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20 November 2014 Last updated at 18:32

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 Tyler 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. 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.

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


'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

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


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

What impact has this staged video had on the cause of children in Syria? Get in touch with us@BBCtrending

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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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'Hero boy' video faked by Norwegians

Millions of YouTube viewers have been captivated by the 'Syrian hero boy' who manages to rescue a little girl while under gunfire. Now a group of Norwegian filmmakers have told BBC Trending they are behind it. They say it was filmed on location in Malta this summer with the intention of being presented as real.

Lars Klevberg, a 34-year-old film director based in Oslo, wrote a script after watching news coverage of the conflict in Syria. He says he deliberately presented the film as reality in order to generate a discussion about children in conflict zones.

"If I could make a film and pretend it was real, people would share it and react with hope," he said. "We shot it in Malta in May this year on a set that was used for other famous movies like Troy and Gladiator," Klevberg said. "The little boy and girl are professional actors from Malta. The voices in the background are Syrian refugees living in Malta."

Were they comfortable making a film that potentially deceived millions of people? "I was not uncomfortable," Klevberg said. "By publishing a clip that could appear to be authentic we hoped to take advantage of a tool that's often used in war; make a video that claims to be real. We wanted to see if the film would get attention and spur debate, first and foremost about children and war. We also wanted to see how the media would respond to such a video."

A film being shot in a desert setting The crew filming the video in Malta

In fact the film received funding from the Norwegian Film Institute (NFI) and the Audio and Visual Fund from Arts Council Norway in October 2013. The filmmakers say their application for funding made clear they wanted to upload the film to the internet without making it obvious it was real or fiction. They also claim that those who financed it were aware of, and supported, these intentions.

"The children surviving gunshots was supposed to send small clues that it was not real," said producer John Einar Hagen. "We had long discussions with the film's financiers about the ethics around making a film like this."

"It was not a cynical way to get attention. They had honest motivations," Ase Meyer, short film commissioner for the NFI told BBC Trending. "I was surprised people thought it was real. When I see the film, the little boy is shot but he keeps on running. There is no blood on the child." The NFI awarded 280,000 kroner (£26,480) towards its production. "It was a really low budget film," says Ms Meyer. "People normally apply for more money."

However, when Ms Meyer heard that the film was online she contacted the filmmakers to encourage them to reveal it was fiction. When asked if the NFI had a responsibility to tell people the film wasn't real, Ms Meyer said "It was the responsibility of the filmmakers".

Film crew in Malta A group shot of the film crew in Malta

So once the film was made, how did it go viral? "It was posted to our YouTube account a few weeks ago but the algorithm told us it was not going to trend," Klevberg said. "So we deleted that and re-posted it." The filmmakers say they added the word "hero" to the new headline and tried to send it out to people on Twitter to start a conversation. It was then picked up by Shaam Network, a channel that features material from the Middle East, which posted it on YouTube. Then it began to attract international attention.

Since being uploaded to YouTube on Monday the video has been watched more than five million times and inspired thousands of comments. There has been a big debate about whether it is genuine. How those viewers will react to learning that it's a work of fiction remains to be seen. "We are really happy with the reaction," Klevberg said. "It created a debate."

Reporting by Anne-Marie Tomchak and Charlotte McDonald

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All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


Is video of Syrian 'hero boy' authentic?

A video purporting to show a Syrian boy under gunfire pretending to be dead in order to rescue a young girl has been viewed over 5 million times.

Some may find the content of the video disturbing. While many have proclaimed the boy as an inspirational hero, its authenticity has been widely questioned.

#BBCtrending spoke to Amira Galal of BBC Monitoring's Middle East team about the difficulties of verifying the truth behind it.

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


Rosetta physicist's 'sexist' shirt

Matt Taylor wearing a shirt covered in half-dressed women

One of the leading scientists on the Rosetta Project gave a string of TV interviews in a shirt emblazoned with half-dressed women. The angry reaction online spawned two hashtags, spoof images and has now led to a tearful apology as well.

The eyes of the world were focussed on Matt Taylor this week. The British scientist involved in the Rosetta Project - to land a spacecraft on a comet - was at the heart of media coverage of the event. And so was his shirt. On Wednesday he appeared in front of the cameras wearing a bespoke short-sleeved number, plastered in bright cartoon images of scantily-clad women.

People on Twitter were not amused. "Women are toooootally welcome in our community, just ask the dude in this shirt," tweeted a female tech journalist, sarcastically. She was sent abusive tweets in response. Science is seen by many as a male dominated world, and so the shirt only reinforces the notion that women aren't accepted on equal footing, claimed his critics. "For clarity -- No, the shirt is not "cool" or acceptable in a professional setting - on an engineer, scientist, or anyone," tweeted another user.

The hashtags #ShirtGate and #ShirtStorm appeared, and have been used more than 3,500 times. South African cosmologist Renée Hložek wrote a blog addressed to budding female scientists: "Yes, you are capable of being taken seriously," she wrote.

Pressure mounted on Taylor to apologise, while others lightened the mood by spoofing the photo. "Fixed it," claimed one tweeter, who posted a new image showing famous female scientists photoshopped onto the shirt. That image alone has been shared more than 2,700 times on Twitter.

Matt Taylor wearing a shirt covered in female scientists

The scientist wasn't without his sympathisers, however. "Poor Dr Matt Taylor. He landed on a comet and the only thing people seem to talk about are his tattoos and his shirt," wrote one.

BBC Trending contacted Taylor for comment but has not heard back. The outcry has evidently hit him hard though. During a press briefing this morning, he broke down in tears and apologised for his choice of clothes. "The shirt I wore this week, I made a big mistake and I offended many people," he said.

Scientist Matt Taylor has apologised for any offence caused by his shirt

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The US man 'delivered' from homosexuality

A preacher talking to a member of his congregation The video was shot at a conference in St Louis

Footage showing a man renouncing his homosexuality at a church event in St Louis has been viewed more than a million times - and now the man in question appears to have spoken out on Facebook.

"Coming out" stories are routine events on YouTube, but seeing the narrative reversed is more rare. "I'm not gay no more," says the man in the film, shot last week at a major gathering of the Church of God in Christ, a Pentecostal church with branches across America. It's a "deliverance" in which the man tells the crowd God has rid him of a demon - in this case his homosexuality. Now, he says, he likes "women, women, women". The preacher and other members of the crowd swarm around him, and join him in dance. It's been watched more than half a million times on both YouTube and World Star Hip-Hop, another video sharing site. The events in the video are so dramatic that several people questioned whether it was genuine. BBC Trending contacted Robert Coleman of the Church of God in Christ, who says it is indeed real footage, but doesn't know who uploaded it. The YouTube version has now been set to "private".

As might be expected, much of the objection came from supporters of gay rights. Damion-Parks Weekly, a gay man who left a similar church, posted a response encouraging others to do the same. "I feel really sad for the young man," he tells BBC Trending. Freda Harris shared the original video on Twitter. She is also gay, and grew up in a similar church. "People who aren't familiar with the Pentecostal religion, they probably find it funny," but "deliverance" services are commonplace, she says.

She's not wrong about people finding it funny. Swathes of people commenting seemed to find the clip hysterical. A parody which turns it into a song has been watched more than 300,000 times. "Gotta be the funniest video I've watched in 2014," tweeted one viewer, and "IN TEARS LAUGHING", wrote another on World Star. Many were referring to the man's fevered style, unusual grammar, and elaborate yellow bow-tie.

The man has now been named by a number of news outlets as Andrew Caldwell. Someone of the same name has posted on Facebook discussing his difficult upbringing, and saying he renounced homosexuality because his "lifestyle was not right", though we cannot verify this information.

"Homosexuality has always been a touchy issue in the Black church," says Lance Scurvin, who hosted a podcast about the video. He says many Pentecostal churches have gay members whose sexuality is rarely discussed in public, and for them the video shines unwanted attention on the matter. But for him, the film's popularity is as much about its tone as anything else. "The black church is being mocked for its circus like atmosphere."

A statement released by the Church of God in Christ to the BBC said that whilst it would not compromise its position "in favour of biblical teaching on matters of sexual conduct" - or in other words that it does not approve of homosexuality - it expected its leaders to be civil and considerate, and condemned harassment in all forms. "We love all people, regardless of their faith or moral standards," it said.

Reporting by Sam Judah

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An un-Fortunate Veterans Day choice?

Bruce Springsteen, Dave Grohl and Zac Brown sing Fortunate Son at the 2014 Concert for Valor.

The Concert for Valor in Washington, DC on Tuesday was intended as a Veterans Day celebration for US military personnel - as popular musicians and celebrities took to the stage to honour military service and heroism.

Beneath the good vibes, however, is a brewing controversy over the inclusion of the 1969 Vietnam War protest song Fortunate Son by Creedence Clearwater Revival, played early in the concert by Bruce Springsteen, Zac Brown and Dave Grohl.

The lyrics of the piece focus on the hypocrisy of politicians and the influential who supported the Vietnam War but made no sacrifices themselves.

Social media soon lit up with tens of thousands of mentions of the song title and Springsteen, both critical and supportive.

Grey line

Lyrics from Fortunate Son

Some folks are born made to wave the flag

Ooh, they're red, white and blue

And when the band plays "Hail to the Chief"

Oh, they point the cannon at you, Lord ...

Some folks inherit star spangled eyes

Ooh, they send you down to war, Lord

And when you ask them: "How much should we give?"

Oh, they only answer, more, more, more

It ain't me, it ain't me

I ain't no military son

It ain't me, it ain't me

I ain't no fortunate one ...

Grey line

The choice was "tone-deaf", writes the Weekly Standard's Ethan Epstein. Although it's musically appealing, he says, the song insulted the military audience in attendance.

"The song, not to put too fine a point on it, is an anti-war screed, taking shots at 'the red white and blue'," he writes, "It was a particularly terrible choice given that Fortunate Son is, moreover, an anti-draft song, and this concert was largely organised to honour those who volunteered to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq."

Breitbart's John Nolte doesn't have problem with criticising a draft that allowed the rich and connected to avoid selection, but he says the song also mocks those who patriotically serve in the military as unthinking dupes.

He calls Fortunate Son an "anti-military and anti-troop song written at a time when it was acceptable to trash the men and women who fight our wars as baby killers and worse".

Conservative consultant Ted Newton criticises the performance of Fortunate Son at the Concert for Valor

The initial wave of attacks led to a spirited defence of the song and the singers.

"Real patriotism entails exactly this: publicly challenging the status quo in a country you believe to be capable of better things," writes Jessica Goldstein in ThinkProgress.

It's true that not everyone has served in the US military by choice or due to patriotic fervour, writes Salon's Erin Keane, "but Veterans Day is for them, too".

"Fortunate Son honours the experience of those veterans who wouldn't have enlisted if they hadn't been drafted, but did," she says. "It also salutes those who took the best option available to them to access the ever-elusive American Dream and served with dignity and honour, while also raising an eyebrow at tax loopholes and other ways the rich stay in power and the working class get screwed."

Patton Oswalt tweets that the performance of Fortunate Son was "outrage over nothing".

Perhaps part of the conservative outrage is due to the involvement of veteran rock star Springsteen, who has long been involved in left-wing causes. In 2012, for instance, he gave free performances at President Barack Obama re-election campaign events in key battleground states.

On Wednesday afternoon Fortunate Son's author, John Fogerty, took to Facebook to weigh in on the brewing controversy, saying the meaning of his work "gets misinterpreted and even usurped by various factions wishing to make their own case".

"Years ago, an ultra-conservative administration tried to paint anyone who questioned its policies as 'un-American'," he posted. "That same administration shamefully ignored and mistreated the soldiers returning from Vietnam."

He concludes by noting that he was drafted and served in the Army (although not in Vietnam) during the war.

"I have ultimate respect for the men and women who protect us today and demand that they receive the respect that they deserve," he writes.

As of Thursday morning his post had more than 12,000 likes and 600 comments.

Reporting by Anthony Zurcher

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Did Kim Kardashian break the internet?

Kim Kardashian We have edited the image to obscure nudity

When Kim Kardashian appeared nude on the latest cover of Paper magazine with the caption 'Break the Internet' it certainly set the internet alight. Hundreds of thousands discussed Kardashian's body and she was the butt of many jokes as parody images circulated online. But there has also been a discussion about whether the images are fraught with racial undertones.

The cover image shows Kardashian smiling for the camera in her birthday suit with her posterior at the centre of the image. An alternative, less risqué, cover shows Kardashian wearing a sparkly dress and popping a bottle of champagne while resting a glass on her backside. She shared the photos to her 21 million followers on Instagram with the hashtag #breaktheinternet. The nude photo has been liked 762,000 times on Instagram and triggered more than 173,000 comments. And that's just on Kardashian's page. Kardashian has also been trending on Facebook and #breaktheinternet has been mentioned more than 178,000 times on Twitter.

Parody image of Kim Kardashian One of the parody images circulated online.

Speculation about the extent to which the photos were enhanced or airbrushed was a large part of the conversation. And as you'd expect, parody pictures and memes flooded in. Photo editing techniques were used to reinterpret the images and many took the opportunity to superimpose clothing onto Kardashian. Others used the counter hashtag #fixtheinternet.

Amid the jokes, there has also been a serious discussion about whether the image plays on crude stereotypes of black women. Kardashian is Armenian-American. The French photographer who took this picture, Jean-Paul Goude, is also known for his work featuring black women, including a shot from the 1970s that features a remarkably similar pose to Kardashian's photo. That has led some claim that there is a racial subtext around these images. A blog to this effect, entitled 'Kim Kardashian doesn't realise she's the butt of an old racial joke' has been liked more than 36,000 times on Facebook.

Mikki Kendall, an African-American writer and cultural critic, told BBC Trending that the popularity of Kardashian's image shows how "black" body features are often more acceptable on white women. "The Kim Kardashian cover is the latest example of how racial double standards around nudity are enforced, as well as a prime example of how often women who do pose nude for art are attacked while the artists are absolved," she said.

Reporting by Anne-Marie Tomchak.

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending. Get in touch with us on Twitter @BBCtrending.


Does Guatemala need to be 'rescued'?

A woman prays at a temple outside Guatemala City

Corruption scandals, protests and violence are not new in Guatemala - but in the past few days thousands have declared that "enough is enough" by using a new Twitter hashtag.

This isn't the first time that the Twitter user "Mr Lord Chapin" - who is widely followed but wouldn't tell the BBC his real name - has tried to create a trending topic. He's a student in Guatemala City, the capital of a nation of 15 million people known both for its natural beauty and problems with endemic violent crime. He says every hashtag he has created has a reason behind it. "Sometimes it is for love, others are for a joke and occasionally I try to make people talk about our culture," he tells BBC Trending. But last weekend he decided to create a broad brush protest about the state of the nation: #RescatemosAGuatemala (Rescue Guatemala). The hashtag caught fire, with over 5,000 tweets - a large number in a country where 54% of the population live in poverty, and the majority do not have access to the internet.

Why does he think Guatemala needs to be rescued? "Our country has collapsed with the amount of corruption," he says. The most recent scandal involves the arrest of the vice-president's lawyer, for allegedly trying to bribe a magistrate of the Supreme Court. He is frustrated about the lack of action in cases like this. "No one here seems to do anything about it," he says.

The plea to "rescue" Guatemala didn't seem to be directed at anyone outside the country. Rather, Guatemalans seemed to be spurring each other on to take action over longstanding problems. After the hashtag caught on, people used it to discuss more than just corruption. "Let's rescue Guatemala so we don't have to go abroad for a better future," said one. "#RescatemosAGuatemala from the indifference towards the poor," wrote another. Julio Arroyave tweeted that Guatemala needed to be rescued from its own politicians. "Our country is divided by an unequal distribution of wealth," he tells BBC Trending. "And politicians take advantage of ignorance and illiteracy to do what they want."

The conversation has now moved on with a new hashtag. #RescatemosAGuatemala has been replaced by #YaEsTiempoGuatemala (It's time Guatemala), which has been tweeted over 1,000 times in just 24 hours.

Reporting by Gabriela Torres

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The Palestinians' 'car uprising'

Site of knife attack in West Bank, 10 Nov Police stand guard after an attack by a Palestinian militant, prior to the social media campaign

Palestinians are being urged to run over Israelis with their cars, as a campaign gathers pace on social media.

It's a particularly tense moment between the Palestinians and Israel. On Tuesday, a Palestinian man was killed in clashes with the Israeli army in the occupied West Bank. On Monday, an Israeli soldier and an Israeli woman were killed in separate knife attacks in Tel Aviv and near a Jewish settlement in the West Bank. These are just the latest in a series of violent incidents over the past few weeks, after a disputed holy compound known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif, and Jews as the Temple Mount, was temporarily closed by Israeli police after violence.

Amid the tension, there have been two separate incidents of Palestinian militants ramming vehicles into pedestrians in Jerusalem, killing four people. Both attackers were shot dead.

On 6 November, the day after the second attack, a song by two young Palestinians, Anas al Garady and Abu Kayed, was uploaded to YouTube. The song, titled "Run-over settlers," starts with the following line: "They ran over a child two months ago, now we will have our revenge." The child they are referring to is five-year-old Enas Khalil who died after a Jewish settler hit two girls in his car in the West Bank in October. Israeli police said this incident was an accident.

The song on YouTube has now had almost 90,000 views. With it came a hashtag. On Twitter, the term #daais ("to run over" in Arabic) started popping on timelines and has had over 12,000 tweets since then. A page on Facebook supporting the campaign urged Palestinians to use their knives or cars as a form of resistance to Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Supporters of the campaign have been sharing illustrations depicting cars running over people near Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque. On Twitter, a smaller number of people have also started using the hashtag "third intifada" in Arabic about the campaign.

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90-year-old vows to feed homeless

Arnold Abbott's efforts to help the homeless have landed him in trouble with the law.

Arnold Abbott, a 90-year-old Florida man, has been called a hero for opposing new restrictions on feeding the homeless outdoors in Fort Lauderdale.

The new laws say that organisations wishing to feed the homeless must do so at designated feeding sites, or must provide portable restrooms and running water.

Abbott, who has fed the hungry at the beach on Wednesdays for eight years, refuses to comply.

This Wednesday he plans to set up his feeding station at the beach and could confront his third citation in two weeks.

Violators of the rule can face 60 days in jail or a $500 fine.

Thousands of people have expressed support for Abbott online.

The mayor of Fort Lauderdale, Jack Seiler, said his city does not think a piecemeal approach to helping the homeless is effective, and that the designated feeding centres have more resources to help those in need.

The BBC's Fernando Peinado talked to both Abbott and the mayor.


Rosetta comet sings loud and clear

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

The sound coming from comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko has caught the imagination of hundreds of thousands on social media.

"Maybe it's the sound of an alien shouting 'help me, I'm trapped inside a comet'," Alan Hayward commented on SoundCloud, the audio sharing network. This was where the European Space Agency posted the audio of the sound being captured by their Rosetta spacecraft, from which the probe to land on the comet is being deployed. "Is that you, Predator?" asked another user, Reactor Four. Another, Ronnie Wonders said: "This is wonderful. It would be arrogant to think we are alone in this universe. Not saying it's aliens but I'm really looking forward to finding out what is making this sound."

Rosetta singing

For their part, the scientists are just as surprised as social media users. "This is exciting because it is completely new to us. We did not expect this and we are still working to understand the physics of what is happening," Karl-Heinz Glaßmeier, head of Space Physics and Space Sensorics at the Technische Universität Braunschweig, Germany, explained on the RESA Rosetta blog. The "song" - as the scientists themselves refer to it- was in fact outside the normal range of human hearing range and has to be boosted in volume by a factor of 10,000. According to scientific theory, the comet releases neutral particles into space where they collide with high-energy particles and that's what makes the sound. However, "the precise physical mechanism behind the oscillations remains a mystery," according to the blog.

Tweet on Rosetta

"It reminds me of the music of [computer game] Manic Miner," another user, Bleakside, posted after listening to the 1:27-minute-long audio clip. "Some ET making popcorn on that planet," Dan Maxe commented. The audio clip has been played over 336,000 times on SoundCloud and been shared 13,000 times on Facebook

Audio courtesy of ESA/Rosetta/RPC/RPC-Mag

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Careful what you say about Obamacare

Obama Care

The man often called the "architect of Obamacare" citing a lack of transparency as to why the law was passed has become a YouTube hit. But why are his old remarks being shared now?

Professor Jonathan Gruber is an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and advised President Obama's administration over its Affordable Healthcare Act ("Obamacare"). So a recording of him remarking that "the stupidity of the American voter" was behind the act being passed was always going to attract attention. A clip of these remarks been watched almost 640,000 times on YouTube since being posted on 7 November.

But there's a twist: these comments were actually made over a year ago. Professor Gruber took part in a panel discussion on 17 October 2013 hosted by the University of Pennsylvania's Leonard Davis Institute.

Here is what he said: "If you had a law which said that healthy people are going to pay in—you made explicit that healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed, okay," said Gruber. "Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical for the thing to pass."

Fast forward more than a year and a clip of the offending remark is being watched hundreds of thousands of times on YouTube. It was uploaded by the right-wing group American Commitment, which supports "limited government and individual freedom", campaigns on a number of issues including health care reform and says it is committed to repealing the health care law.

Critics of the law and the President have posted hundreds of comments online.

"This is what we are up against folks" wrote one YouTube user.

Another said: "At least he was honest."

Four days after the video was posted, Prof Gruber appeared on US television to express his regret. He said he was "speaking off the cuff" and "spoke inappropriately".

But why did these remarks become an issue now? Obamacare is being discussed in the US Supreme Court as part of an ongoing case over health care subsidies. Earlier this year Prof Gruber was also part of a controversy when recordings from 2012 surfaced in which he appeared to contradict the Obama administration's position on subsidies. He clarified his remarks as "just a speak-o - you know, like a typo."

This became the subject of a YouTube video under the hashtag #GruberGate, which is also being used this week.

But in the end it comes down to the timing of when the anti-Obamacare lobby clipped and uploaded the video. "We pass on shameful clips from Obamacare's chief architect whenever they come to our attention," Phil Kerpen, President of American Commitment, told BBC Trending.

"Unlike Prof Gruber we believe in transparency and think the American voter is quite intelligent."

Prof Gruber himself would not have seen the social media controversy about him, because as he told WGBH radio in Boston, he is not on Twitter.

"I have certainly learned my lesson," he said. "I don't have Twitter, but I have learned that not only can I not tweet, I cannot speak."

Reporting by Anne-Marie Tomchak

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How the 'kiss of love' spread across India

Two people kissing

A public kissing event which began as a protest in Kerala, south India, is catching on around the country

Is public kissing morally acceptable in India? Earlier this month, BBC Trending reported on a Facebook group who organised a mass kissing event, dubbed the "kiss of love". They were protesting against an act of moral policing by a political party after a TV report showed couples kissing at a cafe. Members of the youth wing of India's ruling BJP party vandalised the cafe, saying that what went on there violated Indian morals. Several people were temporarily detained at the event, prompting a further outcry online.

Now the kissing movement is spreading across India - and with it, the opposition against public kissing. Last week, university students in Calcutta, Hyderabad and Delhi organised "Kiss of Love" protests in a show of solidarity. In Hyderabad and Delhi, the demonstrations were opposed by supporters of the Hindu right-wing ABVP and RSS groups respectively.

While local reports say the turnout at the events was low in terms of actual attendees, it's growing apace on social media. The initial campaign has now received more than 121,399 "likes" on Facebook. On 7 December, they plan to organise another kissing protest in Kerala, where it all began.

Two people kissing

Reporting by Samiha Nettikkara

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46 catcalling video copycats

Mumbai, Lima, Auckland - there are now versions of the "10 hours walking" anti-sexual harassment video from all over the world.

Two weeks ago, "10 hours of walking in NYC as a woman" was posted on YouTube. The campaigning video showed the sexual harassment faced on New York City streets and has now been viewed over 35 million times. But it also inspired copycats, tributes and parodies from all over the world.

#BBCtrending looks at some of the videos that have caught our eye.

Video journalist: Neil Meads

Here are links to some of the tributes and parodies featured in our video:

10 hours of walking in NYC as a woman in Hijab

10 hours of walking as a woman in Rome

2 hours of walking as a woman in Colombia

10 hours of walking in Mumbai as a woman

7 hours of walking in Pune as a woman

Catcall experiment in Auckland

3 hours of harassment In Toronto as a tiny man

3 hours of "harassment' In NYC (as a male model)

PARODIES

10 hours walking in NYC as a Woman (Parody) - She Ain't Playin'

10 hours of Princess Leia Walking in NYC

10 hours of walking in Austin as a Hipster

5 hours of walking in NYC as a Jets Fan

10 minutes of walking in Almada City (Portugal) as a man

10 hours of walking in Bangalore as a techie

10 hours of walking as a horse

10 hours of walking in NYC as a Jew

Want more? You can watch all our videos on BBC Trending's YouTube channel.

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Breaking the silence on Twitter

The Houses of Parliament

Was it ever realistic to expect social media to fall silent for two minutes on Armistice Day? On Twitter people have begun criticising those who broke the silence - including the UK Parliament's Twitter account.

Across the UK, two minutes of silence were observed at 11:00 GMT, in remembrance of the men and women who have died in conflicts, on the anniversary of the cessation of hostilities after World War One. Many observed the moment on social media too, with the noisy world of Twitter and other platforms falling silent. But at 11:02 across the UK, a somewhat less savoury activity began on social media: people began calling out others who broke the silence on Twitter.

Of course, many of those who tweeted during the period may have done so inadvertently, with tweets scheduled ahead of time. But the UK Parliament was the most unlikely account to post as others kept quiet. It tweeted out a reminder about a Home Affairs Committee at 11:01, to the annoyance of many on Twitter. "Disgusting," said one, and "you could have waited!" wrote another. Actor Warwick Davies also fell foul of the informal rule, prompting a stream of disappointed responses. Middlesbrough Council tweeted about an "alley makeover workshop" and Heat magazine mentioned Benedict Cumberbatch's engagement.

Mark Burkin was one of those who replied to the parliament's tweet, and says he was "upset" by the gaffe. But in an age of seemingly endless and frenetic interaction on social media, is a blanket silence really something we can hope for, especially on Twitter? Burkin thinks there are still limits. "I don't expect everybody to do it, but this is parliament," he says.

BBC Trending contacted the House of Commons Media Service to ask for their response. A spokesperson tells us the tweet had indeed been scheduled in advance, and was published by an automated system. "We regret that, due to an oversight, this tweet coincided with the moment's silence," they say, and have also tweeted the apology.

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Why George Orwell is trending in Egypt

George Orwell Orwell pictured in 1943

The British author's name is a byword for the struggle against totalitarianism. Now an arrest in Egypt has led activists to embrace George Orwell as a social media trend.

It has been over six decades since Eric Blair, better known by his pen name George Orwell, published 1984, his acclaimed novel about life under the totalitarian rule of the ever watchful 'Big Brother'. The book even led to a new adjective, 'Orwellian,' to describe life under oppressive state power. So when a newspaper in Egypt reported that the police had arrested a student for carrying the book, it was immediately seized upon by activists. The author's name is now trending on Twitter in Egypt.

The initial report in the Al Masry al Youm newspaper on Sunday claimed that a student at Cairo University was arrested "for carrying" the book. The student was also carrying material supportive of Islamic State, according to the report.

But it was Orwell's book that people on social media picked up on. The 6th of April youth movement, a group that opposes the government and has been active since before Egypt's revolution in 2011, posted the news report on their Facebook page. They added a link to an Arabic version of the book calling on their followers to read it. Their post has had over 5,000 likes.

The trend has spread beyond Egypt: George Orwell's "official" page on Facebook posted a link to the article in English. The post had around 10,000 "likes" and many Egyptians commented underneath on how embarrassing this news was for them.

There's a similar conversation on Twitter. On both platforms Egyptians drew sometimes comic parallels between Big Brother and their government. Egypt's President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi initially came to power after ousting the Muslim Brotherhood government that was elected following the 2011 revolution.

Others commented that it was ironic that the arrest made Orwell and his book more popular than it ever was in Egypt. Well known journalist and Egyptian author, Hani Shukrallah, tweeted "#Orwell's_1984 never more popular in #Egypt, shared left & right on FB, thanks to police arrest of student in possession of the novel"

But was the arrest really connected to the novel? In fact many doubt the credibility of the initial report. Independent news website Mada Masr quoted the Head of the Investigations Unit at the Giza Security Directorate, General Mahmoud Farouk saying that the novel was nothing to do with the arrest. "None of us knew anything about this novel in the first place," he is reported to have said. The charges against the student remain unclear.

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The BBC Trending podcast

Brazil murder scene

Listen to or download the latest BBC Trending podcast, to hear what it sounds like when a BBC presenter eats a red chilli while reporting on air.

Brazil

Recently a police officer was shot dead in the city of Belem. Within a few hours, messages supposedly from other police officers were being shared on Facebook and Twitter warning people to stay inside in certain neighbourhoods. There was also an audio message being shared on Whatsapp saying that 'police officers' would 'clean' the area. Later that night, nine people were murdered. We look at the use of chatapps to spread messages to closed networks.

India

There are many countries around the world which will be familiar with a north south divide - where people in the north of country form stereotypes of the south, and vice versa. Well a group of comedians from the southern five states of India have struck a chord with their latest YouTube video, trying to knock down the stereotypes of the region. We speak to the creators about why they decided to write a song about

Denmark

Chilli Klaus, a famous comedian in Denmark, has been making videos of himself eating chillies. For his latest video, he wanted to raise the profile of the Danish National Chamber Orchestra, which is facing closure. He challenged them to performing a piece, after eating a chilli. We thought someone on the Trending team should take that challenge. Listen to the programme to find out how India Rakusen fares.

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 and produced by Charlotte McDonald, Mai Noman and India Rakusen.

Killing spree in Brazil, and 'we are not Madrasi'


A song for southern India

A comedy group from southern India has compiled a musical guide - set to Billy Joel's We Didn't Start The Fire - to their sometimes overlooked part of the country.

It pokes fun at their northern counterparts, who they say are sometimes ignorant of the diversity of culture down south. It's become a YouTube hit, with more than 1 million views in just four days.

Video Journalist Greg Brosnan

Original video courtesy of Culture Machine and Stray Factory

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Murders follow a WhatsApp curfew

A Brazilian policeman

After a policeman was shot in Brazil, a mysterious message began circulating on the WhatsApp chat app telling people to stay indoors. That night, ten people were killed.

On Tuesday evening a police officer, Antonio Marcos da Silva Figueiredo was shot dead in Belem, northern Brazil. News of his death began circulating on WhatsApp, an instant messaging app.

Within a few hours, residents of the city began receiving more unusual messages, forwarded on from family and friends. All contained the same information. Some were in text form, but one of the most popular messages was an audio clip. "Don't go to Guama, Canudos or Terra Firme tonight. It concerns your security," it said. "One of our policemen was killed and we will be cleaning the area."

Was the warning from the police force, then? Not exactly. "There's no stopping any of us, not even the highest colonel. The boys are on the loose," the message continued, before concluding with a final warning: "Please stay at home. Don't go hanging out on street corners." It wasn't an official public service announcement, but apparently sent by renegade officers, seeking revenge for their fallen comrade.

Joao Batista talks to Camilla Costa about the Whatsapp message

The clip frightened Joao Batista, a 19-year-old resident of the city, who received the message. "This is the first time I remember seeing something like this spread right around the city and causing such fear," he tells BBC Trending. It has been impossible to trace the origin of the message. Batista received it from friends, who in turn say they received it from friends, and so on.

That evening, ten people were shot dead. Witnesses say the killers rode motorbikes on a six-hour killing spree. People in the areas affected shared photos of what appear to be dead bodies left in the streets of Belem. Were the murders carried out by off-duty policemen, then? "We don't know for sure, but It looks like that," says Camilla Costa, a BBC journalist based in Sao Paulo. This wouldn't be the first time it had happened. Earlier this year a policeman was shot in Campinas, another Brazilian city, leading to a revenge attack by police officers who allegedly killed 12 people, says Costa.

In this case, it might have been police officers using WhatsApp as a way of warning people to keep off the streets. But the tactic is more usually employed by criminal gangs in the area. Police all over Brazil have been investigating criminal gangs using WhatsApp to impose curfews during expected confrontations with other gangs, or the police, or even to negotiate the price of drugs.

For now, in Belem, tensions remain high, according to Batista. He says new messages are now circulating on WhatsApp suggesting the cycle of violence between criminals and policemen will continue, especially in poorer neighbourhoods. In the immediate aftermath his university classes were suspended, he says, and "some people are even staying indoors".

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Victoria's Secret changes course on 'Perfect Body' ads

#IAmPerfect tweet

#IAmPerfect was the response to an ad campaign titled The Perfect Body featuring a line-up of Victoria's Secret models.

Three British students took issue with the campaign, resulting in the online advert being retracted, but not an apology from the lingerie giant. The ad, for a bra called Body, perpetuated low self-esteem among women who did not fit into a narrow standard of beauty, argued Leeds students Frances Black, Gabriella Kountourides and Laura Ferris. Using a Change.org petition, the women said Victoria's Secret should take responsibility for the message it sent to women, rather than promoting "unhealthy and unrealistic standards of beauty".

According to the campaigners, the advert failed "to celebrate the amazing diversity of women's bodies by choosing to call only one body type 'perfect'." They asked for the ad's message to be changed, and for an apology from the company. As of Friday afternoon, the petition had attracted more than 29,000 signatures. US underwear company Dear Kate responded in turn, posting their own version of The Perfect Body, showcasing a variety of body types.

Response to Victoria's Secret Perfect Body advert

Victoria Secret should have realized at least a segment of their consumer base would be offended by the ad campaign, says Jerry Wind, Wharton School Lauder Professor and Professor of Marketing. "There's a general consensus that you should be respectful of your customers. To the extent that the audience reacted negatively shows a lack of respect to its clients." It's best, says Wind, to study reaction with a target audience, before release. However, "the fact that they responded is good - it shows they're listening to the customers".

For their part, consumers armed with social media hold a different power than in the days of writing a letter to headquarters. "Those who were concerned did the right thing," said Wind. "They got on the social networks with the assumption the company is listening to this and react and that's exactly what happened." While Victoria Secret did change the online ad, the in-store ads are unaltered from the original. Victoria's Secret did not respond to the BBC for comment.

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Reported by Micah Luxen

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Politics or Disneyland?

What should 11-year-olds enjoy? Computer games? Theme parks? What about election campaigns? An Argentinian boy has sparked a debate on social media, after speaking fluently about politics on live television.

"By 2050 I want to run for presidency," said Casey Wander, 11, at an event commemorating the deceased president Nestor Kirchner.

Wander's confidence took the journalist interviewing him by surprise. Soon dozens of versions of the video were uploaded to YouTube, and comments began flooding in. "I can't believe it. To the kid's parents: bring back his childhood," read one. Even Argentine president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner tweeted about the interview, saying she wanted to meet the boy.

Wander said he "adored" Nestor Kirchner for everything he'd done for Argentina. He praised the former president's work on assisted reproductive technology. "I don't agree that to become a parent you have to pay 10,000 pesos ($1,200; £750). A middle-class couple can't pay that amount." His interest in politics arose when he was seven, he explained, and by eight, after hearing the campaign debates of the 2011 presidential election, he was hooked.

Soon well-known opposition journalist, Jorge Lanata, waded into the debate. "This is an example of years of propaganda and brainwashing we've all been subjected to, even young people," he said on his television programme. He also offered Wander some advice: "Go to Disneyland, you are just an 11 year-old with a PlayStation."

Lanata's remarks prompted Wander's mother, Nydia Lirola, to come to her son's defence on Facebook. "The boy is fine, he goes to school everyday. On Friday he went to the theatre, and yesterday he went to a birthday party. He leads a normal life," she wrote.

According to the current rules, Wander will have to wait until he's 30 before running for president in Argentina, so has plenty of time to draw up his manifesto.

Reporting by Gabriela Torres

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'Pick-up artist' kicked out of Australia

Julien Blanc A promotional image from Blanc's Twitter account

A petition to curb the Australian tour of a "pick-up artist", and other events held by his firm, has achieved its goal. Now his visa has been cancelled by the government, and he has been forced to leave the country.

Julien Blanc is a prominent figure in the increasingly less mysterious world of "pick-up artists". He shares his techniques to attract women with anyone willing to pay. "Make Girls BEG To Sleep With You," his website promises, like many other "experts" just like him - all of whom have mastered the art of "gaming" women. At the end of last month Blanc began a tour of Australia, while his colleagues at a firm called Real Social Dynamics continued hosting events in the US.

In an attempt to have several events cancelled, activist Jennifer Li created a Change.org petition calling three hotels not to host the company's seminars. Along with the petition, she posted a video of Blanc in action at previous events, boasting of his prowess with Japanese women. "In Tokyo, if you're a white male, you can do what you want," he is seen telling an audience. He talks about "romping through the streets," and "grabbing" women. Later the video shows him doing exactly that. Li's petition asks the hotels not to associate themselves with Blanc, and her campaign has yielded results.

As the number of signatures grew, the hotels began cancelling the events. "Following an objective review, we are in the process of advising Real Social Dynamics of our decision not to proceed as their event venue," the Como hotel in Melbourne posted on Monday. The Hilton in Austin, Texas, and the Courtyard in Seattle, Washington, followed suit the next day. The petition has now soared past 27,000 signatures, and a Twitter hashtag - #TakeDownJulienBlanc - has been used more than 40,000 times in the last few days.

Although the campaign achieved its original goal on Tuesday, the trend is accelerating, not slowing down. More than half of the tweets using the hashtag have come in the past 24 hours. Speaking to BBC Trending, Li says she now has a more ambitious aim. "We're taking it one step at a time, but the goal is to shut them down entirely." By posting new dates and locations to her Twitter feed, she is encouraging people to pressure other venues to cancel the firm's future events. "I don't want them to have the space where they can teach men to harass other women," she says. Some accounts even appear to be posting Blanc's phone number, asking others to call and text him, expressing their distaste.

Now the campaign has led to Blanc being forced to leave Australia. Immigration minister Scott Morrison said Blanc's visa was cancelled on Thursday night. "This guy wasn't putting forward political ideas, he was putting forward abuse that was derogatory to women," he told Sky News Australia. On Friday police in Victoria tweeted that Blanc was no longer in the country. "We can confirm that Julien Blanc left Australia overnight. His assistant is also due to leave shortly."

We have contacted Blanc and Real Social Dynamics for comment, but not yet heard back.

Reporting by Sam Judah

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Storm over comedian's slave fantasy

Artie Lange

A slavery-themed sexual fantasy tweeted by a well-known comic resulted in him being pulled from the airwaves after after a social media backlash.

In a series of tweets, Artie Lange - best known for his appearances on the Howard Stern Show - imagined himself as Thomas Jefferson and ESPN sports journalist Cari Champion, who is black, as his slave.

Very quickly a wave of protest was ignited, with outraged tweeters using the #isupportcari hashtag to argue his remarks were racist and misogynist.

Many listed venues in which Lange was scheduled to perform, urging that he be dropped.

Champion has not yet commented publicly on Lange's tweets. But her friend and fellow ESPN journalist Jemele Hill tweeted that Lange's remarks were "inappropriate and disgusting" and "Exhibit A in online harassment".

By making slavery the focus of his fantasy he was also "joking about rape". In a statement, ESPN described Lange's comments as "reprehensible" and said no one should be subjected to "such hateful language". It added that the tweets "objectify and demean one of our valued employees under the thin guise of 'comedy' and are offensive to all of us".

Cari Champion Cari Champion has not spoken out publicly about the row

Following the backlash, Lange said he would not apologise to the "awful PC groups ruining the country" whom he blamed for the protests. But if Champion had been upset by his remarks "that's another story".

He added: "Let me say to @CariChampion if this hurt u in any way I'm sorry".

But it was not enough to prevent the late-night comedy show @Midnight cancelling a forthcoming appearance. TMZ also reported that ESPN had banned Lange from ever appearing on the network.

There was some backing for the comedian, with supporters tweeting that his comments had been a joke and that he was the victim of political correctness. Later, however, Lange tweeted that he had spoken to a black woman who told her that her life had been threatened by some of his fans.

As a result, he said, he realised that "I have to take jokes like the ones I made more seriously".

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Reporting by Jon Kelly

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Yemeni PM turns to Facebook for help

Khaled Bahah

The Yemeni prime minister has asked people on Facebook to nominate ministers for his new cabinet. The idea has received a mixed reception.

His page published a post on 1 November asking its 33,000 followers to suggest names for the new national unity government. In the last few days it has garnered more than 13,000 comments, and prompted a debate about using social media to help form a new government.

Thousands of names have been suggested, and many lauded the move. One comment read: "I believe you are the first PM in the world to ask people's opinion when forming a technocratic government and this will enforce their trust in you because you included them in making the decision-making process." Prominent Yemeni activist, Farea Al Muslimi, who is usually critical of the government, supports the idea. "Yemeni politicians and policy makers are usually hiding behind walls and only show up when they are in crisis and not when they are planning and need ideas" he tells BBC Trending.

Some saw humour in the post. One user suggested having a "Yemeni Idol" to pick the ministers by popular vote, and another asked jokingly: "Can you import a ready-formed government from China?"

But others thought the plan was absurd. One wrote: "It seems you're already lost. As a Prime Minister you should have a vision of what you are trying to achieve… we want a government that will take responsibility." Another said Bahah was running away from his responsibility, and wondered how representative the survey was given that there are less than 800,000 Yemenis on Facebook, from a population of 24 million.

This will be the first government to take office after the recent political crisis in Yemen, following the decision to lift fuel subsidies in August. The crisis had sparked armed confrontations inside the capital and led to the resignation of Prime Minister Mohamed Basindowa.

Reporting by Mai Noman

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School science experiment backfires

A school science-class experiment in Egypt has taken a surprise turn.

A video of the results shot on a pupil's phone has gone viral, sparking a debate on the state of education in the country.

Reporter: Mai Noman

Video journalist: Greg Brosnan

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Should a left-wing president go to a private hospital?

Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner

Here is a dilemma: if a head of state gets sick, should he or she go to a public or a private hospital? Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner chose the latter. In a country where nearly half of the population uses private care, Fernandez's decision might not seem that surprising.

The news of her checking into a private clinic in Buenos Aires raised more than a few eyebrows on social media. Despite repeatedly praising the Argentine public health system, the left-wing leader ended up at Sanatorio Otamendi hospital. And not for the first time.

Tweets like "once again she chooses a clinic and not one of her hospitals" or "Cristina Kirchner hospitalised, on which public hospital?" were retweeted several times over the past few days. However, a picture shared over 1,300 times with the message "The difference between private centre Otamendi and a public hospital" sparked the debate. The image showed one of Otamendi's luxury rooms, looking like a five star hotel, next to one showing a bed in the Eva Peron hospital, which recently closed.

Post by Carl Bonifatti

Carl Boniffatti (@carlbonifatti), who posted the tweet, told me he had both experiences - public and private care. "Otamendi is a real luxury" while his time at a public one wasn't that pleasant. "Touching the walls was disgusting" he said.

Some recalled how two years ago Fernandez stated during a speech: "I'm only saying that there is a public health system when the president goes to a public hospital." And others remembered, during the US government shutdown last year, when she said "we may not be a developed country, but we understand that public health is a State issue."

This is not the first time that Fernandez de Kirchner has been to a private clinic. The 61 year-old president was treated early this year for a hip pain and sciatica and in July for an acute throat infection. Last year she had undergone surgery to treat bleeding on her brain and is most recently suffering from an inflammation of the sigmoid colon. According to local papers, on all of these occasions she stayed at private centres.

BBC Trending requested comment from the Argentine presidential office and Ministry of Health without success.

Ignacio de los Reyes, our man in Buenos Aires, told BBC Trending that over the past few years the health sector has been the priority for Cristina Fernandez's office, but that many of her critics argue that the government has spent the money in an inefficient way. The delay over the years on the building of seven hospitals hasn't helped either.

Reporting by Gabriela Torres

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Samuel Meyiwa and the funeral pose

Three people leaning out of a truck with their arms outstretched

An unusual meme has emerged in which people are replicating a picture of Senzo Meyiwa's father, taken at the footballer's funeral.

Tens of thousands of people attended the funeral of the South African football captain on Saturday. Meyiwa was shot and killed, apparently after burglars entered his girlfriend's house near Johannesburg. This image of his father - Samuel Meyiwa - greeting the crowd by leaning out of his car window, arms outstretched, was shared widely using the hashtag #SenzosDad.

Samuel Meyiwa leaning out of a car with his arms outstretched

Now another hashtag, #NotSenzosDad, has emerged. People are using it to post photographs of themselves in similar poses. It's been used more than 24,000 times in the last 72 hours. On Instagram, there have been nearly 3,000 posts tagged using the hashtag.

Here are some of the images:

A Twitter picture of notsenzosdad
Three men leaning out of a car with their arms outstretched
A woman with her arms outstretched
Twitter picture of #notsenzosdad meme
Instagram meme of notsenzosdad
Twitter picture of #notsenzosdad meme
A man with his arms outstretched

There has been criticism of the trend, but the photographer who snapped Meyiwa's father in the original pose has said that "hopefully, the fact that people find humour in a situation that has profoundly affected the psyche of the nation, will be cathartic".

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The Colombian who teaches Colombian

Martina La Peligrosa 'The dangerous one' takes slang from the Colombian Caribbean coast to a new level.

Ever spoken to someone who speaks the same language as you, and not understood what they were talking about?

Colombia is a Spanish-speaking country. But when a someone from the capital Bogota meets a "Costeño" from the 1,600-kilometre-long Caribbean coast, they often seem to be speaking a different language. People from the coast use strange expressions ("poke the donkey or I'll leave" = "Hurry up") and sprinkle their speech with onomatopoeic words that have no real meaning. The way they speak is so different from the rest of Colombia that on Wikipedia there is even a separate entry for their unofficial dialect. They say "open up" ("abrete") when they want to leave a gathering; they refer to a "camel" ("camello") when talking about having a job.

Enter Martina La Peligrosa ('the dangerous one'). She is using Instagram to "teach" her 230,000 followers expressions from her region. And her linguistic fight back is already causing a wave. Her series of 15-second videos called "Clases de Cordobés" ('Lessons of a Cordoban) has been widely shared across Latin America. Each one is a lesson about what an individual word or phrase means. "I started this video blog because I'm fascinated by my own accent," La Peligrosa herself tells BBC Trending.

Lessons of a Cordoban: expressions used on Colombia's Caribbean coast

  • Puya el burro que si no me voy - "Poke the donkey or I'll leave". Used to mean "hurry up".
  • Tate con la pendeja' que te voy a da' una trompa - "Stop your nonsense or I'll smack you".
  • ¡Nojoda! - expression of admiration or disbelief

Her first post on Instagram about a year ago was a sequence of meaningless slang expressions from the Caribbean coast, delivered with a very strong accent. She did it for the fun of it and for a very specific audience: fellow residents of the Colombian region of Cordoba. But people from around the country messaged her and asked her to post more videos. "I was really surprised by its success, because I thought it would be something too local," she says. She is now up to lesson number 33 and is discovering that other countries have the same slang expressions as Colombia's Caribbean coast. "I've always thought only we spoke that way, but I keep receiving comments from people in Puerto Rico or Venezuela telling me that they talk like us," she says. Eleyda Rodriguez, a Colombian philosopher and editor of the Maestros del web blog, believes Llorente's videos have three key ingredients of success on social media: "She is funny, talented and attractive," says Rodriguez.

Slang words from Colombian Caribbean coast:

  • "Sabrosita" - Itching all over the body (to other Spanish-speakjs 'sabrosita' normally means somenthing that is tasty)
  • "Polocho" - Police officer
  • "Morisqueta" - Funny face
  • "Gandío" - excessively greedy with food

The Costeños live a laid-back lifestyle that people in the rest of the country like to stereotype, often referring to them with a mix of jealousy and derision. However, Rodriguez explains that the videos also challenge the stereotypes of the Caribbean coast, and in that sense they have something in common with the work of one of the region's most important cultural figures. "When I saw the video I thought of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and how he portrayed the culture of the Colombian coast," says Rodriguez. "It doesn't surprise me that that this microblog is so successful. You look at it and you recognise them (the Costeños) right away".

Reporting by Gabriela Torres

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Row over the Samaritans' Twitter app

The Samaritans Radar app

The Samaritans Radar app - created to tell you which of your Twitter followers might be feeling low - has prompted a wave of derision online. Now a petition is calling on Twitter to stop communicating with the service, effectively shutting it down.

The idea is certainly a noble one. Once activated, the app tracks tweets from people you follow on Twitter, and emails you if any of them sound distressed. If one of them writes "help me", "hate myself", or any other phrase the organisation deems troublesome, you'll receive an email from the Samaritans nudging you to take a closer look. The tweets are already public, and you might have spotted them anyway, so the service simply highlights things you might've missed. Right?

Not so, according to its critics, who have been tweeting and blogging about the service since its launch last week. The app is fraught with problems, they say. It raises major privacy concerns, and is all but tailor made for trolls. Stalkers and online bullies now have a tool that tells them exactly when their targets are at a low ebb, detractors suggest. Users aren't notified when someone begins using the app to monitor their tweets.

The hashtag #SamaritansRadar has appeared more than 11,000 times since the app was launched. While some used it to tweet support - "sometimes the only way people reach out is through cryptic statuses" - the overwhelming response has been negative. "How dare you interfere in the complicated emotional lives of others without so much as a by-your-leave? This is appalling," said one. The Samaritans have responded to some of the criticism by allowing anyone on Twitter to opt out of the service by adding their details to a special list. It hasn't been enough to curb the complaints, however, and many are suggesting that the organisation isn't listening.

Now an information policy activist, Adrian Short, is asking Twitter to take action itself. On Sunday he created a Change.org petition calling on the firm to block the app from accessing its data. Samaritans Radar can only function with access to Twitter's API, and if the firm denies access to the data, the app would cease to function. "I no longer feel safe talking about my feelings and experiences on Twitter because of this app," wrote one of the signatories - a sentiment expressed by several others.

Short says the Samaritans' offer for users to opt out doesn't go far enough. "The vast majority of people who are being monitored by the system are not aware of it," he tells BBC Trending. And as the system has been designed, opting out means passing your details to the Samaritans, something many will not be comfortable with, he says.

Salimah Lalji, who works for the Samaritans, says that while the charity is aware of the petition, and is "trying to listen and take on any feedback," there has also been a positive response to the app. More than 3,000 people have activated Samaritans Radar, and it is now tracking over 1.64 million Twitter accounts.

We asked Twitter for their reaction to the petition, but have not received a response.

Reporting by Sam Judah

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NFL protest moves beyond Twitter

We are not your mascot, say the protesters to the Redskins' owner

The hashtag #ChangeTheName has been a popular way for Twitter users to express their displeasure with the American football team, the Washington Redskins.

This weekend the protest went offline and into the streets.

More than 3,000 people demonstrated in Minneapolis on Sunday outside the team's game against the Minnesota Vikings.

It was billed by organisers as the largest rally to date against a name and a mascot that is offensive to many Native Americans.

The team's owner Daniel Snyder has vowed not to change the name or logo, saying that it honours Native Americans and their culture. He has sued five Native American activists who seek to have the team's trademark revoked.

Tweets, photos and status updates featuring #NotYourMascot, #NoHonorInRacism and #ChangeTheName were posted more than 24,000 times on Sunday.

The BBC's Franz Strasser talked to protesters at the rally in Minneapolis.

No Redskins fans approached at the game wanted to be interviewed on camera.


Campaigning with a bang

Iowa's Joni Ernst sets her sights on the president's healthcare law

This election season candidates have been spending millions of dollars on television advertising to try to win or hold onto seats in the US Congress.

Guns have been a recurring prop in many of the most successful adverts, as candidates look to bolster their perceived toughness or express their displeasure with a political proposition by opening fire on it.

BBC Trending's Anthony Zurcher looks at how firearms are being employed in some of this year's most popular campaign commercials, which have received hundreds of thousands of views on social media.

Video journalist: Bill McKenna

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White men absent in harassment video

Shoshana Roberts talked to the BBC about her experiment

The two-minute video of a woman being sexually harassed as she walked the streets of New York has become an internet sensation, garnering more than 31 million hits on YouTube in just five days. It has also sparked an online debate over what the video does - and doesn't - show.

Marianne Mollmann of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, says that the unspoken component is race and culture.

"Though the editorialising comments note that the actress was harassed by men of all ethnic or racial backgrounds, most of the men shown on the final video are black, some Latino and no one - as far as I can tell - white," she writes for the Huffington Post. "Intentional or not, the racial bias strips the video not only of authenticity and therefore authority, but also of effectiveness."

According to the video's producer, Rob Bliss, the lack of white male representation was, in part, a technical issue.

"We got a fair amount of white guys, but for whatever reason, a lot of what they said was in passing, or off camera," he wrote in a Reddit thread. "We didn't always capture the audio or video well."

Chris Moore, writing for the website Mass Appeal, documents just how skewed the end result is. He finds that 59% of footage comes from Harlem, a minority-heavy neighbourhood, while only 12% comes from more affluent areas like Greenwich Village and Canal Street.

After watching the video author Joyce Carol Oates concludes that the level of street harassment in New York depends on the neighbourhood.

AUthor Joyce Carol Oates tweets about street harassment in New York

"Would be very surprised if women walking alone were harassed in affluent midtown NYC," she tweets.

Her comments prompted scores of responses on Twitter with examples of nice-neighbourhood harassment.

Lindy West, writing for the Daily Dot, accuses Ms Oates of racism - but says her reaction is the predictable result of the way the harassment video is constructed.

"By placing such manipulative, specific, politicised constraints on the issue of street harassment - that is, the subject is a 'nice' white or white-passing lady wearing the 'right' clothes, and the catcallers depicted as almost exclusively men of colour - it allows the bulk of the audience to divorce themselves from the problem," she writes.

University of North Carolina sociology Prof Zeynep Tufekci tells BBC Trending that because of the methodological flaws in the video, it's impossible to draw any concrete conclusions about race and harassment. If students had presented this research to her, she would have told them to gather more data.

There are a number of conclusions that can be drawn from the video, she says, but the explanation provided by Mr Bliss - that most remarks were off-camera or disrupted by sounds - is "indefensible, methodologically or substantively".

A tweet alleges racism in the viral harassment video.

On Thursday Hollaback, the anti-harassment organisation that partnered with Mr Bliss to produce the video, issued an apology for "unintended racial bias in the editing of the video".

"It is our hope and intention that this video will be the start of a series to demonstrate that the type of harassment we're concerned about is directed toward women of all races and ethnicities and conducted by an equally diverse population of men," they write.

According to Slate's Dee Lockett, that may be difficult, however, as the kind of harassment that white men undertake doesn't come in the form of catcalling on the streets.

"They do it in bars, at parties, on the frat row at your local college campus, in boardrooms, and other places men of colour are never privy to, at least not in positions of power," she writes.

Reporting by Anthony Zurcher

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India's 'Kiss Protest' prompts controversy

Kiss protest photo

A number of Indians who staged a public kissing event - in defiance of local authorities - were detained by police, triggering outrage online.

Last week BBC Trending reported on plans to host a "Kiss of Love" event in Kerala, southern India. It began when a local TV report showed young couples kissing each other at a cafe. Members of the BJP youth group, a wing of India's ruling political party, thought such public displays of affection breached the country's obscenity laws, and vandalised the cafe. Many were appalled by the violent reaction, and took to social media to organise a mass public kissing event, scheduled for Sunday.

Thousands attended on the day - either to take part or simply watch - and several people were detained, prompting a further outcry on the internet. They were later released, but cases have been filed against 15 people for unlawful assembly, according to local reports.

A photograph of the organisers - Rahul Pasupalan and Resmi Nair - kissing as they were taken away in a police van has been shared widely on Facebook, and some have dubbed it "the kiss that defeated the fascists". One comment criticised the behaviour of the police: "Their logic is to evacuate peaceful protesters from the site to avoid any chance of ruckus in Marine Drive. Following this logic, one day they may also starts to arrest women to avoid any chance of rape."

A Facebook page created by the event organisers was inaccessible for more than five hours today. They claim it was taken down after multiple users clicked the "report abuse" link on the page - a well known tactic to have a Facebook page suspended temporarily. In a statement to BBC Trending, Facebook confirmed that the page has now been restored.

Online support for the page continues, with the number of "likes" doubling over the weekend to more than 75,000. Some of those commenting do not support the campaign, however. They posted comedy memes suggesting that more spectators than supporters turned up, and rival groups have also now emerged.

The BBC Trending report on the build up to the 'Kiss of Love' event

Reporting by Samiha Nettikkara

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The BBC Trending podcast

Clown masks displayed at a costume store

Listen to or download the latest Trending podcast

Why are youths dressed as clowns terrorizing people in France? We look at the growing interest in prank videos involving clowns, and how this has transferred onto the streets of France. We also examine the subsequent trend of online groups calling for the clowns to go away. The number of people who have been apprehended by police are small, but the chatter online is substantial.

Also, in the fight against Islamic State, why has the 'Angel of Kobane' gone global? We unravel the myths behind a striking image of a female Kurdish fighter in the northern Syrian town of Kobane, who apparently killed over 100 men from Islamic state. Her picture has been shared thousands of times around the world.

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.

Latest from BBC Trending radio


Who is the 'Angel of Kobane'?

Woman photographed in Kobane become internet legend.

Thousands around the world on social media have shared the image of the "Angel of Kobane" or "Rehana", a Kurdish fighter who has become a symbol of resistance against Islamic State. According to the stories, she's slain as many as 100 Islamic State fighters. Only one hitch: she's probably not who people think she is.

The world is still watching the town of Kobane in northern Syria. Kurdish fighters there, backed by air strikes from an international coalition, are battling with Islamic State. But it's hard to get images from inside Kobane, with access for journalists limited. Against this backdrop, stories are being shared on social media networks of fighters who become internet legends. And none more so than "Rehana" whose image has come to symbolise the female fighters pitted against the Islamic State, whose respects for women's rights are seen as severely limited. Thousands have shared this picture on Twitter and Facebook, with stories of her bravery and the idea that she has killed large numbers of IS fighters.

But where does the image actually come from? In fact the woman now known as "Rehana" was photographed at an event in Kobane on 22 August - months before her image began trending. She was at a ceremony for volunteers and was wearing a military style uniform. The Swedish journalist Carl Drott was the only international journalist in Kobane at the time and had a short exchange with her before the ceremony. He says she was not a front line fighter at all, volunteering instead with the home guard or police force of Kobane. He says its therefore unlikely she has killed huge numbers of the enemy. "She came up to me and said she used to study law in Aleppo but that Islamic State had killed her father so she had decided to join these forces herself," Drott says. "I tried to speak to her afterwards but never managed to find her or get her name." (The name "Rehana" seems to have come later and is not a common Kurdish name).

The following day, this image was posted on the blog 'Bijikurdistan' which supports the Kurdish effort in Kobane. It then seems to have gone largely unnoticed until it was shared on Twitter over a month later by an English-language news outlet based in the Kurdish region, Slemani Times. That is when the stories and mystery around her began building up on social media.

On 5 October, rumours of her death began to trend. An influential Saudi Twitter user known as @alfaisal_ragad posted an image to her 200,000 followers saying that a Kurdish woman has been beheaded by an IS fighter. On 10 October Twitter user @Kurdistan_Army was among those sharing the image of the beheading beside the photo of the woman who would come to be known as "Rehana" smiling for the camera. The association had been made. The rumours and speculation continued.

Despite the fact that some were claiming she was dead, it was on 13 October that others started naming "Rehana" (still alive in this version). This is also when her story went truly global. It happened through a tweet which was retweeted 5,500 times. "Rehana has killed more than a hundred #ISIS terrorists in #Kobane," that tweet said. "RT and make her famous for her bravery." And so the Angel of Kobane came into existence.

  • 22 AUG - Journalist Carl Drott speaks to Rehana in Kobane
  • 23 AUG - Rehana's image is posted on Bijikurdistan blog
  • 27 SEPT -Rehana's image shared on Twitter and featured on LiveLeak
  • 05 OCT - Images of beheaded Kurdish female fighter circulate online
  • 10 OCT - Link made between beheading of Kurdish woman and Rehana
  • 13 OCT - Claims that Rehana killed over 100 IS fighters

The tweet could be seen as pro-Kurdish propaganda but remarkably, it didn't come from a Kurdish account. Instead it was from Indian blogger Pawan Durani, who describes himself as an activist and links to a site advocating for the rights of Hindus in Kashmir. He has posted many other images of female Kurdish fighters on his Twitter page and he is not alone. Her story has surfaced in the news media too, with headline writers dubbing her the "Angel of Kobane".

"She captivated everyone with her pretty eyes and blonde hair. She has a huge fan base," says the Kurdish blogger Ruwayda Mustafah. "Everyone that I come across admires her because she symbolises what everyone wants to see. That women and men are standing up against barbaric force in the region."

Reporting by India Rakusen, Mukul Devichand, Guney Yildiz and Anne-Marie Tomchak

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


Radio host abuse claims ignite debate

Jian Ghomesh

Fresh allegations that radio host Jian Ghomeshi abused women have sparked intense online discussion about sexual violence.

Jian Ghomeshi, the former presenter of the Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC)'s hugely popular radio show Q, has been accused of violently attacking women during sex. The Toronto Star newspaper spoke to eight women who accused Ghomeshi of behaviour, including choking and hitting them without their consent and sexual harassment in the workplace. Ghomeshi was sacked by CBC on Sunday.

The latest claims have attracted huge public interest, with over 16,000 tweets on the subject being posted within 24 hours. An initial wave of sympathy for Ghomeshi was quickly reversed as details of the allegations came out. Green Party leader Elizabeth May tweeted that his private life was "none of our beeswax" - a statement that she later retracted. While a petition demanding Ghomeshi's re-instatement attracted thousands of signatures, the Huffington Post reported that many were taking pleasure in watching in real time as Ghomeshi rapidly lost social media followers.

Ghomeshi has said that the claims against him are untrue. No charges have been filed.

But in a widely-shared Facebook post, musician Owen Pallett - a friend of Ghomeshi - said he believed the women who had made allegations. There was "no grey area", Pallett added. "I have heard about his ridiculous pick-up lines and have (to my shame) tittered about them with my friends. But I have never heard, until today, that Jian Ghomeshi beats women."

Facebook update Excerpt from Owen Pallett's Facebook update

Many of the responses were supportive of Pallet. Others said Ghomeshi should be considered innocent until proven guilty. Robyn Urback of the National Post insists that "newspaper report is not a jury. Claims are not proof" and concludes that "it's OK to sit in the centre" until more facts are available.

Anne Theriault in Vice, however, argues that the principle of innocent until proven guilty extends to all parties involved, including the alleged victims, and "does not mean that you should assume that these women are lying".

Not everyone has pleaded ignorance. According to the writer Melissa Martin, the question: "Do you know about Jian?" has been asked knowingly across Canada for years. But no-one took action to stop this behaviour, she said, because "sticking your neck out meant publicly taking on one of the most influential people in the Canadian media landscape, someone with more money than you, more lawyers, more protection from his fame".

In one of the episode's more bizarre twists, two women claimed separately they had been introduced to his stuffed bear, Big Ears Teddy, and he turned the toy around just before he assaulted them, saying "Big Ears Teddy shouldn't see this." Subsequently, it emerged that a "Big Ears Teddy" Twitter account had sent 13 tweets in early April to Ghomeshi, in which a woman accused him of inviting her to his house under false pretences before punching her.

Much of the debate focused on Ghomeshi's claims he was victimised for his preference for BDSM - an abbreviation for bondage, discipline, domination, submission, sadism and masochism - and that all of his sexual activities had been consensual. He insisted the CBC had made a "moral judgment" against his lifestyle.

In New York magazine, Kat Stoffell says, if guilty, he would "not be the first person to use his right to privacy and kink to shirk responsibility for allegedly harmful sexual relationships... sex-positive open-mindedness doesn't excuse misconduct". However, Ghomeshi's alleged behaviour should not be used to tar the BDSM community, says Amanda Marcotte in Slate: "The difference between BDSM with consent and BDSM without it is simply the difference between consensual sex and rape."

In the Vancouver Observer, Steffani Cameron writes: "People joke about 'safe words', but in the BDSM community, the safe word is sacred. There is a widespread understanding amongst even hardcore BDSM fans that sadomasochism is all about trust and power - except that power is never held by the person with the whip in hand."

The writer Dan Savage spoke to a woman who said she had enjoyed a consensual BDSM relationship with Ghomeshi. Savage, however, concludes it was a "lucky coincidence" that she enjoyed the same activities as him - "Ghomeshi isn't a safe, sane, and consensual kinkster. He's a reckless, abusive, and dangerous one who has traumatized some women and lucked out with others."

In his most recent Facebook update, Ghomeshi said he would not be responding to the media.

Jian Ghomeshi Facebook update

Reporting by Jon Kelly

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

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Africans reject Jamie's Jollof recipe

Jamie's Jollof rice recipe and chef Jamie Oliver

If there's one thing West Africans don't want you messing with, it's their Jollof rice. Or at least that's how it seems from the online reaction to Jamie Oliver's recipe for the dish.

Here's how to think about Jollof rice: it means to West African nations what paella means to the Spanish, what fish and chips means to Brits or what burritos mean to Mexicans. The traditional dish is made with tomatoes and spices and it's widely considered part of the heart and soul of the region. So when British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver published his own "interpretation" of the dish on his website, there was always the potential for controversy.

Traditional Jollof Rice Traditional Ghanaian Jollof Rice

His recipe was posted in June and went largely unnoticed for months - until this week. The reaction from Africans began with dozens of comments posted on the chef's website in the past week. The conversation then moved on to social media where it escalated. The Oliver recipe has attracted 4,500 comments, a large number of them seemingly from Africans - and many outraged at what they say are changes Oliver has made to the traditional recipe. In the past 24 hours Twitter joined the debate using hashtags like #jollofgate and #jollof.

Oliver is known for his quick, simple dishes, but it seems that with his Jollof rice recipe his sin was trying too hard. He uses coriander, parsley and a lemon wedge, ingredients that users online say are not usually associated with the recipe. But what really offended them was the 600 grams of cherry tomatoes "on the vine". Jollof rice is popularly made from using a mix of blended, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers and scotch bonnet. "This is the base," says Lohi, a Nigerian food blogger. "Jamie's recipe called for whole vegetables!"

Comment on Twitter

"People were surprised that this recipe was so much different from the original," says the author of the Motley Musings blog, which writes about how Africa is represented in popular culture. She warns that people in Africa take their traditional food very seriously, although Oliver does stress in his recipe that he's aware of and has considered the many traditional variations of the dish and has "come up with his own kind of rice".

By creating this recipe Oliver has increased the exposure of the dish. Vera Kwakofi, from BBC Africa, says that's part of the problem: "The danger is that in five years his version will become the official one." The blogger behind Motley Musing agrees: "We have to ask ourselves who actually benefits from Jamie Oliver's 'appreciation' of Jollof rice. This doesn't necessarily translate into value for Africans. For so long, different African cultures have been appropriated without any direct benefit to Africans themselves, and people are particularly sensitive to this."

Comments on Facebook

This is not the first time social media users have targeted a Jollof recipe. Last June the supermarket chain Tesco removed its Jollof rice recipe from its website after complaints on Twitter said it had nothing to do with the real thing. A spokesperson for Jamie Oliver told BBC Trending: "Obviously there was no intention to offend anyone which is why the recipe printed on the Jamie Magazine website is described as 'Jamie's twist' on jollof rice."

Reporting by Gabriela Torres

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


Arab Spring rapper says Tunisia now worse off

Tunisia's 2011 revolution kicked off the Arab Spring. Three years later, however, many young Tunisians feel that nothing has changed.

Millions went to the polls last week in Tunisia's latest free elections, but at the same time, a rap critical of the system has been trending on YouTube, as young hip-hop artist Klay BBJ tunes in to the post-revolution blues blighting many of his peers.

Reporter: Mai Noman

Video journalist: Greg Brosnan

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


What really happened to Jerome Jarre?

Jerome Jarre at Miami airport Jerome Jarre apparently celebrating his freedom

One of the internet's biggest video stars has become a top trend on US Twitter with claims he was being "arrested" on a flight. But according to the airline, that wasn't what happened.

Jerome Jarre is a superstar of online video. The Frenchman's 6-second-long prank videos are sometimes controversial but have made him the fourth most popular account on Vine, with over 7.5 million followers. He's also big on Snapchat, and has 871,000 Twitter followers. It was to this last group that he turned when his latest prank - which unfolded high in the air on an American Airlines flight - seemingly turned sour.

Jarre claims he was "arrested" after landing at Miami-Dade airport after things went wrong while he filmed a new prank video. He appealed for sympathy and for people to use the hashtag #AmericanAirlinesCHILLOUT. It has now been tweeted more than 91,000 times and quickly became the top trend in the US.

Jerome Jarre's tweet

Here is what happened according to Jarre's own Twitter feed: he begins by tweeting that he's on a flight to Miami, during which he was making a video where he "comes out of the bathroom wearing a speedo & an inflatable duck". Tweeting a screenshot of his notes, he claims that everyone on the plane "loved it", all except one of the American Airlines cabin crew. "For some reason he hated the joke. He made calls and promised I would be arrested once I land." That tweet was shared more than 11,000 times.

Once Jarre's plane had landed, he then claimed that he was "about to be arrested". This tweet was accompanied by a picture of himself being photo-bombed by the inflatable duck (which looks suspiciously like a turtle), and again asking his followers to tweet #AmericanAirlinesCHILLOUT. That was retweeted 14,000 times and Jarre's message was quickly trending in America. In subsequent tweets, Jarre claims he spent "3 hours with the FBI".

Jerome Jarre with his 'duck' Jerome Jarre with his 'duck'

BBC Trending has contacted the police at Miami-Dade airport, who confirm that Jarre was detained - but supplied no further details. The FBI have not responded to our queries.

American Airlines version of events is different to Jerome Jarre's. Although they tweeted him offering their assistance as events unfolded, they have since told BBC Trending that while Jarre was detained he was not, in fact, arrested and no charges were pursued against him. In a statement, they said "Speedos may look good at the beach, but no one wants to see them dancing in the aisle at 35,000 feet."

Online, several users have expressed doubt about Jerome Jarre's story, saying that he is a serial self-promoter. A few hours after his initial flurry of tweets, Jarre tweeted a picture of himself in the airport terminal, on his knees, claiming to be celebrating his freedom. He then thanked his followers for "saving him from a life changing ordeal". What is certain is that Jerome Jarre proved how quickly a trend can pick up pace. All you've got to do is ask.

Reporting by Chris Hemmings

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


The faces of Mexico's missing students

#IlustradoresConAyotzinapa

With 43 young Mexicans still missing, the country's illustrators are using art to call for answers.

On 26 September, a coach of male students from Ayotzinapa teacher training college in southern Mexico were on their way to protest over school hiring practices. They were stopped by police who shot at their buses; three were killed. But there is a mystery around 43 others, who have not been heard from since - with speculation police may have handed them over to local militia or a drug cartel.

Valeria Gallo's portrait Valeria Gallo's portrait

The story has moved the Mexican public, with protest marches by thousands, desperate to know the truth. Now, more than 200 artists from across the country have added their voices, and their talents, to those calling for answers. Using the hashtag #IlustradoresConAyotzinapa (#IllustratorsForAyotzinapa), they are painting portraits of the missing individuals. Many of these images are going viral, and the hashtag has now been used over 14,000 times.

Bef's portrait Bef's portrait

Valeria Gallo is one of those artists disillusioned by her government's handling of the incident. She has a son, and told BBC Trending she does not want him growing up in a Mexico where kidnappings and murder are accepted by society. At random she chose one of the missing students, Benjamin Ascencio, drew him and posted it on a Tumblr page. She then called on her peers to follow suit . "I think when you paint someone´s portrait, he´s no longer an unknown," she says. "He has a name, a face. He becomes a person." In a country where reprisals are common, she says getting so many people to sit down and draw was not easy. "Some people were afraid," she says, "but now we can go out and shout, and demand answers".

Güerogüero's portrait Güerogüero's portrait

Another illustrator, known by the name Bef, is one of those that heeded the call. He chose to draw 21-year-old Bernardo Alcaraz - and above the image he wrote: "I, Bef, want to know what happened to Bernardo Flores Alcaraz". He told BBC Trending it is his "obligation" to get involved because "government-run media outlets are helping to hide the truth". He says social media protests are now the "only option" and each drawing is making a "powerful statement".

Güerogüero, another artist who got involved, says his "anger and sadness" meant, once he had learned of the campaign, he felt a "necessity" to get involved. He says people in his country are tired of the "violence, corruption and all the mud and dirt Mexico is buried in". He chose 19-year-old Carlos Lorenzo Hernandez Munoz as his muse, again demanding to "know what happened".

None of those involved have met the families of their subjects, but they say that is not necessary. Bef says he's helping his subject Bernardo's relatives by "making more people aware", while Güerogüero says that he wants Carlos' family to know that "thousands want justice".

Valeria's message is clear: "Benjamin Asencio is now a part of me and every student is now a part of every illustrator that's been working on this project." She says the best way to help is by doing what they have been doing for years: "drawing".

The Mexican government has ordered an inquiry into what happened. The governor of Guerrero, the state where the students disappeared, has resigned and the local mayor and local police chief are both on the run.

Reporting by Chris Hemmings

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


The President's Umbrella

Over a month since demonstrations started on the streets of Hong Kong calling for full democracy, images of umbrellas are still trending online - but protestors have focussed in on one umbrella in particular.

It belongs to Chinese President Xi Jinping. The meme developed after a photo of him holding an umbrella won China's top photojournalism prize. Edited images of Mr Xi in various scenarios holding the umbrella have been widely shared.

Xi Jinping holding a yellow umbrella Artist Kacey Wong was among those to share memes of President Xi.

Hong Kong artist Kacey Wong was one of the first to use the umbrella as a protest symbol, and he has continued his drive to get people to share umbrella artwork on social media. Wong recently shared a pro-democracy video on his Facebook page which has been viewed over 200,000 times. It starts off in black and white and features a selection of young people walking backwards. The second part of the video features the same words, but is in colour and the participants are walking forwards. So what message that can be interpreted from this video? "They're saying the government are trying to twist the facts and they are using the video to issue a reminder to people why they're on the streets." says Kris Cheng, a Hong Kong based journalist and political columnist.

The hashtag #UmbrellaRevolution has been used 393,000 times on Twitter and Instagram over the past month. #UmbrellaMovement has been used over 105,000 times over the same period. The peak of the conversation happened in the first week of October. On the streets, umbrellas are still being brandished. On Tuesday, thousands of people rallied outside the city's government headquarters clutching them.

Reporting by Anne-Marie Tomchak.

Video journalist: Ravin Sampat.

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


Hidden camera captures street harassment

Shoshana Roberts talked to the BBC about her experiment

A video showing a young woman being pestered by catcallers has gone viral, re-igniting the debate about street harassment.

A woman walks along the streets of New York City, minding her own business. Men call out at her: "What's up beautiful?", "Nice!", "Hey baby!". When she ignores them, she is admonished ("Smile!", "You should say thank you more"). At one point a man walks alongside her in silence for over five minutes, despite her obvious discomfort. In total she encounters over 100 comments in 10 hours - not including many more non-verbal signals like winks and whistles.

For many women this experience may sound unremarkable, if depressing. But on this occasion Shoshana B Roberts, 24, was filmed by a hidden camera. A two-minute video, titled 10 Hours of Walking In NYC as a Woman, attracted hundreds of thousands of hits on YouTube within hours. It was produced for Hollaback!, which campaigns against street harassment. "This is a typical day in my life," says Roberts. "People need to be aware that this is going on."

The aim of the video is twofold, says Emily May, founder and executive director of Hollaback!. It's intended to show victims of harassment that they aren't alone, and to demonstrate to those who have never experienced such treatment how intimidating it can be. Rob Bliss, who shot the hidden camera footage, said that as a man he was "really surprised" by the sheer volume of approaches Roberts received. He says many men like him simply don't realise how common this kind of behaviour is and the impact it can have. "I don't have an expectation of changing anyone's behaviour, but I wanted a guy to see what it's like from a neutral, third-person perspective what it's like to experience street harassment," he says.

The video has been widely circulated on social networking sites, adding further impetus to a long-standing debate. Roberts hopes it will make harassers consider their actions. She says: "I don't know what needs to happen, but clearly something does."

As a further demonstration of her point, Hollaback! today asked its Twitter followers to help report rape threats against Roberts which appeared in the video's comments section.

Reporting by Jon Kelly

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

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Murdered for tweeting?

In Tamaulipas, one of Mexico's most violent states, people use social media to get basic information. The drug cartels have silenced traditional news media.

But the cartels are now turning their attention to prominent social media users too. #BBCtrending reports on an apparent kidnapping, not just of a person, but of their Twitter account - which seems to have later been used to tweet her murder.

Video journalist: Greg Brosnan

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


'We are human after all'

Ali Chebli 'Not in my name' - Ali Chebli holds up his message of peace

"Not in my name" is one of social media's simplest and often most powerful messages. It trended recently on Twitter in Europe, as Muslims distanced themselves from Islamic State (IS), and it's now being used on Facebook in Canada in direct response to last week's killings of two soldiers in two separate attacks.

Those actions, by recent converts to Islam, have threatened to polarise Canada. In a week that shocked the country, Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent was killed in a targeted hit-and-run, then, just two days later, Corporal Nathan Cirillo was shot dead during an attack on the National War Memorial. Police have taken steps to assure Muslim communities of their safety from reprisal attacks but, in Quebec, two teenagers took to the internet to spread their own message.

It's no coincidence that Muslims in Quebec feel compelled to speak out; both perpetrators are from the French-speaking region of the country. After a discussion about the incidents with her family, 15-year-old Nour Zirat set up the group "Not in my name Canada". She told BBC Trending she was inspired by the movement in Europe and "had to show solidarity with the rest of the world, to say this isn't acceptable." She also feels prejudice against Muslims in Canada has been present for a long time, but in her view those within the community have been too quiet. "I did this to break the silence and encourage people to express their beliefs," she says.

Ali Chebli is also from Quebec, and he set up "Pas en mon nom", a French-language version of the group. A picture of him holding up his message has since been shared more than 6,000 times, prompting many other young Muslims to follow suit. He says that prejudice towards Muslims has worsened since last week, and says it's his "duty" to show Canadians "the difference between a simple Muslim and a terrorist". He told Trending that "nobody should be associated with this type of violence". Beneath his image, Chebli said he wants to "fight against hate speech and the actions of jihadists". He then encourages others who "adhere to the religion of Islam" to "explain why they dissociate with terrorist groups", and make those with a distrust of Muslims understand that "we are human after all".

Both groups are gaining increased interest but Ali Chebli's image has had the biggest impact. It's now been 'liked' nearly 20,000 times and has led to more and more people proclaiming "Not in my name".

Reporting by Chris Hemmings.


Outpouring after radio host sacking

Jian Ghomeshi Ghomeshi hosted the CBC programme Q

Over the course of 24 hours, the court of public opinion stood behind Canada's beloved - and as of Sunday, former - radio host Jian Ghomeshi, and then turned on him almost as quickly.

It was the day Ghomeshi was sacked from the Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC), the day he released a 1,590-word defence on Facebook and indicated he plans to sue the CBC for $50m Canadian ($45m; £27.5m), and finally, the day The Toronto Star released an investigation with allegations from several women who claim Ghomeshi violently attacked them during sex.

On that day, 20,000 Twitter users voiced disappointment of some form or another. Ever since the story has been a national fascination.

Ghomeshi has said that the allegations against him are untrue. No charges have been filed.

Adina Goldman, a social media expert in Toronto, watched the story evolve via the #jianghomeshi hashtag.

"I did see general outrage at the CBC , because there had been so many cuts to CBC, and was this about ratings, was it a Harper conspiracy," says Goldman. But as new information was revealed, "it became, 'Wait a second,' and people started coming forward, and then it became 'This is really fishy.' And then I guess he tried to get ahead of that story by publishing his version."

An excerpt of Ghomeshi's facebook letter An excerpt from Ghomeshi's Facebook letter

The situation unfolded differently than it would have a few years ago, says Goldman.

"It used to happen that there would be a trickle of rumours and then there would be a story, but now... there's almost something compulsive or propulsive about it. It happens all at once."

On social media, she watched several narratives play out: discussions of rape culture, the audience attacking the credibility of both Ghomeshi and the women who came forward, and debate over the 50 Shades of Grey effect - Ghomeshi compared his behaviour it to the actions in the sexual bondage/submission novel by EL James.

Tweet

"We see an allegation that really ignites something, but I think it's really important to breathe between that information, because it flows so fast and so hard and we can sort of become this social media lynch mob."

"It can become so toxic and so angry," says Goldman.

"Let's wait and see what's vetted and true."

Reported by Micah Luxen

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


The #BBCtrending podcast

Young girl dressed as princess The 'F-bombs for Feminism' viral video

Listen to or download the Trending podcast

A bad word for a good cause or a cynical attempt to make cash? On this weeks BBC Trending, we take a look at what's really behind controversial viral video 'F-Bombs for Feminism'. The feminist campaign video shows young girls dressed as princesses whilst swearing. But it's not just a campaign as the T-shirt company who made it are openly for profit.

Also, why a woman in one of the most dangerous states in Mexico, Tamaulipas, was kidnapped and apparently murdered because of her Twitter account. She used to anonymously share information about local violence and crime but this time her profile published a sombre warning to similar accounts and finally an image of the woman apparently dead.

You can catch it all on our latest free podcast. Download and subscribe here or catch us on the BBC World Service Saturdays at 10.30 GMT.

The programme is presented by Mukul Devichand and produced by India Rakusen

The latest #BBCTrending show


Clowns behaving badly

Evil clown smiling

French police have arrested several young people behaving violently dressed as clowns, amid concerns that a disturbing subculture of "scary clowns" is spreading on social media.

Social networks have been awash with chatter about "evil clowns" after a number of recent incidents in France. The subject is among the top trending topics on the social platform Reddit. On Saturday, police in Agde arrested 14 teenagers who were dressed as clowns wielding pistols, knives and baseballs bats. In Montpellier, a man in a clown costume was arrested after beating another man with an iron bar. And in Bethune, in the north of France, a 19-year-old was sentenced to a suspended jail term for threatening passers-by while dressed as a clown.

Why are people dressing as clowns and behaving this way? Police in France believe the internet has played a pivotal role. "Since mid-October, there's been a rumour inspired by videos shared on the internet, which is worrying people about the presence of threatening and aggressive clowns in France" said a police statement.

In fact, the use of frightening clown imagery online is an international trend. Earlier this month in the US, there were several reports of scary clowns in California, Florida and New Mexico. Photos of clowns were shared on social media accounts using the name "Wasco Clown".

The Wasco Clown was was originally an art project featuring photos of an anonymous clown in the town of the same name. It inspired copycats, with some sharing disturbing images of clowns in intimidating scenarios. Social media accounts using the Wasco Clown name built up a following on Twitter and Instagram. There was also on a tribute Facebook page. There is no confirmation that these accounts are connected to incidents reported to police, and some are no longer accessible online.

Countless videos of scary pranks involving clowns are also being shared on YouTube - one of which has been viewed over 29 million times. This video shows a staged but violent attack by a clown in front of unsuspecting passers-by.

Social media is also being used as part of a counter movement. In France, police say groups are organising online to track down the clowns and they're taking the matter very seriously. "Anyone, aggressive clowns or clown hunters, found in possession of a weapon in a public place will be arrested and can be held in police custody," said a police statement. They've urged the public to stop spreading rumours online and have issued information on how to send an alert about an aggressive clown.

Reporting by Anne-Marie Tomchak. .


Swearing for feminism

A video which gets girls as young as six to swear has been watched over 12 million times online with the space of a few days.

The makers of the film - a for-profit company - say they put the girls in pink princess costumes and got them to use "a bad word for a good cause" to start a conversation about feminism.

But controversially, they're also selling a product as Anne-Marie Tomchak reports.

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


Camel abuse sparks outcry in China

PIC VIA WEIBO

Pictures showing a mutilated camel being forced to beg on the streets of China's south-eastern Fuzhou city, have prompted an outcry on Chinese social media.

The images were reported to have originated on Sina Weibo, China's version of Twitter, and were soon picked up and widely circulated across various other social media sites. They drew fierce debate about whether the beggars had deliberately mutilated the animals to trigger public sympathy. The pictures seemed to show a camel whose limbs had been lost, tethered to two men who were begging for money. "These people have to be such soulless creatures to be able to do that to the poor beast and parade it around like that. What kind of society have we become, exploiting animals for profit and greed?" commented one Weibo user. "Their plan to buy sympathy has clearly failed: anyone would look at their act with disgust," another said.

Wild camels are protected by law in China, but the unfortunate ones in the photographs have been identified as domestic Bactrian camels. These are commonly used across the country for transport and do not come under protection laws, activist John Hare tells BBC Trending. His charity, the Wild Camel Protection Foundation, aims to protect the animals in China and Mongolia, and has since circulated the images to the authorities. He has advice for concerned Chinese citizens: "If the public does not want any confrontation with the beggars, they should inform the authorities. But unfortunately as the pictures show, people tend to walk by, say nothing and do nothing."

Several online petitions were also set up, demanding the perpetrators be punished. One petition, which was posted on Change.org, called for a street vendor caught abusing his camel to be prosecuted. Another petition, which drew close to 15,000 signatures, called for 'urgent action' from the Chinese government to create legislation against animal abuse.

Reporting by Heather Chen

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


Toilets and free speech in Texas

Houston Mayor Annise Parker Mayor Parker is at the centre of the debate in Houston

A legal battle over who can use men's and women's public toilets in Houston, Texas, has spiralled into a social media war about basic American freedoms, and is still gathering speed.

The story begins in May, when the city passed an ruling intended to strengthen the rights of minority groups. One detail was that transgender people were given the right to use male or female public toilets based on their own choice. The ruling was widely promoted by Houston's mayor, Annise Parker, and dubbed the "Bathroom Bill" by her conservative opponents. A group of Christian pastors gathered 50,000 signatures demanding the law be repealed.

The pastors had hoped to trigger a legal mechanism to repeal the law, but the city struck this down. So the pastors filed a lawsuit. The city's lawyers then sent subpoena orders to to see the sermons and speeches of five pastors in particular. The city wanted to see what they had been saying on the topics of homosexuality, gender identity and Mayor Parker herself, who is lesbian.

When the news was reported earlier this month, social media users were outraged. They saw demands for the pastors' information as an attack on the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of speech and religious expression. On Twitter, a hashtag promoted by Christian campaigners - #HoustonWeHaveAProblem - sprung to life, and has appeared more than 5,000 times in the last ten days. "I guess Houston's mayor's next move is to collect all bibles and redact the verses pertaining to homosexuality," tweeted one. The campaigners are calling on the city to "cease and desist all bullying and other offensive actions" against the pastors. Their online petition has had more than 11,000 signatures.

A campaign poster This Facebook image, from a legal organisation defending the pastors' case, has been liked more than 22,000 times

Actor Chuck Norris has now weighed in on the debate in his column on a news website. "I'm a Texan and it chaps my hide when some homegrown kibosh of the U.S. Constitution originates in the Lone Star State," he wrote.

Mayor Parker has not remained silent on the issue. Earlier this month she tweeted: "If the 5 pastors used pulpits for politics, their sermons are fair game," but later deleted the message. And now public pressure has forced the city council to row back on its demands to see sermons and emails - saying it only wants to see the pastor's speeches. "Never intended to interfere w/ pastors & their sermons or an intrusion on religion," Parker tweeted, when the announcement was made.

The controversy shows no sign of dying down. On Monday Mike Huckabee, former Republican governor for Arkansas and Fox News commentator, called his followers to sign yet another petition supporting the pastors. The number of signatories do not appear on the site, but later that day he claimed it had already received more than 85,000 signatures.

Reporting by Samiha Nettikkara

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The truth about teens and 'sexting'

Teenagers view sexting as the new 'safe sex' says Hanna Rosin

Only 30% of teenagers in the US "sext" - that is, send risque photographs over social media. But the practice has permeated the culture and lead to concerns among parents and lawmakers.

In her cover story for the Atlantic Magazine, author Hanna Rosin says these photos are a modern reflection of teenaged sexuality.

But they are not without problems. Photos can be posted on social media sites without consent. Teenagers can feel pressured to send these photos to get attention from a potential partner. And the current laws regarding the distribution and possession of these images don't fully address the nuances involved.

Rosin spoke to the BBC about why teenagers send these messages and what parents can do about it.

Reported by Micah Luxen; edited by Bill McKenna

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'I am not a virus'

An image suggesting calling people not to stigmatise those from countries facing an Ebola outbreak

The rallying cry of "I am not a virus" - used to fight being stigmatised as having Ebola - is now gaining traction on private chat apps in West Africa.

As we've reported before on BBC Trending, people in Ebola-hit West Africa are taking their conversations "off-grid" by using private chat apps, such as WhatsApp, instead of social media networks. They do this because they fear being punished by the authorities, with official restrictions on how information about the disease can be disseminated. We have been keeping an eye on several Ebola-related chat groups in West Africa. As well as information updates, they are now being used to share a more political message: "isolate Ebola, not the country".

The movement against stigmatisation started on conventional social media networks, when four Liberian women began the "I am a Liberian, Not a Virus" campaign this month. More than 1,500 users have used the hashtag #IAmALiberianNotAVirus on Twitter, with their YouTube video having been viewed more than 17,000 times in the last week. The campaign is intended to highlight what its supporters say are instances of discrimination against Africans, for example at US airports. The social media trend has now been taken up by users of WhatsApp, the most popular chat app in Africa. Users in Sierra Leone, for example, are asking their friends to share the message against discrimination with "one foreign friend".

An image suggesting calling people not to stigmatise those from countries facing an Ebola outbreak

One widely-shared post in Sierra Leone says: "Reject me if u like; accept me if u like; return me if u like; allow me entry if u like; isolate me if u like; be there for me if u like; abandon me if u like; support me if u like; whatever u choose is your decision but don't forget this, i am a PROUD SIERRA LEONEAN with dignity and not a virus. Please share this to one foreign 'friend'." The video below, from the BBC's Focus on Africa team, features one of the most vocal voices in Sierra Leone, blogger Hannah Foullah.

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Sgt-at-arms hailed as Canadian hero

Parliamentary Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers, who shot dead the gunman, was given a standing ovation on Thursday

On Wednesday afternoon, after Canadian House of Commons Sgt-at-arms Kevin Vickers reportedly shot a gunman in a parliament building in Ottawa, he was hailed on Twitter as Canada's hero.

Before his name was announced on news outlets like the BBC, he was trending on social media. By the end of the day more than 15,000 people had tweeted about his actions.

Vickers is reported to have killed Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, who officials say opened fire in Canada's parliament minutes after a soldier was shot dead at an Ottawa war memorial.

As sergeant-at-arms, Vickers is in charge of security at parliament, though that rarely means resorting to gunfire.

Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers, seen in Ottawa on 22 October 2014 Kevin Vickers has been credited with halting the attack

Canadians showed their appreciation online, with Twitter user @KristiColleen even declaring he should be made "King or something".

She's since changed her Twitter background to a 2005 McSweeny's list of "Reasons to Fear Canada" ("Never had a 'disco phase,'" for one).

"Didn't know who Kevin Vickers was a couple hours ago. Now I feel like every Canadian town should have a school named after him," one man wrote.

Canada's capital buildings were locked down during the incident, and many politicians took a moment to thank Vickers for his service.

Peter McKay, Canada's minister of justice tweeted, "To all in Ottawa, stay safe & strong. Thank God for Sgt at Arms Kevin Vickers & our Cdn security forces. True heroes #cndpoli."

Vickers's previous claim to viral fame was June 2011, when he escorted a former page-turned-protestor out of the Senate.

Senate page Brigette DePape, holding a sign reading "Stop Harper" is led from the room by Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers (R) in the Senate chamber on Parliament Hill in Ottawa in this file photo from June 3, 2011.

He remains ever committed to his duties. More than nine hours after the first reports of the shooting, Toronto Star reporter Tonda MacCharles reported from the scene:

"Kevin Vickers is still overseeing the security operation up at Centre Block where lockdown is still on,"

Reported by Micah Luxen

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Hong Kong's political haircut

Emily Lau

As pro-democracy protests continue on the streets of Hong Kong, even the hairdressers has become a place for political confrontation - as one senior politician found out.

Emily Lau Wai-hing is a legislator with the Democratic Party who openly supports the protestors. She's been trending on social media after being filmed getting a telling off by another customer while at the hair salon. "I just had my hair done last Saturday," Lau told BBC Trending. "When I tried to leave, a lady, a customer like me, stood at the doorway to block my exit. She was upset with the Occupy protesters and wanted me to have a taste of being blocked. She also asked me why I had time to do my hair."

A video of the incident was uploaded to YouTube and has so far been watched over 70,000 times. It's not confirmed who took the video, but Lau says the woman who confronted her kept pointing at her mobile phone. "When other people tried to enter or leave the salon, she moved aside, but wouldn't let me go" she said.

Emily Lau Wai-hing is a former journalist and now a senior politician and legislator in Hong Kong. She's received awards for her human rights work and is known for speaking her mind. However in this video, she says nothing. The only voice that can be heard is the one coming from behind the camera.

"It's the irony that's making people share this video" says Kris Cheng a journalist and political columnist in Hong Kong. "Emily Lau is known for criticism without restraint. But this time she's scolded and seemingly can't fight back. The woman in the salon is against the protests and is asking Lau why students have to sleep on streets, while she takes care of her hair."

"I appreciate some people are upset with the occupiers, so I didn't argue with her," Lau says. BBC Trending has been unable to contact the woman who approached Lau in the salon.

Lau may have remained silent in the hair salon, but she tells us her views are unchanged. "It's very sad to see the row over political reform and the Occupy movement have split Hong Kong asunder!" she says. "I just wish Beijing would come to its senses and allow Hong Kong to have democratic elections." Officials in Hong Kong have just held the first round of talks with protest leaders.

Reporting by Anne-Marie Tomchak


Organic genderless gingerbread debated

A gingerbread figure, labelled as genderless and vegan

The traditional gingerbread "man" has been re-imagined by a Melbourne bakery, leading to a surge of irritation on web forums. But what does the debate tell us about the politics of the internet?

Ethically aware, health-conscious liberals rejoice. The patriarchal stranglehold on baked treats has been broken at last. But not everyone is celebrating.

This picture - of a row of emasculated gingerbread men - was shared on the web forum Reddit on Tuesday. As the sign makes clear, they're organic, they're gender-neutral and, of course, they're vegan. The post, titled "So this is what the world is coming to...," attracted more than 2,000 comments in just a few hours. The picture was also widely shared on Facebook, and the internet discussion prompted one British newspaper to declare, sarcastically, that "genderless gingerbread figures are a thing now".

The picture itself appears to have been taken at a delicatessen in Melbourne, Australia. We've been unable to contact the owners, but - from the use of the word "genderless" alone - it seems fair to assume the message is tongue-in-cheek. That didn't stop Redditors, and others, taking umbrage at the idea. Comments like "That's so politically correct it makes my brain hurt," and "just wait, next they wont have ginger so as not to offend," sum up the tenor of the conversation. Though some appeared to find it funny, the overwhelming emotion was one of annoyance.

The debate over "political correctness", and polarised views on what's good to eat, are hardly new, But the debate did highlight the way different social media platforms tend to take different sides on cultural debates. Anger over the healthy gingerbread "person" was driven by Reddit users, who are regularly criticised by feminists for their attitudes. Sure enough, one Reddit user said these were "feminist cookies," and another said "I blame Tumblr for this" - a reference to a perceived rivalry between users of Reddit and Tumblr, a popular blogging platform.

Of course, both Reddit and Tumblr have users with a broad spectrum of political views, but common stereotypes are that Tumblr bloggers are over-sensitive, female, social justice campaigners (or "Tumblrinas"), whereas Redditors are aggressive, sexist, and male. A number of people in the conversation posted links to "TumblrInAction", a section of the Reddit website that pokes fun at Tumblr blogs that supposedly fit the stereotype. And to counter them, others posted "I blame ****RedditSays" - a self-parodying section of the Reddit website, where Redditors themselves pick out quotes that play up to their own negative image.

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Rapper: Australian flag linked with racism

360

Australian hip-hop artist 360 provoked a fierce debate when he said he associated his country's national flag with bigotry.

Asked how the nation was perceived abroad, the platinum-selling performer - real name Matt Colwell - told the ABC discussion programme Q&A:

"The Australian flag to me has now become... I identify it with racism."

The audience applauded when asked if they agreed.

The rapper described seeing drunks with the flag around their neck racially abusing taxi drivers. "I've seen it so much, growing up and still today. It's pathetic."

He also tweeted: "I think those who fought under the flag for this country would be ashamed of the racism under the guise of patriotism in Australia."

There was an angry online response. "You lost another fan today. Our flag is racist? Uneducated fool," posted Michael Ockhertz on 360's Facebook page.

"I love being australian @3ree6ixty that doesn't make me a racist," tweeted @frozenuptwice. Others said it was unfair to smear the vast majority of Australians who proudly fly the flag with the behaviour of a small group of bigots.

But there were also plenty of supporters of 360. Many pointed out that he had not said the flag was racist - simply that it had been hijacked by racists.

"@3ree6ixty Great appearance on Q&A. The only people you've upset seem to be aggressive racists," tweeted @tonyslats.

"Our servicemen died for what the piece of cloth represents, not its fabric, and that is exactly what he was lamenting," posted Claye Middleton on Facebook.

"The flag has been hijacked by people who have little respect for others views, beliefs, or nationality of origin."

In the wake of the furore, 360 said he had been threatened with violence. But he stood firm, insisting: "I'm not anti-Australia, I'm anti-racist Australian."

On his Facebook page, he reiterated his view that the symbols of patriotism were being used to mask racism.

Facebook post by 360

Reporting by Jon Kelly

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Man vs. Subway

The craze for racing trains and uploading the results on YouTube - kickstarted in London a couple of months ago - has now gone global.

The practice has become known as #racethetube after a video made in London was watched more than 5 million times on YouTube. It involves getting off a train and running to the next stop to catch the same train.

Recently the trend went global, but there are earlier examples. In 2005, a student in Scotland tried to beat the train in Glasgow. And a similar video filmed on the metro in Paris trended in 2012.

Anne-Marie Tomchak reports

Video journalist: Neil Meads

Want more? You can watch the full interview with the man behind Race The Tube on the BBC Trending YouTube channel.

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About BBC Trending

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

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