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Fake news and false confessions in Sudan protests

Trending investigates claims that innocent men were framed to try to discredit demonstrations against Sudan’s former leader Omar al-Bashir. After mass street protests, the military stepped in to end President Bashir’s 30-year rule earlier this month. But the BBC has uncovered evidence that the regime organised a fake news campaign to try to portray peaceful protesters as violent rebels. Students were allegedly tortured to make false confessions that were filmed and distributed online....


Jered Threatin: The fake rock star

How did an ambitious musician fool thousands of people using social media? Jered Threatin successfully managed to fake an entire existence as a rock star. He persuaded people he was an award-winning musician who had played to sold-out venues. And as a result of his seemingly popular social media accounts and faked web pages, he orchestrated a European tour, got his eponymous band booked in venues across six countries. The BBC’s Jessica Lussenhop got an exclusive interview with Jered...


TikTok’s problem with online predators

The video-sharing app TikTok has taken the teenage world by storm. But where there are kids, there are also predators. We found dozens of adults using TikTok to post sexual comments on videos uploaded by teenagers and children. TikTok, which has 500 million users worldwide, says it is working hard to protect its users from inappropriate approaches. But a BBC Trending investigation exposed some worrying shortcomings in the way it deals with the problem. Presenter: Mike Wendling Reporter:...


‘I invested in Facebook … now I am ashamed’

Roger McNamee was a Facebook fan and an advisor to Mark Zuckerberg. Now he says he’s sad about the way the company is being run and the impact that it’s having on the world. Zuckerberg first sought out his advice, McNamee says, in 2006, shortly after Yahoo was making a $1bn bid to buy the social media company. McNamee, a veteran Silicon Valley investor, says he saw Facebook’s potential and urged the young entrepreneur to stay independent. But a decade later, he saw hyper-partisan posts...


Decoding far-right online hate after Christchurch

Where does the extremist culture that inspired the Christchurch killer come from? A graphic live-streamed video and a rambling document included clues as to how the Christchurch shooter was radicalised. He used the message board 8chan to announce his attacks, which killed 50 people in the New Zealand city. And throughout his online postings are clues to how connected he was with the online culture of 8chan and a related website, 4chan. We break down the online networks used by far-right...


The people behind US political violence (Part 2 of 2)

Since the election of Donald Trump, there’s been a disturbing wave of street violence across America. The epicentre is Portland, Oregon, a place better known for its chilled out hipster lifestyle – but which has been the scene of dozens of far-right marches and rallies. Those events often result in arrests and violence. BBC Trending went there to meet two activists who have been on opposite sides of the fighting. Anti-fascist activist Luis Enrique Marquez and Rob Cantrall, member of the...


The people behind US political violence (Part 1 of 2)

There is a disturbing new wave of political street violence in America. Groups on the far right and the far left have clashed in New York, Berkeley, California, and Charlottesville, Virginia. But one liberal enclave is the main battleground: Portland, Oregon - a progressive city in the Pacific north-west. BBC Trending has visited Portland to meet two activists who have traded insults and threats online, as well as confronting each other in the streets. What drives anti-fascist Luis Enrique...


‘I hunt trolls’

After she got a death threat, Ginger Gorman dove headfirst into the world of trolls. It all started when she wrote a light feature about a gay couple who had adopted a child. Years later, the couple were arrested on child sexual abuse charges, and although she had no knowledge of their crimes, internet trolls swarmed to attack her – even sending her and her family death threats. Where some would run away and hide, Ginger became fascinated with the world of online trolling and spent five...


The hackers who cracked printers for PewDiePie

Recently, printers around the world started spewing out pages without any direction from their owners. Then a mysterious video showed up on smart TVs. Both hacks were designed to promote PewDiePie, the most popular vlogger on YouTube, in his battle to maintain subscriber supremacy against popular Indian channel T-Series. The hackers say they did it to expose the flaws and dangers in some connected devices, but they also got the attention of the YouTube star – as well as the authorities, and...


The man reporting on Africa’s most secretive state

There is no independent media in Eritrea, a country that ranks near the very bottom of press freedom indexes. But one man is trying to change his country’s repressive system. “J” is the editor of Eritrean Press, a Facebook page which is a mix of political reporting, satire, sport, and light features. It’s an almost unique development aimed at Eritrean readers both inside the country – where only around 1% of the population is able to access the internet – and the wider diaspora around the...


How the far right hijacked a murder

After 14-year-old Keira Gross was murdered in Berlin, the far right pounced. They spread rumours and misinformation online, blaming the crime on a Muslim immigrant from Chechnya who they dubbed “The Beast of the Caucasus”. One key activist, Lutz Bachmann of the anti-Islam group Pegida, even identified a boy who he said was the murderer, and posted his details with a link to his Facebook profile. However, there was a problem: the rumours were wrong. It emerged that Keira was not murdered by a...


Meet the Lawyer Fighting 'Revenge Porn'

Carrie Goldberg’s life changed when an ex-boyfriend threatened to post naked pictures and videos of her online. She was already practicing as a lawyer, but quit her job to start her own firm and give her clients - as she puts it - “the lawyer I needed when I was going through hell.” When she began in 2014, there were few laws against what is now known as “revenge porn” – the non-consensual sharing of explicit photos online. Now many countries and US states have passed anti-revenge porn laws....


Lessons from an Instagram Star’s Failed Tour

Caroline Calloway built a huge audience on Instagram by posting fairy tale pictures of life as a university student in England, mixing romance and adventure with a dash of personal revelation and grit. But she recently found herself on the receiving end of a wave of abuse after she cancelled a tour of “creativity workshops”. It’s prompted a discussion about influencers – social media stars who have a lot of cultural clout and can often make a lot of money. But what happens when they let down...


How an Online Video Shut Down a Multimillion Dollar Experiment

In June 2017 more than 70 children arrived at a university campus in Indiana, US. They were there to take part in a nutrition study that examined the effects of diet and sodium reduction on blood pressure and cholesterol in adolescents. But the experiment swiftly came to a halt when a video was posted online of what was going on at the Camp. As a result, the multi-million dollar nutrition study was terminated. We travel to the US to speak to the children who participated in the study, their...


Mystery Music ‘Forced’ onto Streamers

At the start of October some users of a music-streaming platform found that their accounts were playing songs against their wishes. Artists like the Bergenulo Five and DJ Bruej were streamed thousands of times, with Spotify users claiming the music was forced onto them. Apart from the listings on the streaming platforms, the musicians had next to no digital footprint on the rest of the internet - no fan pages, no concert listings and no photos of the actual band members. So who was behind...


What Do We Really Know About Russian Disinformation?

We meet investigators looking into social media manipulation and the people behind the Hamilton 68 project, which monitors suspected Russian accounts. Two reports recently prepared for US Senate investigators detailed extensive Russian efforts to influence major social networks. Trending travels to Texas to meet the people behind one of the reports at New Knowledge, a company that was involved in the development of the “Hamilton 68 dashboard” – a running tally of hashtags and other...


What Will 2019 Look Like on Social Media?

Russian pensions, football in Africa, jihadi propaganda – these are among the stories, trends, and conversations that are to shape social media in 2019. To find out more, Marco Silva talks to BBC colleagues who watch social media around the world. What stories and conversations will they be following online in the year ahead? Presenter: Marco Silva Sound engineer: Rod Farquhar Photo caption: a man holds a smartphone with the icons for various social networking apps seen on the screen. Photo...


The Best of Trending 2018

A look at BBC Trending’s highlights from the past year of covering social media. From America’s student anti-gun movement to the continuing noise made by #MeToo activists, social media played a huge role in some of the biggest political movements of the year. And of course the World Cup was drenched in tweets and hashtags - plus, we visit the gaming team with an average age of 67. All that and more, in our roundup of the year on social media as seen by BBC Trending. Presenter: Mike Wendling...


The YouTube Stars Selling Cheating - Update

YouTube has deleted thousands of videos after a BBC Trending investigation. Seven months after we initially broke the story of essay-writing services advertised by top YouTubers, we found that the problem is bigger than ever, and academic cheating companies like EduBirdie have now moved on to other platforms like Snapchat, Facebook and Google. After alerting the tech giants of our findings, YouTube and Facebook took direct action and removed some of the content promoting essay writing...


Do Instagram Hashtags Promote Eating Disorders?

Instagram’s search function does not always shield people at risk of eating disorders from seeing potentially harmful posts. A Trending investigation has found that although the site has filters in place to make the most obvious eating disorder-related hashtags unsearchable, misspellings allow people to navigate around the restrictions. And health warnings do not always pop up when users type in search terms that could lead them to some very extreme content. We hear from people who have...