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Killed Because of Fake News on WhatsApp

How a viral rumour on WhatsApp led to the lynching of two innocent men in Mexico. Ricardo Flores and his uncle Alberto were building a well. They set out to buy some supplies, but as it was a warm August day, they decided to take a break along the way. Within hours they were arrested and lynched – beaten and burnt to death by a ferocious mob. Rumours which spread on WhatsApp falsely accused the men of being child kidnappers. And before anyone could stop the residents of Acatlan, a small town...


The Truth Behind a So-Called 'Suicide Game’

Hundreds of suicides were linked to the Blue Whale Challenge – but what is the truth behind the claims? The challenge was described as an online game, where participants were given 50 tasks to perform over 50 days. A report in independent Russian news outlet Novaya Gazeta linked the game to 130 teenage suicides, and a 21-year-old man who was arrested in a case related to the challenge pleaded guilty and is currently in a Russian prison. But others are sceptical that the challenge can...


When The Faker Met The Fact Checker

The conclusion of our story about two men on opposing sides in the war against misinformation. Fake news writer Christopher Blair finds that the money is drying up because of Facebook algorithm changes, and he’s constantly being hunted by fact-checkers. Meanwhile in Belgium, Maarten Schenk gets a handle on viral misinformation and online lies. It seems like they would be natural enemies. So what happens when they get the chance to speak to each other? Presenter: Michael Wendling...


The Faker and the Fact Checker

Anisa Subedar meets two men positioned on opposing sides in the war against fake news. American Christopher Blair makes his living by making up online news stories, and Belgian Maarten Schenk is dedicated to debunking them. The two appear to be natural rivals, but is everything as it first seems? Presenter: Michael Wendling Reporter: Anisa Subedar (Photo: Fake News headline typed with a typewriter. Credit: Getty Images)


A ‘Manspreading’ Video And Russia’s Culture Wars

A protest against “manspreading” went viral in Russia – but is it Russian propaganda? Activist Anna Dovgalyuk denies that she staged a stunt where a woman was filmed throwing diluted bleach at the crotches of men whose legs were sprawled out over multiple seats on the St Petersburg Metro. But media reports suggested one of the men was an actor, and a European Union website has described the film as “staged Kremlin propaganda”. So, is it real or just a hoax? And how does it fit into a larger...


The Men Who Hunt Stolen Motorbikes

In Bristol, in the south-west of England, motorbike theft is rife, and criminals use social media to brag about their exploits and even extort money from their victims. But some bikers, sick of losing their treasured possessions, have started to take matters into their own hands. They’ve formed a Facebook group to try to hunt down stolen motorbikes. And using the tips from group members, they try to hunt down the stolen motorbikes and reunite them with their owners. But will their plan work?...


The People Who Remove Your Facebook Posts

They decide what you can and can’t see on the world’s biggest social network. Who are Facebook’s content moderators? We speak to a woman who worked in a moderation centre in Germany, often watching violent and pornographic videos and deciding what posts should be deleted. What do people who police content think of what support Facebook gives employees, and what are their daily working lives actually like? Presenter: Anisa Subedar Reporter: Jamie Bartlett Producer: Gemma Newby Studio Manager:...


The Truth Behind a Viral Murder Video

The BBC investigative team Africa Eye used open-source techniques to find out who was responsible for a shocking crime. In July 2018, a horrifying video began to circulate on social media. It shows two women and two young children being led away at gunpoint by a group of soldiers. The captives are blindfolded, forced to the ground and shot 22 times. The government of Cameroon initially dismissed the video as “fake news.” But through open-source investigation – examining details such as...


Can Social Media Help You Lose Weight?

Do dieting influencers and communities help or hurt when you’re trying to get in shape? If you’re trying to lose weight you might have tried out exercise tips and diet recipes you’ve seen online. Some find social media groups a useful source of support, but there are concerns that some of the advice might not be as healthy as it seems, and that social media celebrities are setting unhelpful and unrealistic body expectations. So how can you cut through all the noise, and which social networks...


Arrested for Saving Memes in Russia

Why are some Russians put on extremist watch lists for saving or posting memes online? Maria Motuznaya was investigated by police after saving edgy memes on her account on the social network VKontakte. They showed a character from the series Game of Thrones and smoking nuns, and in at least one case, a racial slur. She’s not alone. Maria and hundreds of Russians are being placed on an extremist watch list for using memes declared to be racist, offensive or against the Russian Orthodox...


Did Facebook Fuel Hate in Myanmar?

Facebook’s dream of a more open and connected world turned into a nightmare in Myanmar. Ethnic tensions between the Buddhist majority and the Rohingya minority had been simmering for decades when the country started opening up to outside business. The price of a smartphone SIM card dropped from around $200 to $2, and Facebook quickly became the app of choice. But despite multiple warnings, Facebook failed to control hate speech against Rohingyas, and had very few employees who could read...


The Influencer Business

Earlier this year, a baker in Liverpool in north-west England vented her frustration on Twitter over constantly being asked by social media influencers for free cakes. Laura Worthington tweeted: “I wasn't kidding when I said this happens a lot.” Many other businesses publicly sided with Laura Worthington on social media… but were they being fair? We investigate the impact of influencers – people with large and/or powerful social media followings. What are the rules and ethics around...


Virtually Making a Fortune?

Why are people spending real money to buy land that only exists in virtual reality? In the virtual world of Decentraland, users can build whatever they can imagine on their own plots of land. Some hope to make a profit by trading goods and services using the social platform’s own cryptocurrency. Could this be the birth of a new virtual economy or a cryptocurrency bubble waiting to burst? Presenter: Jonathan Griffin Reporter: Joanne Whalley Producer: Lee Kumutat Studio Manager: James Beard...


What is #QAnon?

Back in October 2017, an anonymous figure posted a series of cryptic messages on an online message board. The user, who signed themselves "Q", claimed to have top security clearance within the US government. Despite there being no credible evidence for the claims, “Q” has sparked a vast, endlessly-complicated pro-Trump conspiracy theory. The far-fetched story has since jumped from fringe message boards to the floor of a President Trump rally. We look at the story behind the mysterious “Q”....


Life As A YouTube Child Star

What’s it like to be a young YouTube star? Siblings Jaadin and Arabella Daho's lives have significantly changed since they went viral on YouTube in 2015. At just 10 and 11 years old their videos racked up 17 million views. They have since launched a YouTube career and are the main source of income for their family – their mum is their manager. But along with the money and fame has come abuse, both online and off. How has YouTube stardom affected these teenagers and their family? Presenter:...


The Sandy Hook Hoaxers – Update

An update on the people behind a paranoid conspiracy theory. Twenty-six people, mostly young children, died at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. They were the victims of a man named Adam Lanza, who killed himself after the slaughter. It was a shocking tragedy, even in a country used to regular gun violence. Soon false rumours began to circulate online, that the attacks were staged using actors. Although they had no basis in truth, hundreds of YouTube videos, blogs, and tweets repeated...


#MeToo: What’s Next? (Part 2 of 2)

We look at what lies ahead for #MeToo, the hashtag which became a world movement in October 2017. In the second of a two-part series, we have a panel discussion with Washington Post columnist Megan McArdle, author Kirsty Allison and gender justice specialist Natalie Collins. We hear from journalist and activist, Meghna Pant who describes an incident known as “eve teasing”, a common term used in some South Asian countries to encompass a wide variety of sexual street harassment. We also...


#MeToo: What’s Next? (Part 1 of 2)

What’s the future of #MeToo? In October 2017, the hashtag became a worldwide movement in the wake of allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein – who denies the charges against him. But what began as a fightback against sexual harassment and assault has now become a broader movement. And the hashtag and the campaign have been translated into dozens of languages and cultures around the world. In the first of a two-part series, we host a panel discussion with writer Kirsty...


Where Do Memes Come From?

They spread like wildfire, but where do they come from? This week, the world of memes. What goes viral online might seem random, but memes can be engineered and hacked to carry political messages. Trending talks to Gianluca Stringhini, associate professor at University College London. His team has been looking into fringe internet groups – they’ve found that some far-right websites and message boards have a disproportionate impact on the memes that spread on mainstream social networks....


The Silver Snipers

The booming global gaming industry is dominated by young people. But five pensioners who call themselves the “Silver Snipers”are proof of gaming’s wider appeal. Trending follows the team as they head to DreamHack, a professional eSports tournament in Sweden. Not only is gaming a hobby that connects them with their grandchildren’s generation, but it’s also helped them through some tough times in life. They’re keen to shoot their virtual enemies, and they have plenty of young fans, but can the...