urged his countrymen to turn their backs on the likes of Facebook and Twitter in favour of a Russian-owned network.

"Our vkontakte.ru is just as good. Let's move gradually to it," he wrote.

The problem was he posted the message on Instagram, a social media site owned by Facebook and based in California.

Twitter users were quick to point out the faux pas. Oxana Chizh raised an electronic eyebrow at Kadyrov's use of the "apparently Zelenograd-based Instagram" - a reference to a remote borough of Moscow, which Russia has promoted as an alternative to Silicon Valley.

Kadyrov's post lists the virtues of a new Russian-designed smartphone, the YotaPhone 2, and he's pictured using one of the new phones, but it wasn't long before comments pointed out a piece of American technology was lurking in the background.

"The appeal of using domestic [goods] is clear. Kadyrov's right. But there is clearly an iPhone sitting on the table," pointed out ‏Twitter user kaptzanilya, a Russian based in Berlin.

Detail from the Instagram picture showing Kadyrov with a Russian YotaPhone - but an iPhone is sitting on the table Detail from the Instagram picture showing Kadyrov with a Russian YotaPhone - but an iPhone is sitting on the table

And even the YotaPhone isn't as purely Russian as Kadyrov might think, according to Twitter user tato_Alex in Ukraine:

"Kadyrov praises the 'unique' Russian smartphone YotaPhone - which is based on the US Qualcomm processor, supervised by Google Android and assembled in China," he said.

Kadyrov, Chechnya's pro-Russian leader, has overseen huge rebuilding projects, but has also come under intense criticism from human rights groups.

He has more than 650,000 Instagram followers and is no stranger to social media spats. Last month he posted a graphic photo allegedly of the corpse of a Chechen Islamic State fighter. The photo turned out to be a fake.

Reporting by Mikhail Poplavsky

Blog by Mike Wendling

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Trends of the week - in 60 seconds

Why are people reaching out to save an American family's pet pitbull? Who's using the sarcastic hashtag #FergusonRiotTips after the grand jury ruling in the Michael Brown case? And did you hear about the lamb chop from a London restaurant that was sent into space?

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

Produced by Ravin Sampat and Gemma Newby

Video courtesy of Reuters, Nick Hearne, Facebook/MyStealthyFreedom. Images courtesy of Facebook/Savingzeusybaby

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


The BBC Trending Podcast

German YouTube star LeFloid walks along the road next to the Berlin Wall German YouTube star LeFloid talks about his personal take on the news

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

A German YouTube Star

Charlotte McDonald travels to Berlin to meet one of Germany's biggest YouTube personalities, LeFloid. The 27-year-old vlogger is the man behind 'LeNews', a channel that takes a different approach to current affairs to get people talking.

Rescue in Saudi Arabia

When a Filipina domestic worker in Saudi Arabia posted a video of her living conditions it was shared half a million times. We find out how the video led to her rescue and provoked debate in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries.

The Trending Minute

A flying lamb chop, #fergusonriottips, dancing in Iran and pit bulls in America - all in sixty seconds.

Presented by India Rakusen and Charlotte McDonald.

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


Filipina maid rescued after video plea

Nargelene Mendez

An emotional plea for help by a maid in Saudi Arabia has fanned the flames of the debate about conditions for domestic workers in the Gulf.

Nargelene Mendez, originally from the Philippines, posted a video to her Facebook page showing the pantry where she slept and talking about being abused by her employer, a retired police officer.

"They beat my colleague yesterday," she says. "They also beat me. Please help us. I'm begging you."

The video hit a nerve and was shared widely not only in the Philippines - home to millions of people who travel to the Middle East in search of work - but also in Spain, the US and the Gulf itself. The original post now has nearly half a million views.

Many of the comments on the version posted on YouTube were in Arabic.

"One day we might be in their shoes, these foreigners we mistreat," one user said, although others were less sympathetic.

Room showing cupboards and piles of linen The room where Nargelene Mendez says she had to live and sleep

Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries operate a controversial migrant labour system called Kafala which gives employers wide control over the lives of their immigrant employees. Employers control passports and visas, which can effectively trap workers in abusive situations.

This week the regional Gulf Cooperation Council announced new rules for domestic workers including an 8-hour working day, annual leave, overtime compensation and at least one day off a week for domestic workers. The rules would also give maids the right to live apart from their employers and keep their passports.

But until the changes are implemented the system remains stacked in favour of the employers - so much so that workers are often afraid to speak out, says Rothna Begum of Human Rights Watch.

"It was incredibly surprising to see in her video the conditions in which she was working but also to show herself," Begum says. "I've never really heard of a case of a woman who did this and publicised in such a way."

We can't verify the allegations made in the video and haven't been able to contact the employers. But it appears the woman's cry for help did get heard. After the video was posted, a migrant rights organisation in the Philippines contacted the authorities in Saudi Arabia. The Philippine Embassy in Jeddah told BBC Trending that a woman by the name of Nargelene De Guia Mendez was "rescued from her employer" in October and is currently staying at a consulate building waiting for an exit visa.

Reporting by India Rakusen

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


Canada's new Twitter feed pokes fun at Canada

Canada joins Twitter

Canada has joined Twitter.

Tweet from @Canada

The country known to some uninformed outsiders as not being the United States has decided to create an overarching national identity on Twitter. Actually two: one in each of the country's official languages, French and English. The accounts have been mentioned on Twitter more than 20,000 times since they were launched this week.

Other national accounts, such as Ireland, have enlisted a rotating roster of citizen microbloggers to fill their feeds. Sweden's national tweeter, for instance, is currently a young Russian immigrant sharing her innermost thoughts about "sex, psychology, dancing, clothes she wears and student orchestras." You have been warned.

Tweet from @Canada

Canada, on the other hand, has chosen a more official approach - a kind of voice of the True North. That's not to say that Canada is above making fun of itself or its citizens, however - it announced itself with a reference to the country's famous verbal tic: "@Canada's now on Twitter, eh!"

Other tweets have sent up the Canadian penchant for apologising and a depiction of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police on The Simpsons - alongside more serious references to the country's tourism industry and Ebola vaccine research.

It remains to be seen whether the jokey and the sober can sit comfortably side by side in the world of social media diplomacy. Earlier in the year a Twitter skirmish broke out when Canada's NATO delegation tweeted sarcastic advice to Russian soldiers "who keep getting lost".

It was illustrated by a map showing Russia and "Not Russia", aka Ukraine.

We've asked @Canada to comment on the possibility of future tweets about maple syrup and ice hockey. We'll update if they get back to us, eh?

Reporting by Mike Wendling

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


Islamist online call for protests

Islamists in Egypt are calling for protesters to take to the streets today in what they say is a 'battle' for their Muslim identity.

The Muslim Brotherhood has been declared a terrorist organisation there and public demonstrations are banned. But a 'Muslim Youth Uprising' campaign on social media is urging people to take to the streets today to protest against the authorities. Three videos, trending in Egypt, reflect the strong sentiment on both sides.

The government has deployed armoured vehicles in Cairo and issued a warning that any armed protesters will face their weapons.

Reporter: Mai Noman

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending.

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


'I refuse to be my daughter's diary'

Noelia Lopez-Cheda Noelia Lopez-Cheda says she doesn't want to be an over-protective parent

One mother's decision to leave a parents' chat app group becomes a big hit online. Why?

At first, Noelia Lopez-Cheda thought it would be a great idea to join a group of local parents on Whatsapp.

"I thought it was a good idea to be in contact with other parents from my daughter's class and to be updated about activities, news and important events," she told BBC Trending from her home in Spain. "It was a way to save time for some very busy parents who don't go to the school centre."

It soon became a "a sort of monster", though, generating a "a whirlwind of messages" about schoolbooks and homework - even individual test results - which interrupted her evenings and clogged up the memory of her mobile phone.

And then one day, Noelia "saw the light". Her blog about this epiphany has had more than a million views.

Noelia had just got home one evening when her daughter Emma, aged nine at the time, announced she'd forgotten her maths homework and asked her mother to message the Whatsapp group for the exercises.

Noelia immediately dropped her keys, her shopping bags and started rummaging for her phone. And then, she stopped.

"I stared at my mobile and it was then that I thought 'What am I doing? This is over,'" she writes.

Her daughter would, despite her protests, simply have to go to school the next day, empty-handed, and face the consequences of forgetting her homework.

We have become full-time personal assistants for our children, she writes, and that's wrong.

Whatsapp icon on smartphone screen Don't use parent groups to send jokes, Noelia says

"I refuse to be my daughter's school diary through a Whatsapp group, I refuse to be the one doing the homework, I refuse to go back to school and I refuse to be over-protective to the point of taking over her responsibilities," she wrote on Facebook first of all, attracting lots of comments from friends, one of whom encouraged to write a blog about it.

"I wrote [the blog] because I was deeply worried about my daughters not being proactive. It is an issue I see every day with talks I give to companies, where people would rather wait for instructions than use their initiative,"Noelia told BBC Trending.

She called the post "I refuse to be my daughter's diary" and is amazed at how popular her blog post has become.

"In two hours I got between 10,000 and 11,000 views; the second day over 100,000 people had read it and by the end of the weekend it had half a million views," she said.

The post has now been shared more than 35,000 times on Facebook and has gone viral on Whatsapp, as other parents far and wide passed her story to one another.

"I hope this article will make a lot of those parents who do 'everything' for their kids think," one user, 'Tatinati', comments on the blog. "We seem to care much more about academic records," a user named 'MBilbao' says, commenting that they have also deleted their parents group from Whatsapp and that children should learn from their mistakes. And although some people have criticised Noelia for her views, even calling her a "bad mother", she says the reception has been mostly positive:

"It must be a common picture in every house where there are children of school age, and a lot of mothers have identified with me, with what I say. They know over-protection can be an issue I think it has solved some doubts and that's where the success is coming from."

There is a great interest among parents in using social media to benefit a child's education, according to Francesc Núñez, a professor at the Open University of Catalonia in Spain. "Every parent has a Whatsapp group regarding parenting, education or school," he says. "And every parent has a perception of how their kids must be brought up." But he notes that parents should use social media how and as they want to.

Meanwhile, another school in Spain has reportedly banned teachers from communicating directly with parents via the mobile messaging app.

Reporting by Gabriela Torres and Ruth Alexander

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending

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


Ferguson: 'Buying black' on Black Friday

Poster advertising the "hands up don't spend" campaign

A spiritual advisor to the family of Michael Brown, the teenager killed by police in Ferguson, is urging African-Americans to buy exclusively from businesses owned by black people on America's busiest shopping day.

Jamal Bryant launched his campaign earlier in the week using the hashtag #handsupdontspend - a reference to a slogan used by Ferguson protesters. It's been tweeted more than 7,000 times, with other hashtags pushing the campaign including #notonedime, #boycottblackfriday and #blackoutblackfriday.

Jamal Bryant

"It's my hope that black businesses and the black community will benefit," he says, citing a study that said African-Americans collectively spend $1 trillion a year. He says that a sustained campaign of economic pressure would serve as a protest against police violence.

"America responds to money more than they do to masses," Bryant says.

Kicking back against Black Friday - the day after America's Thanksgiving holiday, when stores routinely offer big discounts - isn't a new idea. For more than 20 years the anti-capitalist magazine Adbusters has urged people to give the shops a miss on what it calls 'Buy Nothing Day'.

Bryant stressed his action isn't a boycott but rather a call to support businesses owned by black people across the United States.

"We are not asking people not to send their money out of the community, but to spend it at home," Bryant told BBC Trending.

The events in Ferguson over the past week have inspired a number of online fundraising drives, including one by a bakery that was damaged during rioting and, as BBC Trending reported, the Ferguson public library.

Bryant cited the 1960s civil rights movement as an example of the power of economic action.

"Civil rights really came to national attention as a result of the Montgomery bus boycott," he said, referencing the time when black people in Alabama, led by Martin Luther King Jr, stopped riding public buses to protest segregated seating.

But the campaign will have some way to go to overcome the general appetite for holiday shopping. #BlackFriday was already one of Twitter's top trends on Thursday, with more than 400,000 tweets over the past week.

Reporting by Mike Wendling

h/t Estelle Doyle

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Dancing woman flouts Iranian rules

The latest video posted on a popular Iranian protest page shows a woman dancing wildly on the Tehran Metro.

Nearly 900,000 people have watched the video on My Stealthy Freedom, a page dedicated to pictures and videos of women flouting Iran's female dress code. As we've noted before, dress in Iran is a highly political issue, with women required to wear the hijab, or headscarf, in public places. Enforcement of the rule varies across the country however.

Perhaps more controversial than the scarf however, is the dancing. Dancing in public in Iran is outlawed - a group of young people who filmed themselves dancing to Pharrell Williams's song Happy were arrested earlier this year.

As the latest video begins, a hijab is hanging loosely on top of the dancer's head. But as she gyrates wildly to Little Mix's Salute (sample lyrics: "Ladies all across the world / Listen up, we're looking for recruits / If you're with me, let me see your hands / Stand up and salute") she seems to show scant regard for where her scarf - or her limbs - end up.

BBC Monitoring says the video seems authentic. One of the women in the carriage is heard saying rather critically "Now this is a new fashion." That's at odds with the comments on Facebook, many of which are largely positive, even if somewhat down on the woman's moves.

"It is not about how well she dances, the fact that she has broken a taboo is commendable," commented one user.

Reporting by Mike Wendling

Produced by Ravin Sampat

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Online donations buoy Ferguson library

A father and son in a library A father and son looked over a book at the Ferguson library this summer

In the unrest following the grand jury decision in the case of Michael Brown, several groups tried to kick in the big glass doors of the Ferguson Public Library.

They failed, and now the space has become a sanctuary.

On a desk inside the library, a homemade sign reads "During difficult times, the library is a quiet oasis."

While many businesses in Ferguson have closed their doors, the library - two blocks from the police station and centrally located among the protests - is open. On Tuesday when schools were closed, children participated in crafts and story time programmes and ate lunch. On Wednesday, reporters worked in the quiet space, while business owners took part in archive-preservation programmes.

Scott Bonner, the library director, says visitors have been emotional.

"A couple of patrons came in and grabbed my hands and cried a bit because they were trying to process everything," said Bonner. "The teenagers - the ones who are coming in here - you can see that they have anger and fear and frustration in their eyes."

And out of this quiet space, a community fundraiser - with anonymous roots - grew, providing 3,000 donations for the library in the first 20 hours.

Using the PayPal button on the library's home page, many have given what they can, says Bonner. That may be $5 or $20. Others have given larger sums.

Ferguson library tweet

Bonner says donations have reached into the six figures with more than 7,600 people donating.

A call for donations on Reddit reads "The Ferguson Public Library has been a beacon of hope and civilization for these ordinary people in these sad times. … It's stayed open and gone beyond the call of duty where other organizations, to say nothing of elected officials, don't seem to have a good answer."

On Twitter, @StefHoffman tweeted "Libraries have always been my sanctuary, my escape, my happy place. Support @fergusonlibrary for the people who need all the above esp now."

Bonner, who is the only full-time employee at the library, says he hopes to hire a children's librarian or a programming librarian, to expand their reach.

"It is rejuvenating and regenerating," he said of the donations. "I'll go home exhausted and then I'll jump on the page and read some of the nice comments and share them onto my staff."

The library is not the only institution in Ferguson to receive a crowd sourced boost - a local bakery that was damaged during the protests raised over $100,000 (£63,320).

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

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Rapping for Putin

"Go Hard Like Vladimir Putin", a rap track by two African immigrants living in Russia, has been viewed over a million times. Many Russians are uploading their own versions to social media.

There have been concerns in the past about how African immigrants have been received in the country, with groups like the MPC Task Force Against Racism reporting that although racial violence has decreased it's still a part of everyday life. But the two MCs behind this video say that's a thing of the past and Vladimir Putin is a role model for hard work and diligence.

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending.

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


Legendary London lamb chop enters stratosphere

Lamb chop in near space

A video of a lamb chop being launched high above the earth has gone viral. But what does the guardian of the famous chop recipe think?

Like many online videos, this one is in fact an attempt at viral marketing. Novelist Nikesh Shukla blasted the chop into the stratosphere as a play on words of the title of his latest book: "Meatspace" (although technically the grilled lamb didn't actually reach space). But what made this lamb chop different, and instantly recognisable to many in London, was that he chose the chronically busy Tayyabs in the East End of the city to provide the tasty morsel.

Queuing for a table at Tayyabs while luckier diners chew on award-winning Pakistani food is a regular trial for devoted fans. Opened in the early 1970s to cater to local immigrants, the restaurant has since become a magnet for foodies and hipsters. Shukla says that during a visit with designer Nick Hearne, he gazed at the restaurant's wall of famous patrons - including TV and film stars - and wondered how a mere novelist could join their ranks.

"We asked them if we send one of their lamb chops into space, would we get onto the wall of fame?" Shukla told the BBC.

Aleem Tayyab, who owns the restaurant along with his brothers, says he was mildly sceptical of the plan.

Chefs at Tayyabs

"At first, we didn't know what to make of it," he says. "The staff were extremely confused. But I said, sure - let's see what happens. It might work."

The chop was launched in June but the footage was only recently recovered. The story has come at a sad time for the restaurant - its original owner, Aleem's father Mohammed Tayyab, died earlier this month.

"We were all down because my father passed away and this was some good news after a rough patch," Aleem says.

And a picture of Shukla and Hearne will soon go up on the restaurant's wall.

Reporting by Mike Wendling

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

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How did one UK political hashtag dominate the week?

Tweet announcing start of hashtag campaign

A political slogan calling for the ousting of the Prime Minister David Cameron has been shared on Twitter more than 400,000 times in five days. How did that happen?

It started when two ardent Labour Party supporters got talking on Twitter, and came up with a plan to try to get everyone else talking too. Users called "Gail" and "Jon Swindon" urged their followers - 5,000 in all - to join them tweeting #CameronMustGo, stating their reasons why, on Saturday 22 November at 6pm. Five days later, the slogan's been tweeted more than 400,000 times and today is the top UK trend on Twitter. Users with many followers, such as musician Brian May and former Labour Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, have used the hashtag.

"It's not about forcing Cameron to resign," Gail, 33, told BBC Trending. She didn't want to give the BBC her full name but describes herself as a "lefty person of Northern origin" on Twitter. Rather, she says, it's about enabling people to talk about their views and experiences. "We know a lot of people who are frustrated with politics and they feel they don't have a voice. Social media is our space."

Twitter posting
Tweet by John Prescott
A retweet by musician Brian May
Tweet about recession

The hashtag has been one of the top three Twitter trends all week and Gail claims the campaign has reached 6 million people. "That would be a lot of doorsteps to visit, if you were campaigning," the Labour Party member and veteran canvasser says.

People using the slogan have also been targeting The Guardian and BBC Trending to try to get media coverage for the trend - and so boost its popularity further.

So could this be the beginning of a new phase of British 'hashtag politics'? No, according to Andrew Walker, co-founder of social media analytics company, Tweetminster. "I give it two weeks," he tells BBC Trending.

He says hashtags can quickly become popular on Twitter, but it's difficult to keep a campaign rolling, as new catchphrases are coined and catch on. And while social media is effective at influencing local politics, it's less effective at making a big impact on national politics, where voting behaviour is hard to shift, he says, noting that 29.6% of seats have never changed party.

Twitter message directed at BBC Trending Twitter users have actively tried to gain BBC Trending's attention

Jon Swindon, the co-founder of the hashtag, describes himself as "Father, Husband, Rather Political, Against Tories/UKIP/Biased Media & Poverty" on Twitter. He and Gail had their first hashtag success when they coined the slogan #WeBackEd, in support of Ed Milliband, earlier this month. They were surprised at how it took off - being tweeted 42,000 times in less than 24 hours at the peak of its popularity - and were pleased to see how they could get people talking about politics.

"Reading the tweets, I've been moved by some of the stories people have told me - how their life has changed since the Coalition came into power," Gail says.

Reporting by Ruth Alexander

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


'Riot Tips': the online reaction to the Ferguson unrest

Police in riot gear walk past a burning building in Ferguson, Missouri

As the US town of Ferguson saw rioting in the streets, a sarcastic "Ferguson Riot Tips" hashtag on Twitter was started.

Search with #FergusonRiotTips, and you'll find very few genuine pointers for rioters among the online posts from those looking on through their phones and laptops and televisions.

"If you're gonna smash windows and throw rocks at police, expect tear gas in return," a Tea-Party-supporting user named Bossy Brat tweeted from Texas. "Protestors raiding #McDonalds ...I would have gone for at least an #OliveGarden but to each their own," tweeted Hannah in Nashville.

Martin Luther King quote is shared on Twitter

The United State's racial divide - the tension behind the Michael Brown story - is also part of the discussion.

"Imagine what Chicago would look like if blacks rioted everytime a black killed a black say from gang violence," tweeted Sean Jenks from Colorado.

"When have u ever seen white people destroy their own community because they were upset with something black ppl did?!" tweets AJ in San Antonio.

"When you're a white group protesting the President, it's "citizenship". A black group protesting racism is a "mob"", observes a blogger in Washington, Charles Clymer.

Some have accused people posting comments under this hashtag of racism. One tweeter advised rioters to "pull your pants up so you don't trip and drop your [state benefits] card". "OH WOW!!!!" comes the response from another, a black woman in Dallas, who's showing her support for the protesters by retweeting comments like "no justice for Mike Brown".

Rioter runs in front of burning building A protester runs in front of a burning business during rioting on November 25, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein)

But still others are using the hashtag to try to bring people together. Several hundred people shared a quotation by Martin Luther King, which begins "Nonviolence is the answer".

And one of the most shared online comments during the unrest - 38,000 tweets and counting - was first posted by a boy in Virginia: "Not all cops r bad Not all black ppl r criminals Not all white people r racist. Stop labeling. It's 2014 let's get equal".

Reporting by Ruth Alexander

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


Rapping for Putin

"Go Hard Like Vladimir Putin", a rap track by two African immigrants living in Russia, has been viewed over a million times. Many Russians are uploading their own versions to social media.

There have been concerns in the past about how African immigrants have been received in the country, with groups like the MPC Task Force Against Racism reporting that although racial violence has decreased it's still a part of everyday life. But the two MCs behind this video say that's a thing of the past and Vladimir Putin is a role model for hard work and diligence.

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending.

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


Why some Arabs reject Sharia

A minaret silhouetted against the moon

A growing social media conversation in Arabic is calling for the implementation of Sharia, or Islamic law, to be abandoned.

Discussing religious law is a sensitive topic in many Muslim countries. But on Twitter, a hashtag which translates as "why we reject implementing Sharia" has been used 5,000 times in 24 hours. The conversation is mainly taking place in Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The debate is about whether religious law is suitable for the needs of Arab countries and modern legal systems.

Dr Alyaa Gad, an Egyptian doctor living in Switzerland, started the hashtag. "I have nothing against religion," she tells BBC Trending, but says she is against "using it as a political system". Islamists often call for legal systems to be reformed to be consistent with Sharia principles, and some want harsh interpretations of criminal punishments to be implemented. Dr Gad says she is worried about young people adopting the extremes of this kind of thinking. "You see it everywhere now, Islamic State is spreading mentally as well as physically" she told BBC Trending.

One of Dr Gad's tweets compared what action is taken against those who commit crimes under strict interpretations of Sharia to those who do so in Western societies.

A Tweet in Arabic The Tweet says: "A thief under Sharia rule has his hand cut off and becomes a burden on society - and a Norwegian criminal is rehabilitated to become a good citizen"

Many others joined in the conversation, using the hashtag, listing reasons why Arabs and Muslims should abandon Sharia. "Because there's not a single positive example of it bringing justice and equality," one man tweeted. "Because IS and Somalia and Afghanistan implement it, and we've seen the results," commented another. A few Saudis who joined the online conversation shared their experience of coming from a country that adheres to Islamic law. "In Saudi Arabia we tried implementing Sharia, and know first-hand the bitterness of being ruled by a religious power," a Saudi man living in California tweeted. And a Saudi woman commented: "By adhering to Sharia we are adhering to inhumane laws. Saudi Arabia is saturated with the blood of those executed by Sharia".

Cartoon from twitter The caption for this cartoon reads: "Marrying four [women] and underage girls and slaves is moral. But a consensual relationship between two unmarried people is immoral and against Islam".

However a large proportion of those tweeting were less critical. They argued that the problem was not religious law per se, but a flawed understanding and interpretation of it. An Egyptian living in Bahrain tweeted: "There has never been anything wrong with Sharia, but it's how we implement it". Another Egyptian commented: "There is no singular understanding of Sharia. The Muslim Brotherhood have one understanding, the Salafists have another and so do IS, Boko Haram and al-Qaeda".

Others found the hashtag to be offensive to Muslims. Dr Gad, who started it, was called a "non-believer". Another commented: "You don't want Sharia because you want homosexuality, alcohol and adultery."

Dr Gad, who has a popular YouTube channel that discusses sexuality and health issues, says she is used to this kind of reaction to the topics she initiates. She says one of the reasons she started the hashtag is because she values her right to speak out - a right she says her friends back in Egypt don't have in the same way. "If I were living in Egypt I would not be half as courageous as I am now," she says.

Reporting by Mai Noman

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


The BBC Trending Podcast

Part of the team singing #AfricaStopEbola Part of the team singing #AfricaStopEbola

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

India: The case of Roji Roy.

How a nursing student who took her own life in Kerala, south India, has become a symbol in a fight against corporate India and the "ruling class". Following her death at the beginning of November, Keralites began to turn against the mainstream media. They protested that Roji Roy's death hadn't been covered due to corporate interests. Thousands have united behind the 'Justice for Roji Roy' campaign on Facebook, with over 50 pages now dedicated to her.

Syria: The 'hero boy' hoax.

A recent video that appeared to show the grainy images of a boy going to the rescue of a little girl during a shoot out in a street in Syria gained millions of views and was reported as seemingly real by media outlets all around the world.

As BBC Trending first reported, it turned out to be staged by film makers from Norway. They had filmed it in Malta using actors. On our radio programme, we look into the consequences of what happened: speaking to a Syrian blogger who says it's blighted citizen journalism, and discussing whether authenticity is something you can ever really expect on the internet.

Trending Ebola songs

Bob Geldof brought together artists to re-record Band Aid to raise awareness and money to fight Ebola in West Africa. But it is not the only song raising awareness about Ebola. BBC Trending takes a look at other other songs by West African artists.

One of the biggest songs right now is Africa Stop Ebola, which famous West African artists including Tiken Jah Fakoly, Amadou & Mariam, Salif Keita, Oumou Sangare and others While in Guinea,'Un Geste Pour La Vie contre Ebola' produced by Meurs Libre Production is popular.

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

The programme was presented by Mukul Devichand and produced by Charlotte McDonald.


Video of nanny abusing toddler shocks Uganda

Woman feeds baby

A video apparently showing a maid physically abusing a young child in Uganda has been watched more than 21 million times in just four days on Facebook.

The graphic footage, which is taken from a camera hidden in the corner of the living room, shows the woman Jolly Tumuhiirwe, 22, hitting the 18-month-old girl when she resists feeding and then throwing her to the floor, beating her with a torch, before stepping on her and kicking her.

The child's father Eric Kamanzi said he installed the camera after he noticed bruises on his daughter and that she was limping. After capturing the violence on film, the police say he reported the incident to the police on 13 November.

The disturbing video has since been widely shared on the internet, provoking horror and upset from Uganda to California.

It's also raising a debate in Uganda about whether it's safe to pay for childcare. In a statement confirming that the maid has been arrested and charged with attempted murder, the police advise that people should "[take] great care while selecting domestic helpers." They recommend that families do background checks with friends, neighbours, local police, council and previous employers before taking on such an employee.

"I will continue being a stay home mum till my child is of age," a Facebook user named Daughter-of-A-Queen posted.

"After watching this I am even happier that my wife made the decision to be a stay home mother," George D Barugahare says.

"If the mother is not working, where was she?" comments Omukama Kabarega, from Kampala.

In Uganda, there's no requirement for nannies to have qualifications and the police statement warns of other horror stories: "In extreme situations maids or helpers have suffocated babies to death, stuffed them in fridges, injected them with HIV/Aids, sexually molested infants and attempted suicide due to psychological problems and mental fits."

But the police also say that families should treat domestic staff well, and people commenting online have also raised the issue of how badly some maids are treated in Uganda.

"Am not condoning the act but let it ignite a discussion about our domestic affairs," Justus Amanya says on Facebook. "Most of us treat maids like robots not humans, most likely this is what happens. Some men rape maids, and psychologically these maids become mad...we need to start thinking. Its dangerous to stay with a stressed person whose desperation levels are acute. They can kill without knowing. Sometimes the real cause such scenes are the home owners. Regardless this act is sad and there's no measurable reason that can justify it. I too condemn."

The video made it on to the internet after the girl's father Kamanzi shared it privately with family members, who then passed it on to their friends - one of whom then posted it online.

"Personally, I prefer my privacy but I'm sure I helped a lot of people out there and on that note I'm happy that the video is out there," Kamanzi told BBC Trending.

He says his daughter is now physically well.

Ms Tumuhiirwe will appear in court on 8 December.

Reporting by Ruth Alexander and Samiha Nettikkara

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


The Rotting West

Flooded cars The caption reads: "Newly-built state-of-the-art car wash. Kalmar, Sweden"

Fake photos of the apparently grim reality of life in the West have been making Russians laugh online. But there's more to these pictures than meets the eye.

A user called "Anna from Moscow" has had a runaway hit with a page of joke photos she's hosted on the Russian social media platform VKontakte (think Facebook, but in Cyrillic). The photos, which claim to depict the bleak shabbiness of Parisian art gallery box offices, Swedish car washes and US playgrounds and the contrasting impressiveness of Russian society, have attracted more than 50,000 likes.

The title of the page - "Rotting West" or "Загнивающий Запад" - is a term borrowed from old anti-West USSR propaganda and is a clue to the ironic nature of the posts: they're sending up Russian propaganda.

This is Russia laughing at itself.

Or is it?

Derelict playground The caption reads: "Children's swings in Central Park. New York City , US"
Two women hand over money at shabby pay kiosk. The caption reads: "The Louvre box office. Paris, France."
Aerial view of city skyscrapers The caption reads: "New affordable housing scheme has sprung up. Pretzel-On-Don, Volgograd region, Russia"
Fire engine stuck in hole in road. The caption reads: "Fire Engine uses subway line for early response. Cologne, Germany"

When BBC Trending called Anna from Moscow it was a man who answered the phone. In Ukraine.

Yaroslav, and Igor, both students in Ukraine, have set up this page using an account with the name "Anna in Moscow".

Is this actually propaganda after all then - not Russian propaganda, but pro-Western Ukranian propaganda?

A group of men urinate in the open air "Ice-rink prepping ahead of the ice hockey World Championship Games. Toronto, Canada"

"No," says Yaroslav. "It's not propaganda. We don't hate the Russian people. We hate just the politics of Russia."

The pair claim to understand "the Russian soul" and although the page is liked by a large number of Ukranians they insist they're amusing a wider audience: "Russians, Ukranians, Belarussians who haven't been zombied by Russian media," Yaroslav says.

"Some Russians think that this is what Toronto is like but most people know it's ironic and that it's Russia."

Reporting: India Rakusen, Ruth Alexander and Natasha Touzovskaya

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


The minute after Obama announced his immigration plan

It took Barack Obama about 15 minutes to explain his immigration plan that will allow millions of immigrants living in United State to apply for work permits.

It is estimated that four million immigrants will benefit from Obama's reform package, forced through using executive orders. A decision made after a year-and-a-half of failed negotiations with Republicans. "What I'm describing is accountability - a common-sense, middle-ground approach," he said.

The US president's announcement had been widely publicised in advance and people gathered outside the White House to listen to what is considered to be a major shake-up.

Right after Mr Obama's address, thousands of people went on social media to express their thoughts. Here's what happened in the first 60 seconds.

Video journalist: Greg Brosnan.

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending

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


White Van-gate trends

Doctored image to show Harrods van parked outside Rochester house The image of the van Ms Thornberry tweeted is given a facelift

The #WhiteVanGate hashtag has taken off online as web users debate, and poke fun at, Labour MP Emily Thornberry's controversial tweet.

Emily Thornberry's resignation from the shadow cabinet following a tweet she sent of a picture of a house in Rochester with three England flags and a white van parked outside is provoking a lot of discussion online, and also serving as comic inspiration for some Twitter users.

White van parked outside Downing Street The country's most famous front door is drawn into the debate
House with images of Palestinian, Cuban and Venezuelan flags An image of Emily Thornberry's Islington home is doctored
White Vans trainer An image posted from a spoof Ed Balls Twitter account

The #WhiteVanGate hashtag has been tweeted almost 3,500 times. Ms Thornberry's original tweet which she posted on Thursday, while voting was taking place in the Rochester by-election, has been retweeted more than 800 times; her subsequent apology more than 300 times.

Reporting by Ruth Alexander

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All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


The curious case of Roji Roy

A photo of Roji Roy

When a nursing student in India took her own life, a massive social media campaign began in her name - but its real target is corporate India and the "ruling class".

It's easy to see why Roji Roy has come to symbolise, for many people online, the divide between ordinary people and an increasingly corporate and globalised India. She was young. She was from a poor family. She studied in one of India's increasing number of private hospitals, which describes itself as a "a landmark healthcare destination," and took her own life after a run-in with the authorities there.

Roji Roy died on 6 November after reportedly falling from the 10th floor of the Kerala Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS) hospital building in Thiruvananthapuram, in Kerala. A complaint had been made about her behaviour towards two first year students, who had accused her of "ragging" - a term to describe the bullying of new students. The hospital had started an inquiry into the bullying, which she denied, shortly before she died.

Her death has prompted thousands of people to post photos, videos and status updates on Facebook in support of the nursing student. There was a common theme running through all these social media protests: a rage against the "ruling class" in Kerala. People think her background had a bearing on the initial media coverage and police investigation.

The Facebook page, 'Justice for Roji Roy', has over 40,000 'likes' and receives hundreds of photos every day from its community. The page was shared among Keralites on social media and organisers say the campaign has attracted support from Indians in the Middle East, the UK, South Africa, and the United States. "We started the page because we felt there was a media silence," says Jahangeer Razack Paleri, one of the main administrators of the page. "The media are only giving news related to the corporate companies who are giving advertising to them. They are avoiding the poor sector of our society. Also, there was no police investigation or inquiry by the authorities, and this upset Keralites. We are very active on social media in general."

The uproar online has led to the state government announcing a probe.

Montage of photos of hands signalling support for the campaign
Candlelit vigil
Roji Roy campaigners
Photo of placard reads 'Justice for Roji Roy'
Roji Roy campaigners
  • 45,000 Facebook 'likes'
  • 92,000 mentions of 'Roji Roy' on Facebook

The hospital and the police deny any such agenda and say they simply acted in accordance with the rules.

"We are still conducting our investigation and have not reached any conclusion yet," Thiruvananthapuram police commissioner H. Venkatesh told BBC Trending.

"People have started twisting stories on social media about the hospital. Our mistake was we did what was legally required" said E M Najeeb, the hospital's executive director told the BBC. Indian law obliges an investigation into anyone accused of "ragging". The hospital is not being allowed to make its point, he added: "When we posted our statement on these Facebook pages, they are removed immediately" he said.

Jahangeer says that they have persisted with the Facebook campaign in the face of "severe threats" from anonymous callers. A posting on the Facebook page says the campaign is not against the hospital, but the "ruling class" in general.

Kerala has a tradition of left-wing politics and there has been widespread frustration with the way the news is reported - with "paid news" scandals rocking India and fear that the media will not report what large advertisers do not want them to.

Reporting by Ravin Sampat, India Rakusen & Samiha Nettikkara

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


West Africa's own Ebola anthem

Band Aid 30 is the most famous song raising awareness about Ebola, with millions of online views and downloads. But in West Africa, where the epidemic is concentrated, a different song is gaining attention.

Some of West Africa's most famous musicians have joined forces to make an Ebola appeal song, with profits going to Medicins Sans Frontieres. 'Africa Stop Ebola' is a homegrown project from the heart of the Ebola crisis.

Made before the recent release of the Band Aid 30 charity song, it has seen a surge in online views thanks to Bob Geldof's hit. But while the former aims to raise money to combat Ebola, the lyrics of 'Africa Stop Ebola' are meant to educate Africans about the disease, as well as giving them hope.

#BBCtrending reports.

Video journalist: Greg Brosnan

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


The gospel of Philly Jesus

Michael Grant, aka Philly Jesus, is a sensation online and on the street

Michael Grant is 28 years old and for the last seven months he has been walking through the streets of Philadelphia dressed up like Jesus.

Jesus, though, never carried a smart phone: Mr Grant has over 5,000 followers on his @PhillyJesus instagram account and has become a local celebrity.

Mr Grant can't walk a single block without being stopped by fans, who want a selfie with him. This Saturday he was arrested in the city's Love Park for soliciting tips.

He posted on Twitter "People come up to me and ask me to take pics with them and for them..I tell them i Dont charge but tips are welcome.. cop said u r soliciting".

His arrest lead to a minor outcry and the hashtag "#FreePhillyJesus".

The BBC's Anna Bressanin met him in Philadelphia to try to understand who he is. Is he a street performer looking for fame? Is he an unconventionally creative preacher? Or does he really believe he is Jesus?

Reported by Anna Bressanin

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What price Mexico's "White House"?

Still from Carmen Aristegui's report on YouTube

Telenovelas - or TV serials - are a profitable business in Mexico. But social media users have been sceptical about whether the country's First Lady earned enough from starring in them to afford the mansion that she and the President share.

It's been dubbed Mexico's "White House" - the private family home of Mexico's President and First Lady. Accusations about how the $7m (£4m) property was acquired have fuelled the latest of the scandals surrounding President Enrique Peña Nieto, and sparked the anger of many on social media who already criticise Nieto's handling of the recent disappearance of 43 students. It has been revealed that the actual owner of the property is his wife Angelica Rivera, former soap opera actress also known as "Gaviota" ("seagull"), named for one of her roles.

This week, First Lady Rivera entered the fray herself. She published a video on her YouTube channel, viewed over 1.9m times, outlining how her successful career allowed her to earn around $6,5m (£4m) - in other words enough to buy the house. "I can prove to you that I have the financial means to have a personal wealth for me and my daughters," she says in her seven minute address.

The declaration was suppose to ease her husband's latest scandal, but online at least, the result was far from that.

Tweet This text reads: how much did Angelica Rivera "La Gaviota" earn?

After the video was posted, her name became a world trend on Twitter, and several related hashtags made it to Mexico's top five trending topics. Much of the chatter was from the general public, showing surprise and consternation, but other soap stars were highly critical. "Why did I moved to TV Azteca and later to L.A, if Televisa was paying so well?" Mexican Hollywood actress Ana de la Reguera posted on her Twitter account. The remark has been retweeted 46,661 times. Writer and journalist Guadalupe Loaeza decided to post a meme with the houses of renowned stars priced in dollars.

Tweet The text at the bottom of the meme reads: "Everything is very clear"

"I have nothing to hide," Mrs Rivera says at the end of her YouTube video, while announcing that she will sell now the "White House" for the good of her family.

Reporting by Gabriela Torres

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Feminist Hacker Barbie

Barbie book pages showing altered text InfoSec Tayler Swift's Barbie book edit

Hundreds of people online have been rewriting a Barbie book using the #FeministHackerBarbie hashtag to correct what they call "sexist" attitudes.

It all started when blogger and screenwriter Pamela Ribon picked up the Barbie "I Can be a Computer Engineer" book at her friend's house. The book was published in 2010 but Ribon only recently discovered it. She later wrote on her blog that she was shocked to find that Barbie doesn't actually do any computer engineering herself in the book, but instead relies on two male friends to do it for her. "I'm only creating the design ideas," Barbie says in the book, as she explains to her sister that she's working on a computer game. "I'll need Steven and Brian's help to turn it into a real game!"

And by the end of the book, Steven and Brian fix Barbie's laptop for her.

"[We] were so livid after reading this book we spent the first fifteen minutes spitting out syllables and half-sounds," Ribon wrote on her blog. "I want this thing to start a meme of girls screaming, 'I don't need a Brian or a Steven!'"

Soon after she published her blog, #FeministBarbieHacker started trending on Twitter.

The trend was driven by real-life computer engineer Kathleen Tuite, who created a Feminist Hacker Barbie web app, inviting people to "Help make Computer Engineer Barbie better!" You can delete the book's original words and insert your own instead or, as Tuite's app puts it, "Fix a page in Barbie's book".

Edited page of Barbie book If Barbie really were a computer engineer...

And many people have been.

And it seems that the owner of the Barbie-brand Mattel may now take inspiration from the guerrilla sub-editors of social media. The book no longer appears for sale on Amazon and a statement on Mattel's Facebook page reads:

"The portrayal of Barbie in this specific story doesn't reflect the Brand's vision for what Barbie stands for. We believe girls should be empowered to understand that anything is possible and believe they live in a world without limits. We apologize that this book didn't reflect that belief. All Barbie titles moving forward will be written to inspire girl's imaginations and portray an empowered Barbie character."

Reporting by Ruth Alexander

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A pat from the prime minister

Thai prime minister surrounded by journalists, patting one on the head Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha's hand pats the head of a journalist kneeled in front of him throughout a press briefing. Emphasis added.

An unusual gesture by Thai Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-Ocha has led to widespread speculation online.

It all started when journalist Wassana Nanuam uploaded a video onto Facebook on Wednesday. It was from a media briefing by Prime Minister Prayuth, delivered in the north-eastern province of Khon Kaen. The PM is seen stroking the head and gently tugging the ear of a journalist who is kneeling before him, wearing a baseball cap. He was among several journalists crouching near the leader to allow cameras an unobstructed view.

The journalists were asking the prime minister - who took power after leading a military coup in May - about the arrest of protesters the night before. Five students had been arrested after they did a three-fingered salute of resistance - inspired by the Hunger Games book and its Hollywood film trilogy - which was banned in Thailand after the coup. They have since been released without being charged, report local media. At the press conference, the journalists ask Gen Prayuth Chan-Ocha whether he is frightened by the protesters' act of defiance. He jokes that he feels safe in the presence of journalists, as he strokes the head of one of the assembled press pack.

Others in the crowd join him in laughter, but on social media, there is a sense of disgust, and speculation about the meaning of the leader's gesture. A user sharing the video on Facebook says, "It is obvious that the prime minister who came to power after a coup is bullying a journalist. Media organisations should not stay quiet." A comment on YouTube sarcastically said: "It's like petting a dog at home. Very cute. I'm sure he's kind to all poor pets," while another comment read: "I think you should just sit on his head."

The video has now been viewed more than 11,500 times on Facebook. Another version, uploaded by Thailand's Matichon TV onto YouTube, has had more than 35,000 hits.

Why so much anger? Well for one thing, in Thailand's Buddhist culture, it can be offensive to touch the head of another person. "If a parent touches the head of their children, it shows caring. But for the relationship between a prime minister and a journalist, it can be offensive," says Treepon Kirdnark from the BBC's Thai Service. The journalist whose head was patted did not appear to object to the leader's gesture, and some say that the action might have been intended to show camaraderie. But, others wondered whether the leader was sending a message to other journalists at the scene that he is firmly in charge of all in the country.

Woman uses three finger salute in front of Hunger Games movie poster A protester uses the Hunger Games salute on 20 November

"Ties between the media and the authorities are complicated and multi-faceted - it is like a patron-client relationship at times," says Kirdnark. Last week, a group of journalists launched a campaign online after the host of a Thai public service broadcaster was removed, urging the military government to stop "intimidating" the media.

Thai authorities have denied any malicious intent behind the prime minister's behaviour. The gesture was just good-natured teasing of the journalists, according to deputy government spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd. "It's not weird for him to be playful with them," he said.

Reporting by Samiha Nettikkara

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The dress that shocked Arabs

Singer and backing singers Haifa Wehbe appears on Arab Star Academy

A dress worn by a famous Lebanese pop star on TV has caused an outcry on Arab social media - mainly among women

Last week, Lebanese singer Haifa Wehbe performed a song during a live episode of Arab Star Academy, a pan-Arab TV music talent contest, wearing a figure-hugging long black dress with revealing sheer panels. Over 2 million people watched the performance online after several copies of the video were uploaded onto YouTube. So far, so show business - but the intensity of debate that followed online seemed to indicate how polarised the debate on female dress in the Arab World has become.

Many of the reactions on social media, mostly from women in Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, were strongly critical of the star's choice of dress. "Scandalous" was a much used term. One YouTube user commented: "Art has limits and you, Haifa, have crossed the line". Views about what women can and can't wear vary hugely across the Arab world. While in Lebanon miniskirts and bikinis are not uncommon, in other more conservative societies such as Saudi Arabia women cover their faces and bodies fully in black. But even in such traditional societies, women will often follow celebrity styles when alone in women-only gatherings.

Wehbe has caused a stir before with her outfits. "It is true that we got used to her wearing scandalous clothes but not to this extent…it was a shock for the viewers," an Egyptian woman on Twitter commented. But not everyone thought the dress was in poor taste. A female YouTube user wrote "you should be used to the way she dresses by now and after all everyone is free to dress as they wish". And another defended her saying "She's not the first or the last to wear a revealing dress, and she looked beautiful in it".

Dana Khairallah, a Lebanese lifestyle blogger, says that people kicked up a fuss about this outfit because of an ongoing struggle within Arab culture. "They think if women dress this way it would misrepresent our culture," she says. "I find that hypocritical. I see Arab girls dressing more provocatively in clubs but no one cares because there are no cameras."

"There's also an element of social media meanness in what is happening that drives this bullying of celebrities." she adds.

Tweet with image of dress Haifa Wehbe tweeted that she was surprised at how the dress looked on stage

Haifa is on one side of the debate within Arab society. The Islamic State represents the other extreme in people's minds and some have pointed to the contrasts between both worlds Arabs are exposed to today. In a Facebook comment, one man said "These type of Arab female celebrities need to meet the Islamic State". Another joked by sharing an image of a man with a long beard holding a mobile with the caption "Hello…ISIS!!", as though he were reporting her.

A few comments also drew parallels with Kim Kardashian's photo shoot last week, after the internet was flooded with images of the American celebrity's bottom last week and the hashtag #breaktheinternet trended. "After Kim Kardahsian's attempt to break the internet, I find Haifa Wehbe's see-through dress on star academy to be quite modest," commented a female Jordanian on Twitter.

The Egyptian channel CBC, which airs the Star Academy TV show, issued an apology on its channel for the star's appearance on the show. Wehbe herself blamed the stage lighting in a tweet, saying the original dress appeared more modest but that she "was surprised that it looked very different with the strong lighting on the stage"

Reporting by Mai Noman

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Anonymous versus the Ku Klux Klan

Members of the Fraternal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan participate in the 11th Annual Nathan Bedford Forrest Birthday march July 11, 2009 in Pulaski, Tennessee Ku Klux Klan members threatened those expecting to protest over the death of Michael Brown

Did the hacktivist group Anonymous go too far in fighting the KKK?

With a promise that "This is just the beginning," the international hacktivist group Anonymous continued to control the Ku Klux Klan's online presence on Tuesday days after the KKK threatened to hurt potential protesters in Ferguson, Missouri. On social media, many celebrated the online group's actions.

The Anonymous cyberwar started during the weekend after the white supremacist group issued a warning to any potential rioters waiting for a grand jury decision on a possible charges against Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in August.

Using the hashtags #OpKKK and #HoodsOff, Anonymous "unhooded" alleged Klan members online, and provided links to social media accounts which contained their photos, addresses, phone numbers, ages, workplaces, and photos of their children.

Most Twitter users appeared supportive of Anonymous.

Start Quote

We would never post pictures of their kids, or where they live. We don't out any small person who has radical right views; only if they are hiding behind anonymity to do something really loathsome”

End Quote Mark Potok Southern Poverty Law Center

"I daresay that @KuKluxKlanUSA will remember, remember, remember the 16th of November. Bravo, Anonymous, Bravo. #oppKKK #hoodsoff," wrote Carlos Larkin.

After back-and-forth taunting, in which the KKK wrote "We are continuing to read Anonymous threats with much amusement" and "I thought you Anons were all about free speech. Cowards!", Anonymous gained access to the KKK website and took over its Twitter account.

The most recent tweet from the hacked @KuKluxKlanUSA account was on Monday evening, showing a unicorn and rainbow in front of a sunset scene.

Responding to criticism about violating free speech, Anonymous released this statement:

"We are not attacking you because of what you believe in, as we fight for freedom of speech. We are attacking you because of your threats to use lethal attacks against us at the Ferguson protests… The Ku Klux Klan is a terrorist group. The blood of thousands of human beings are on the hands of the Klansmen."

Although every American has a right to free speech, The Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights organisation that tracks hate groups, argues that the right does not include permission to organise hate crimes.

Screenshot of Anonymous-hacked tweet A recent tweet from the hacked Klan twitter account

But while they have also exposed members of hate groups, they take a different approach than that of Anonymous.

"As a general matter, we will out people if we feel they are major player in the movement," said Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Law Center.

"We would never post pictures of their kids, or where they live. We don't out any small person who has radical right views; only if they are hiding behind anonymity to do something really loathsome."

For its part, Anonymous is not giving up.

"Let the cyberwar begin," it announced in a video. "We are legion. We do not forget. We do not forgive. Ku Klux Klan, you should have expected us."

Reporting by Celeste Altus


Libya's hashtag of hope

Tawfik Bensaud was 15 when he started his pro- democracy activism online in Benghazi, in the early days of Libya's 2011 revolution.

He was 18 when he was gunned down for his views.

It comes amid increased death threats online in Libya, with Facebook pages being used to name people to be targeted by Islamist militia fighters.

#BBCtrending reports on how thousands rallied behind Tawfik online after his death, amid increasing chaos and a rise of assassinations in Libya.

Reporter: Mukul Devichand

Producer: Samiha Nettikkara

Video journalist: Greg Brosnan.

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'Sects & the city' and more #MuslimSitcoms

Ever heard of "The Fasting And The Furious," or "Circumcised Boy Meets World"? Just two of the jokes being shared, mostly by Muslims, in a global humour hashtag #MuslimSitcoms.

The trend began on Monday when Pakistani law student Mansoor Bashir tweeted: "It's always Sunni in Pakistan #MuslimSitcoms." The post used the title of an American sitcom 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia' to highlight sectarian issues in Pakistan.

Tweet from Mansoor Bashir which started the #MuslimSitcoms hashtag says "It's Always Sunni in Pakistan" The trend began with a tweet meant to prompt a conversation on sectarian issues in Pakistan

Bashir tells BBC Trending his tweet was meant to prompt a conversation about Pakistan's Sunni-Shia divide. He wants to use humour to get his countrymen and women talking about the issue, he says. Members of the minority Shia community in Pakistan have been the victims of several violent attacks from Sunni militants.

But the hashtag was used for a much wider discussion than that. Relationships, food habits, politics and terrorism were all referenced under #MuslimSitcoms. "How I Met Your Mother After The Nikkah Formalities Were Completed," said one (the nikah refers to a Muslim marriage contract). "Sects and the city," tweeted another.

Tweet used with #MuslimSitcoms hashtag
Tweet used with #MuslimSitcoms hashtag
Tweet with #MuslimSitcoms hashtag

An older meme showing a group of women in burqa with the caption "Daeshperate Housewives" has also resurfaced (Daesh is another word for the radical Islamic State group). "Bacon Bad," tweeted another.

The hashtag rapidly spread to countries all over the world, including the USA and Australia, and was used 13,000 times. However it was in South Asia that it was used most, becoming a top trend in India and Pakistan. The hashtag #HinduSitcoms has also since emerged to joke about social norms in Hindu communities. "This is self-deprecating humour at its finest, some of the funniest #MuslimSitcom tweets I've seen are by Indian Hindus and vice versa about #HinduSitcoms," says Khaver Siddiqi, a social media consultant of Pakistani origin who is currently based in India.

It wasn't all in good humour, however. Some used it to criticise the Islamic faith, which others took as Islamophobic. An account which posted remarks such "Ali Baba and his 40 wives and 120 children" told BBC Trending that their posts were both a way to criticize Islam as well as an attempt to join in on a trending topic.

Bashir, who started the hashtag, says he noticed a few racist and xenophobic tweets but didn't mind - as in his view it "comes with the territory" of being Pakistani or Muslim. This is not the first time Muslims have used humour about social norms on Twitter. Back in September, Muslims around the world posted sarcastic messages using the hashtag #MuslimApologies to counter hostility against Islam.

Reporting by Samiha Nettikkara

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Open letter to fake 'Syria hero boy' director

Filming 'Syria Hero Boy' on set in Malta in May 2014 Filming 'Syria Hero Boy' on set in Malta in May 2014

Journalists and activists around the world have signed an open letter to the Norwegian film director who staged a video showing a 'Syria hero boy' under gunfire. The letter addressed to director Lars Klevberg condemns the video as "reckless", "irresponsible" and "deceptive".

The video has been viewed almost 8 million times in total. The filmmakers claimed they wanted to ignite a conversation about children in conflict. But signatories of the open letter disagree. "This film undermines the work and the people who continue to document crimes against humanity," it says. There has also been anger online from Syrians themselves.

On the YouTube page where the staged video was originally posted, the conversation turned towards politics in Syria. Many referenced the video to reinforce their political views. "All the videos you guys have seen about how Assad is bombing and shooting his own people are fake and most of them were exposed. I knew this video was fake the first time i saw it." wrote one YouTube user, Baccara Hakim. "It is fake but that doesn't mean that its not happening everyday in Syria," wrote another, Nadia Haj.

"It has now deterred people from sharing potentially dramatic news items unless we all become video forensics experts overnight" Aboud Dandachi, a displaced Syrian from Homs, now based in Istanbul, told BBC Trending. "This has been the biggest setback to citizen journalism since the concept began. The children will no longer be the topic of discussion."

"The misery of children -and others - in Syria is very real. There is no need to fictionalise it. Fictionalising in order to draw attention to it does the exact opposite of the desired effect," Kinda Haddad, a Syrian-Dutch journalist, told BBC Trending. "It introduces doubt into any story that has come out of Syria over the last few years as well as anything that will come out in future. People on both sides will use this to their advantage. And if people are unable to tell the difference between fact and fiction they will quickly lose interest in a conflict that is causing untold misery."

Tweet from Andy Carvin

Fred Abrahams of Human Rights Watch said the video did more damage than good. "Now I'm just disgusted," Abrahams wrote. "By releasing a fake video, Klevberg (the director) has made it easier for war criminals to dismiss credible images of abuse."

Reporting by Anne-Marie Tomchak

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Trends of the week in 60 seconds

Trending 60 seconds

Were there scientific plot holes in the new film Interstellar? Why is a 90-year-old being arrested for feeding the homeless in Florida? What would happen if Saudi Arabia ran out of oil?

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

Produced by Ravin Sampat and India Rakusen

Images courtesy of Getty Images, Love Kolkata, ESA

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

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The BBC Trending Podcast

Libyan activist Tawfik Bensaud Libyan activist Tawfik Bensaud

Listen to or download the latest BBC Trending podcast to learn more about Libyan activist Tawfik Bensaud, and more trends from across the world.

Libya

We explore the way death threats are being made online in Libya. The killing of 18-year-old prominent activist Tawfik Bensaud two months ago provoked anger and hurt on social media. Thousands showed their support using the hashtag #IamTawfik. But more recently many activists have kept a low profile online after they were directly threatened on a number of Facebook pages. The killings have also continued, with three activists targeted last week. We speak to Tawfik Bensaud's cousin Huda El Khoja, and to one of the founders of Libyan Youth Movement on Facebook, Ayat Mneina.

Russia and Ukraine

'Rotten West', a new page on Russian site Vkontakte, has gathered thousands of followers in the past weeks. The satirical irony pairs grim pictures from Russia with references to western cities to make fun of Russians who laugh at the apparently decaying West. And the creator of the group, "Anna from Moscow" may not be all that she seems.

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

The programme was presented by Mukul Devichand and produced by India Rakusen.

(Image: Tawfik Bensaud with kind permission of the Bensaud family)


What will Saudis do when oil runs out?

Saudi Shepherd with his sheep A shepherd and his goats in Saudi Arabia

What will happen to Saudis and Kuwaitis when they run out of oil? An Arabic hashtag expressing that fear has now been used a million times.

Early last week, an Arabic hashtag that translates to 'Your job after oil runs out...' begun to trend mostly in Saudi Arabia but also in neighbouring Kuwait. Citizens of these countries used it to make jokes, but there was also serious contemplation of a future without their once abundant oil wealth. Some Saudis contemplated returning to a simpler life style and perhaps becoming shepherds. Others were a bit more pessimistic about their nation's future. "I'm unemployed and there are another million like me, so how much worse will it get when oil runs out?" one man commented on Twitter. Despite being the largest oil producer in the region, Saudi Arabia has had a longstanding issue with unemployment.

Saudis are feeling insecure because oil prices recently hit a four-year low. That doesn't in itself tell us anything about oil supply - indeed if it was running out the price might be expected to rise - but in 2011 a Citigroup report warned that Saudi might run out of oil to export by 2030. Inside the country, many believe that the kingdom is not ready for a future without oil. One Saudi tweeted: "I fear we will say we wasted our oil in luxury and opulence and didn't make use of it in scientific advances that will benefit us and the coming generations."

The International Monetary Fund has recently urged the Saudi government to spend less and use its money better for a time when oil runs out. Over the last few years, Saudi has spent more on welfare and is now embarking on large infrastructure projects. But some of the comments online were critical of government's 'generosity' in foreign aid. "I would take back the financial aid we handed to countries left and right...we have more right to that money," one of the few female Saudis who commented said.

Despite its oil reserves, ordinary people in Saudi have expressed anxiety over the economy in the recent past. Back in July, people used the hashtag "the salary does not meet my needs" and discussed the financial struggles some people face even in one of the world's wealthiest nations. The fear of a post-oil era extended to neighbouring Kuwait, albeit amongst a much smaller population. Kuwaitis also became active using the hashtag to express similar concerns on social media. One Kuwaiti commented "I pray to God not to see that day because this generation can't be self-sufficient".

Reporting by Mai Noman

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