In-depth reporting on the world of social media


London, United Kingdom






In-depth reporting on the world of social media




How humanitarian crises are exploited online

We investigate the money-making schemes that spring up on platforms like TikTok in the wake of conflict. First - the war in Ukraine saw a wave of donations from ordinary citizens around the world. But as we discover, scammers have joined the fray, exploiting emotive content in a bid to siphon cash from the catastrophe. And second - TikTok livestreams featuring Syrian refugees pleading for help are generating big money from sympathetic viewers online. We find out where most of the funds...


Cash for conspiracy theories

If promoting harmful conspiracy theories can be a lucrative way to make money, then is the best way for victims to fight back by hitting those responsible in the wallet? Alex Jones made a fortune from his Infowars website, before he was ordered to pay nearly £1.5 billion in defamation damages for falsely claiming that the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting was a hoax Parents of some of the 22 people murdered during the massacre, brought the legal action after suffering years of abuse and...


Akon’s Wakanda and a crumbling crypto dream

The R’n’B singer Akon has had an incredibly successful music career, with a number of smash hits and legions of fans. Recently the singer launched two ambitious projects that are inextricably linked. The first is a cryptocurrency called Akoin that Akon says will provide financial independence for Africans, although some people are dissatisfied after investing in the dream and having nothing to show for it. The other project is a reported $6billion futuristically designed metropolis on the...


Med beds: Miracle cure or misinformation?

The lack of science around 'med beds' - miracle devices with magical healing properties - has not stopped people from shelling out thousands of dollars to buy them. Why have med beds taken off online and who is selling them? Presenter: Mike Wendling Producer: Elizabeth Hotson


SafeMoon and the chaotic world of crypto

SafeMoon promised its investors a trip to the moon but instead cost some their life savings. We speak to the YouTuber Coffeezilla who investigated the problematic token, the people who lost out and we assess the safety and future of crypto coins. Presenter: Joe Tidy Producers: Jerry Sullivan and Beth Godwin Editor: Flora Carmichael


India’s anti-MLM movement

The past few years gave way to a boom in the number of people joining direct selling schemes in India who were lured in by the false promise of riches. These tactics – imported from the West – have been quietly growing without much scrutiny. Ria – not her real name – fell prey to one of the largest schemes operating in the country. In an exclusive interview for BBC Trending, she reveals how she was trained to “attract people” into the business. There is a small group of crusaders who are...


The influencer and the insider: Chinmark's demise

In 2020 the Chinmark Group appeared to be a thriving Nigerian business empire, endorsed by a string of popular influencers online. It sold investment deals to its followers, promising them astonishing returns. Today the empire is in tatters, but what went wrong? We hear from a social media star who hyped the company up, a former employee who sold the scheme to the public, and a student who staked his life savings on its success - losing everything in the process. And we’ll find out why firms...


The 'Alan MacMasters’ toaster hoax

For more than a decade, he tricked the world into believing a Scottish scientist called Alan MacMasters invented the electric toaster in 1893. At the heart of this web of fantasy was a Wikipedia article that fooled dozens of journalists, public officials, and even primary school teachers. But how did this hoaxer get away with it for so long? And how did an eagle-eyed 15-year-old eventually manage to expose his deception? Presenter: Marco Silva Editor: Flora Carmichael


Roe v Wade: The next battle

Since the overturning of Roe versus Wade, dozens of US abortion clinics have closed their doors. Now efforts to provide abortion information and access have moved online, where false claims, genuine pills and dodgy remedies sit side by side. We meet the anti-abortion campaigners spreading false claims that clinically approved pills are dangerous and pro-choice supporters promoting dodgy herbal remedies on social media. Presenter: Rachel Schraer Producers: Jerry Sullivan & Kayleen Devlin...


Political influencers for hire – in Kenya

Ahead of Kenya’s general election, a bitter war for public opinion was being fought on social media. In a bid to sway the result, online influencers – from students to pop stars – were offered cash in exchange for political messages. Critics say that paid political messages are swamping social media – but they aren’t declared as adverts, and instead they pose as genuine political opinion. We meet some of the key players in the country’s online information economy: micro-influencers,...


Can MrBeast help fix climate change?

MrBeast is YouTube royalty: with more than 100 million subscribers, he has legions of fans around the world, in awe of his elaborate stunts. He is one of the highest-paid stars on the platform - and yet, the American YouTuber says he wants to use his platform to “make the world a better place”. He has thrown his weight behind two viral environmental campaigns: #TeamTrees and #TeamSeas. Together, they have raised more than 55 million dollars to plant trees and remove plastic from the ocean....


The strange story of QAnon in Japan

How did a bizarre US-based conspiracy theory about Donald Trump being the saviour of the world, lead to people protesting in the streets of Tokyo and Osaka accusing police of being reptiles? From its obscure online beginnings only a few years ago, the QAnon movement in Japan has morphed through several different phases, becoming ever more extreme in the process. Its latest incarnation is a group called Yamato Q, which embraces a series of wild and false claims. Its members believe they have...


The misrule of Canada’s QAnon queen

Romana Didulo is a QAnon influencer who proclaimed herself “Queen of Canada”. She has issued a series of bizarre and bloodcurdling “royal decrees” claiming to have cancelled all personal debt and threatening the death penalty for those who defy her. It’s all a complete fantasy, but that hasn’t prevented her attracting a sizeable following which helps fund her tours around her kingdom in a fleet of large motor homes. Now this maple leaf monarch is seeking to expand her empire beyond Canada....


Russian QAnon and the Ukraine dilemma

Russian QAnon and the Ukraine dilemma QAnon is rooted in the deep divisions of American politics and helped inspire the storming of the US capitol in Washington. So why has this bizarre and baseless conspiracy theory also been attracting supporters in places like Moscow and Siberia? The third part of Trending’s mini-series about the global impact of QAnon investigates its growing popularity in Russia. But while some supporters have adapted QAnon ideas for a Russian context, this fledgling...


Has QAnon fuelled South Africa’s divisions?

What happened when a bizarre US-based conspiracy theory surfaced a continent away in Africa? In the second part of Trending’s mini series about the impact of QAnon around the world, we report from South Africa. At the heart of QAnon is the baseless claim that former US president Donald Trump is waging a secret war against a cabal of powerful paedophiles who run American politics and Hollywood. But in South Africa, elements of QAnon have been translated into the local context of pre-existing...


QAnon at the ballot box

Believers in the QAnon conspiracy theory were part of the mob that stormed the US Capitol on 6 January 2021. Even though the movement’s figurehead went silent for months, followers continue to try to influence American politics – but their tactics have changed. Members of a coalition assembled by a QAnon influencer are running for public office in more than a dozen states, targeting positions that control elections. Among them are Jim Marchant, a Republican candidate for secretary of state...


India’s alt-right 'trads'

A new extremist Hindu movement made up mostly of young men is emerging in India. They call themselves “trads” – short for traditionalists - and they mimic the tricks and techniques used by the American alt-right. This fringe movement came to prominence after some of its proponents created Bulli Bai, an app that pretended to auction off prominent Muslim women - making them the targets of abuse and harassment. Trads love memes and loathe mainstream Hindu nationalist parties, even the ruling...


The online boom in climate doom

It is hard not to feel anxious about climate change. After all, the world is already experiencing the effects of global warming - and scientists tell us much worse could still be on its way. For some, tackling climate change feels like a lost cause: a job so big and complex, that it is doomed for failure - the demise of the human species is inevitable. This is wrong. But even though this view is predicated on falsehoods and distortions, it appears to be spreading online - and a lot of young...


Gaming Brazil's election

Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro has enjoyed a particularly close relationship with the gaming community. They were one of the groups he relied on to get elected in 2018 and he has since rewarded them by lowering taxes on video games consoles. The country’s gaming industry is unique – forged by a combination of strict import laws under military rule, homegrown talent and later, high prices which kept the world of gaming firmly in the hands of the rich and privileged. Brazilian gamers were...


Confessions of an election troll in the Philippines

We hear from a troll from the Philippines - the "patient zero" of fake news. Experts say the problem is as bad as ever, as a new election looms. Researchers claim that tactics seen playing out in the southeast Asian country have cropped up elsewhere since Rodrigo Duterte rose to power – perhaps most notably in the US in 2016. Now it’s time for Filipinos to return to the polls, and the experts warn that the problem hasn’t been solved – the current campaign has been plagued by disinformation....