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1 August 2014 Last updated at 07:44 ET

The rise of 'We are N'

With Isis militants still in control of Mosul in Iraq, Christians there are facing repression.

The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isis) took control of the city in early June.

Militants have marked Christian houses with the letter "N" in Arabic, to single them out for harsh treatment.

On social media, thousands have taken the symbol and reversed its meaning - using it to express solidarity with Iraqi Christians.

Produced by Alvaro A Ricciardelli and Anne-Marie Tomchak

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Poles eat apples to annoy Putin

Compilation of apple images on Instagram

An apple a day keeps the doctor away. And over the past day there's been a surge of people eating apples in Poland - but not for medical reasons. Poles have been posting images of apples on social media of as a way of protesting against Russia.

On Wednesday, Russia announced a ban on some fruit and vegetable imports - including apples - from Poland "for sanitary reasons". Polish food producers say the ban is politically motivated as a response to EU sanctions, a claim Russia denies. In response, Poles have been showing their support for local farmers by campaigning on social media. It started on Twitter when the journalist Grzegorz Nawacki shared an image of himself eating an apple and used the hashtag #jedzjabłka, which means "eat apples".

Tweet by Grzegorz Nawacki

"It's the most hurtful thing that could happen to Polish farmers. Over half of apples produced in Poland annually are exported to Russia." says Nawacki. "I thought the best way to help them would be to start eating more apples and drinking more cider. That way some of the apples will get consumed and people will show solidarity with farmers." The hashtags #jedzjabłka and #EatApples began trending on Twitter and within hours the humble Polish apple had become an internet meme. A Facebook page called Eat Apples to Annoy Putin is gathering some of the most popular parody pictures and has so far been liked almost 17,000 times.

The campaign has made national news headlines in Poland and the country's agriculture minister is among a number of politicians who've joined the campaign. One of the country's largest supermarket chains, POLOmarket, has also been actively endorsing the hashtag on its Facebook and Twitter pages. A special promotion on its website says, "POLOmarket joins the nationwide #jedzjabłka campaign to popularise the consumption of this great national fruit" and it features recipes where apples are a key ingredient. "I didn't expect it to become so big," Nawacki told BBC Trending. "Perhaps consumers realise they can shape and influence the reality."

Anger is growing in Europe over Russia's alleged relationship with Ukrainian rebels. The latest round of EU sanctions on Russia have been described as the toughest since the Cold War. Polish food producers have interpreted Russia's measures on Polish exports as the Kremlin hitting back. There are also reports that Russia may extend restrictions on food imports to the rest of the EU.

Reporting by Anne-Marie Tomchak

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The love story that's captivated Kenya

Sarika Patel and Timothy Khamala smiling

Kenyans on social media have been gripped by a love story between a Kenyan woman of Indian descent, and a man from the Bukusu ethnic group.

Kenyans on Twitter are in a distinctly lovey-dovey mood.

"A village Cinderella story," tweeted one woman. "Love beyond culture, colour, religion... simply amazing."

"This is like a movie. I can't believe what my eyes are seeing," wrote one man. And so it goes on...

Much of the discussion is on the hashtag #MyBukusuDarling, which has now been used more than 8,000 times.

The couple in question are Sarika Patel, 24, and Timothy Khamala, 25 who live in village in the Webuye area, in the west of Kenya. As well as race, there's a class element to their story. Patel is the daughter of a wealthy businessman, while Khamala is from a poor family who live in a simple mud hut.

They first met four years ago while he was washing her father's car. Sarika has just moved in with Khamala and they plan to get married, but her family are said to strongly disapprove.

"These are the kind of stories Kenyans love - they are tired of politics," says Lindah Oguttu, a news anchor at KTN Kenya, the TV station which first reported the story. "It stretches the parameters. It's a no-go zone - Indians do not marry blacks and blacks do not marry Indians," she says.

Start Quote

Why should it be headline news? We are all human beings”

End Quote Rasna Warah Kenyan writer

Oguttu was also the first to use the hashtag #MyBukusuDarling. An hour before the show, a number of senior editors met to discuss the top items on the programme, she says, and decided to create a special hashtag to encourage people to discuss the story. And it clearly worked.

Kenya saw serious inter-ethnic violence after the 2007 election, in which more than 1,000 people were killed. Many have interpreted the couple's love story in this light. "#MyBukusuDarling is a good example of our Kenyan dream. The Kenya we all want to live in. A Kenya of Peace Love and Unity," tweeted Phyllis Kandie, the cabinet secretary for East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism.

There are no up-to-date figures on how many people in Kenya are of Asian or Indian descent. Some estimates put it at around 100,000 out of an overall population of 42 million.

And some are somewhat nonplussed by the attention the story has got. "What is this obsession inter-racial relationships? Why should it be headline news? We are all human beings," says Rasna Warah, a Kenyan writer of Indian descent who is herself married to black Kenyan. "We have to move beyond the race thing - either you are Kenyan or you are not."

But, it seems, cultural differences may be playing a part in the story of Patel and Khamala. In Kenya, it is traditional for a man to pay dowry to a woman. Among Kenyan Indians, it is the other way around.

According to reports in the Kenyan media, Khamala's family have opted to take the Indian approach - asking Patel's family to pay. Some on social media have criticised this as "greedy" and an "embarrassment" to Bukusu society. One man suggested a compromise: "They should respect each other's cultures, so both should pay dowry."

Reporting by Cordelia Hebblethwaite

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The mysterious woman walking across the US

Some locals have called her a ghost, others have called her a prophet, but regardless of her true identity, a mysterious woman shrouded in black has left Americans spellbound as she travels by foot across the country.

This "woman in black," as she has been named on social media, has walked more than 1,000 miles, acquiring a loyal social media following.

One Facebook page has accumulated nearly 60,000 followers.

So who is the real "woman in black" and why is she walking from Alabama to Virginia?

BBC Trending went to West Virginia to meet the "woman in black".

Video by Annie Waldman and Franz Strasser

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending


David Duchovny is a national symbol in Russia

Fans of the US television shows "The X Files" and "Californication" know of the actor David Duchovny. But over the last few days, he has acquired a different type of stardom in Russia.

Duchovny took on a role in an advert for a Russian drinks company that celebrated the country's national identity.

With tensions between the US and Russia rising over Ukraine, Duchovny's name is trending in Russia.

Mukul Devichand of BBC Trending reports.

Video produced by Paul Harris.

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Unrepentant, Dawkins angers followers

Richard Dawkins

Bestselling author Richard Dawkins tried to rank types of rape on Twitter - and created a mini-firestorm.

He embraces controversy. His 1976 book, The Selfish Gene, re-examined Darwinian theory. One of his bestselling books is called, simply, The God Delusion. But Richard Dawkins is in the news this week because he wrote about rape on Twitter while trying to explain the nature of a logical argument.

On Tuesday BBC Trending reached him in Oxford and asked if he had anything to say about social media. He was concise on the phone.

"Bye-bye," he said - and hung up. He was more expansive on Twitter.

In a recent tweet, he wrote: "Date rape is bad. Stranger rape at knifepoint is worse." He added: "If you think that's an endorsement of date rape, go away and learn how to think."

Not everybody agreed.

One of his followers, The OSC, wrote: "[R]ape is a legal term, there are no degrees - I think you need to be more careful in your terminology, Richard." Meanwhile Meral Hussein-Ece, a member of the House of Lords, suggested that Dawkins "needs to take a vow of silence."

This kind of thing is nothing new.

Dawkins, shown with blogger Ariane Sherine and the Guardian's Polly Toynbee, in London in 2009 Dawkins, with blogger Ariane Sherine and the Guardian's Polly Toynbee, in London in 2009, likes a good fight

In 2011 an prominent female atheist made a video in which she discussed being propositioned at a secular conference. Dawkins responded in the comments of another blog with a satirical letter addressed to "Muslima".

"Your husband is allowed to beat you, and you'll be stoned to death if you commit adultery," he wrote in the letter. "But stop whining, will you. Think of the suffering your poor American sisters have to put up with."

That was a swipe at American women. He has chosen other targets.

In 2013, he wrote on Twitter: "All the world's Muslims have fewer Nobel Prizes than Trinity College, Cambridge. They did great things in the Middle Ages, though."

In the most recent incident, as usual, he stood behind his words - refusing to apologise and mocking his critics.

"What I have learned today is that there are people on Twitter who think in absolutist terms, to an extent I wouldn't have believed possible," he wrote.

It's nice to know that someone as smart as Dawkins is still finding out about the world.

Reporting by Tara McKelvey

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The women having a laugh in Turkey

Hazal Naz Besleyici Hazal Naz Besleyici doesn't want the government telling her whether she can laugh or not

Women across Turkey are posting photos of themselves laughing and smiling on social media. Why?

Women should not laugh in public. So said Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc in a speech on Monday about "moral corruption" in Turkey. "Chastity is so important," he said. "She will not laugh in public."

His comments have prompted a big backlash from women on social media in Turkey, with thousands posting photos of themselves laughing and smiling on Twitter and Instagram. There have been more than 300,000 tweets using the term "kahkaha" - the Turkish word for "laughter" - and on the hashtags "Resist Laughter" (#direnkahkaha) and "Resist Woman" (#direnkadin).

Many suggested the government should focus on issues like rape, domestic violence and the marriage of girls at a young age - rather than women laughing in public.

Ece Temelkuran Ece Temelkuran posted this photo to her Twitter page

"It was an extremely outrageous and conservative statement," says writer and political commentator Ece Temelkuran, who has almost one million followers on Twitter. She was among the first to tweet an image of herself smiling - and encouraged other women to do the same. "My whole timeline was full of women laughing - which was extraordinary, and kind of beautiful," she told BBC Trending.

On Instagram it was a similar story. "I'm free and whether I laugh or not is my decision," says 23-year-old Hazal Naz Besleyici who posted a photo of herself with a broad grin in response to the comments. "They should not interfere in our life," she told BBC Trending.

Many men in Turkey have joined in the criticism of the deputy prime minister. "Oh God, let this be just a joke," tweeted Fatih Portakal, a famous Turkish TV presenter. "If women can't laugh in public, then men should not cry in public," he added - a reference to the deputy prime minister's reputed propensity to shed a tear when listening to speeches by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

A composite image showing women laughing and smiling posted on Instagram Thousands of images have been shared on Instagram

Erdogan himself prompted a similar reaction in Turkey two years ago when he referred to abortion as "murder". Many women posted photos of their stomachs to social media, with the words, "My body, my decision."

The first round of the presidential election is due on 10 August, and among the hundreds of thousands of comments and images about women laughing, was a tweet from one of the contenders challenging Erdogan for the job, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu. Clearly seeing an opportunity to seize the mood, he wrote: "More than anything else, our country needs women to smile and to hear everybody's laughter."

In his speech, the deputy prime minister also called on men not to be "womanisers" and blamed TV shows for encouraging teenagers to become "sex addicts". While the general tide of opinion on social media was damning in response, he did get some support. One man tweeted to say Arinc was simply trying to uphold "moral values" that form "part of Turkish culture".

Reporting by Cordelia Hebblethwaite

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Using social media to fight against Ebola

Gloves and boots used by medical staff treating people with Ebola in Guinea Ebola has spread to Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria

West Africa is in the grip of the world's deadliest outbreak of Ebola, and many in the region are using social media to educate each other on the symptoms and prevention methods.

#FactsOnEbola has been trending in Nigeria, with many sharing ways to prevent contracting the virus. "Symptoms of Ebola typically include: weakness, fever, aches, diarrhoea, vomiting and stomach pain #FactsOnEbola" tweeted one man in Benin City.

"I started #FactsOfEbola this morning after having a conversation about the disease with friends," says Japheth Omojuwa, a Nigerian blogger with over 100,000 Twitter followers. "I have a civic responsibility to serve the public - my followers and my country," he told BBC Trending.

Across Africa, social media is used for campaigning, for example the recent #BringBackOurGirls campaign which highlighted the plight of the girls kidnapped by Boko Haram. But when it comes to a disease, isn't it the role of the authorities to help educate the public? Omojuwa admits he's not a medical expert, but says he's keen to spread as many facts as possible. "I think it's better to bridge the gap between ignorance and information," he says. Since he started the hashtag on Tuesday morning, it's had nearly 2,000 tweets.

Across the border in Ghana, people are scared, says Nana Boakye-Yiadom, a journalist with Accra-based Citi 97.3FM. The radio station started the hashtag #EbolaFacts and is tweeting out information about the effects of Ebola and prevention methods that can be used. That hashtag has also had just over 2,000 tweets. Ghana's Immigration Service has openly admitted that its personnel were "not well-equipped" to deal with the outbreak "let alone be in the position to hold anybody suspected of having the virus".

"The question everybody here is asking is 'What if it comes?' We are not prepared," says Boakye-Yiadom. "We have a huge following online and the perceptions on the street of Ebola are wrong. By tweeting out information we got the hashtag trending and people can now see the information around the disease." His colleague Mawuli Tsikata, who devised the campaign for the radio station says there isn't enough education about Ebola and the situation on the ground is frightening. "Ghanaians are big on social media and so we tapped into that. It's our role to educate the public," he says.

Reporting by Ravin Sampat

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China's 'David Letterman'

The comedian Brother Sway is often described as China's answer to David Letterman.

Based in the US, but originally from Beijing, Brother Sway gets millions of visitors to his blog every week.

He tells #BBCtrending about how social media is changing the nature of comedy in China and breaking boundaries.

And he reacts to the country's latest internet hit, a spoof video poking fun at North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un, which has since been removed from the Chinese site Tencent.

Video journalist Anne-Marie Tomchak

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Meet the 'Women Against Feminism'

Has feminism become unnecessary and irrelevant?

A movement of young women against feminism is growing online. They've been posting selfies on social media in protest against what they say has become a "toxic" movement.

It started on Tumblr, before moving to Twitter and Facebook. There's been a strong reaction from feminists themselves, who say their ideas have been misunderstood.

BBC Trending meets the women involved on both sides.

Video Journalist Greg Brosnan.

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Zayn Malik tweets support for Palestinians

Zayn Malik on stage

One Direction's Zayn Malik is the latest in a series of celebrities to tweet in support of Palestinians - prompting speculation about whether he, like other celebrities, will delete his comment.

Malik usually avoids politics and this tweet was as short as it could be. "#FreePalestine" he tweeted late on Sunday to his 13 million followers. It's been retweeted more than 150,000 times since then. #FreePalestine is one of the biggest hashtags used in relation to current conflict in the Middle East - used more than two million times in the past month. But there's arguably nothing more powerful than celebrity endorsement.

Many welcomed his two-word foray into politics. "One Direction's @ZaynMalik tweets #FreePalestine. Who needs Justin Bieber," was one tweet. "I am so proud of you," wrote another fan.

Zayn Malik's #freepalestine tweet

Many in Israel were not impressed however. "Please tell me this is just a nightmare," tweeted one of around 3,000 people using the specially-created hashtag #ZaynYouHaveFansinIsrael."You always made me smile but now u make me cry!!" tweeted another fan there.

There have also been a few hundred tweets on the hashtag #ThanksZaynFromIsrael - though many of these are sarcastic, rather than supportive. It's reported that he's also received a handful of aggressive and threatening tweets.

Zayn Malik is the latest in a relatively long list of celebrities who have tweeted to express solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza. His tweet is still there. But many others swiftly deleted theirs:

  • Two weeks ago, singer Rihanna tweeted "#FreePalestine" - only to delete the post just minutes later
  • Model Gigi Hadid also reportedly tweeted "#FreeGaza" and then deleted it
  • Basketball star Dwight Howard deleted his "#FreePalestine" tweet, and apologised, saying it was a "mistake". "I have never commented on international politics and never will," he tweeted
  • Amar'e Stoudemire of the New York Knicks reportedly posted an image on Instagram with the words "Pray for Palestine" and went on to delete it
An Instagram post from Amar'e Stoudemire with an image that says "Pray for Palestine" Deleted - but caught in a screengrab

Last week, US actress and singer Selena Gomez posted an image on her Instagram page with the words, "It's about humanity. Pray for Gaza." It prompted a number of insulting comments - "you have a nice place in hell waiting for you," for example - but also 650,000 "likes".

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The mystique of the 'child prodigy'

In recent weeks, 12-year-old Lauren Arrington has become an internet sensation.

Her school project on the invasive lionfish - in which she claimed to have discovered it could survive in fresh water - seemed to stun scientists, who celebrated it as groundbreaking.

But not all scientists were as thrilled with her "discovery", and accusations of plagiarism and academic hijacking soon emerged, as BBC Trending reports.

Video produced by Franz Strasser and Annie Waldman

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Trends of the week - in 60 seconds

What's been trending on social media around the world this week?

From mystery white flags and alien conspiracies, to the #JewsAndArabsRefuseToBeEnemies campaign, BBC Trending brings you some of the top trends - in 60 seconds.

Produced by Ravin Sampat and India Rakusen

Images courtesy of Getty, AFP, Thinkstock, AP

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.


The man serving life for marijuana

Jeff Mizanskey

Campaigners in the US are calling for the release of a man in Missouri serving a life sentence without parole for a marijuana offence. They are crowdfunding and using the hashtag #FreeJeff.

Jeff Mizanskey has been in prison for almost 21 years. For 20 of those years, no-one outside his friends and family had heard of his case. But in the past months, and weeks in particular, that has started to change.

More than 370,000 people have signed an online petition for his release. And now campaigners are crowdfunding to try to raise $21,000 (£12,000) for him - a symbolic $1,000 for each year he's been inside. They plan to spend the money raised on billboards, and a media campaign to raise awareness of his case.

In 1994 Mizanskey was found guilty of "possession and intent to distribute" cannabis. It was his third offence, and under Missouri's "prior and persistent drug offender" law, he was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

"He's been in prison since right after I was born," says Aaron Malin who's organising the #FreeJeff fundraising, and is director of research at Show-Me Cannabis, which aims to get marijuana legalised in Missouri. "He's never used the internet, or even held a cellphone... He's not familiar with the concept of Twitter - much less a hashtag," he adds.

Jeff Mizanskey

Over the past few years, the laws on marijuana have been relaxed in many parts of the US. It's been decriminalised for medical use in a number of states, and for recreational use in Colorado and the state of Washington. Set against this context, it's a "disturbing irony", says Malin that - barring clemency from the governor of Missouri - Mizanskey will spend the rest of his life in prison.

"It really resonated with people," says Ray Downs, staff reporter with the Riverfront Times, who was the first to write about Jeff Mizanskey's story. "It kind of blew a lot of people's minds... here in Missouri you'd be hard pressed to find people who say 'This guy should be in prison until he dies,'" he says.

Indeed most of those commenting on the story online are supportive of the campaign for Jeff Mizanskey to be released. "This man should NOT be behind bars. He has more than served the time befitting his crime," wrote one woman who donated to the fundraiser. But not everyone agrees. "A drug dealer is a drug dealer no matter the drug. He's right where he belongs," wrote another woman.

The office of the governor of Missouri told BBC Trending they're currently "reviewing the merits of a petition for clemency submitted by Mr Mizanskey". Across the US, there are a number of people serving life sentences for cannabis-related convictions.

Reporting by Cordelia Hebblethwaite

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

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Sexy selfies in support of IDF

A woman's stomach with the words "I love IDF"

A Facebook campaign has been launched which encourages women to submit sexy selfies to boost the morale of Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers.

The "Standing with IDF" page was launched on Wednesday and now has more than 12,000 likes. It includes dozens of photos of skimpily-dressed women, with "I love IDF" scrawled across their bodies.

The slogan expresses support for the IDF currently engaged in a major offensive against Palestinian militants in Gaza. The conflict has so far cost more than 800 lives, the vast majority Palestinian, and mainly civilians, according to the UN.

While the page has attracted a lot of support, it has also faced accusations of being in bad taste and been branded as "war porn".

"Outside of Israel, the IDF is presented as rough. We wanted a way to make the military look more romantic," the man behind the page, Gavriel Beyo from Tel Aviv, told BBC Trending. "Historically soldiers looked at pictures of women before battle for encouragement and this is a version of that."

Beyo says he has received thousands of photos from women around the world and has even had to ask friends to help with the site because it has become so popular. He also says he's received emails from IDF soldiers thanking him for setting up the page.

 Yafit Duer Yafit Duer's "I love IDF" photo

"I wanted to help make soldiers feel happy at a difficult time and to show a different side of Israel to the world," says Yafit Duer, an Israeli woman who lives outside Tel Aviv who submitted a photo to the site. Duer admits there has been criticism, with some believing the pictures show Israel in a bad light. However, she maintains the reaction to her picture has mainly been positive.

But many have expressed disgust on social media towards the site. "Facebook insanity! Israeli women posting nude to support IDF so disgusting!" tweeted one woman. Others have described the pictures as "war porn" and "patriotic smut". Some are calling for the Facebook site to be taken down.

Reporting by Laura Gray

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Do women need bigger parking spaces?

Special parking spaces for women in China, controversy over water in Detroit and Russians imposing their own sanctions on Western goods. Here are some of the trends we're keeping an eye on.

Female parking space in China

China's female parking spaces

"What takes up 12 parking spaces? 6 women drivers!" This is a sexist joke about the skills of female drivers but it pretty much sums up one of the talking points on Chinese and also international social media right now. A shopping mall in China has sparked controversy after allocating extra wide spaces for women. They're marked out in pink with the message "Ladies Only". They give about 11 inches (28cm) more room than the average space.

There's been a mixed reaction on the Chinese micro blogging site Sina Weibo. Some thought it was a good idea while others found it sexist and disrespectful. "Aren't men and women equal? There's March 8 International Women's Day. There are women's colleges. There are female-only compartments on trains. Now there's a ladies only parking space. Is it really equal?!" wrote one user.

Eat Russian

As the EU plans to widen sanctions against Russia, a hashtag which translates as #EatRussian is trending there. Western leaders have accused Russia of arming rebels in eastern Ukraine, and these groups are widely being linked to the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17. Russian social media users have responded to the prospect of fresh sanctions by urging people to eat home produce and avoid food from the West. "Down with Cola and burgers!" wrote one Twitter user. "I'm gonna have some borscht :)" tweeted another, despite the dish being originally from Ukraine.

Tweet from Russian about sanctions
Detroit water crisis

Water is trending in Detroit as the US city grapples with $89m (£52m) in overdue water bills. Last week those behind in paying their bills had their supply cut off. Officials have since put the action on hold to give customers time to come forward and prove they genuinely can't pay. The hashtag #DetroitWater was used more than 17,000 times in the past week. The internet is also being used to solve the problem. A new crowdfunding project called Turn on Detroit's Water matches those struggling to pay with donors who want to help.

What do you think about the idea of special parking spaces for women? Tweet us @BBCtrending. All our stories are at bbc.com/trending

Reporting by Anne-Marie Tomchak


Criticising Israel, avoiding anti-Semitism

A screengrab of the blog "How to criticise Israel without being anti-Semitic"

"How to criticise Israel without being anti-Semitic" - that's the title of a blog post that's being widely shared as the death toll in Gaza rises.

The blog begins like this: "If you've spent any time discussing or reading about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I guarantee you've heard some variation of this statement: OMG, Jews think any criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic!"

It includes 19 "tips" for anyone who wants to criticise Israel - mainly advice on what to avoid. For example: "Don't say 'the Jews' when you mean Israel," or "Don't say: 'I can't be anti-Semitic, I have Jewish friends!'" It warns against stereotypes, and "expansive language" - such as referring to Israelis as "bloodthirsty". The post also includes detailed discussion of the meaning of the word "Zionist" and much more.

It's been shared particularly widely in the past day or so, with many referring to Gaza and Israel. It's had more than 8,000 "notes" on Tumblr, and has been shared tens of thousands of times on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and elsewhere. But - though there's no date stamp on the blog - it's clear (from the date of some of the shares) that it was written well over a year ago. In short - as is quite common on social media - it's looped round and made a comeback.

The top countries sharing the blog on Twitter appear to be the US, the UK and Sweden. "100% required reading," was one comment. "So important right now," was another. Interestingly, it's not made much of an impact on social media in Israel. One of the few commenting there wrote: "If you're gonna be a liberal douche bag, here's 'How to criticize Israel Without Being Anti-Semitic."

There is no name on the Tumblr, and the author has - as yet - not responded to our request for an interview. From other posts on the blog, it's clear the blogger is an American convert to Judaism.

The blog also includes a counterpoint post, "How to Support Israel Without Being Racist", with a similar list of points to avoid. "Don't call Palestinians 'animals' or 'savages'," and "Don't say 'Arab' when you mean Palestinian," for example. It concludes: "If you expect Palestinians and their allies not to be anti-Semitic, you'd better extend the same courtesy and not be racist."

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies

As millions go online to share information about the Gaza conflict, a social media campaign calling for tolerance is building.

Jews and Arabs around the world have been sharing loving images of coexistence and using the hashtag #JewsAndArabsRefuseToBeEnemies in an effort to change the discourse online.

BBC Trending meets the people behind the campaign.

Produced by Anne-Marie Tomchak and Neil Meads

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending

All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


10 theories about the Brooklyn Bridge flags

A bleached US flag flies over the Brooklyn Bridge.

When New Yorkers woke on Tuesday morning they were greeted by the sight of two large white flags in place of the stars and stripes that normally fly over the landmark Brooklyn Bridge.

The news quickly became a national story, with more than 30,000 bridge-related posts on Twitter speculating about the meaning of the act and the parties responsible.

Much of the chatter was humorous, but one joke didn't end up that way. The Twitter account @BicycleLobby sent out: "Earlier today we hoisted two white flags to signal our complete surrender of the Brooklyn Bridge bicycle path to pedestrians."

The Associated Press and the New York Daily News picked up the story and reported it as a legitimate claim of responsibility, despite the fact that the tweeter's bio said it was a parody account. As the message received widespread coverage, @BicycleLobby tweeted: "If you believe we're for real, we have a bridge in Brooklyn we'd like to sell you."

On Wednesday morning, speculation centred on the Instagram user Last Suspect, who according to the New York website Gothamist, posted images of bleached white flags and photos taken underneath the Brooklyn Bridge, along with now-deleted comments insinuating involvement in the plot.

line
Finger of blame

(according to Twitter)

1) Hipsters

2) Anti-hipsters

3) Bicyclists

4) Gentrifiers

5) Jasper Johns

6) Triumphant Brooklynites

7) Humble Manhattanites

8) Surrendering French

9) Starbucks

10) Aliens? Yes, definitely aliens

line

Much of the theorising has focused on the white flag as a symbol of surrender. The words "Brooklyn" and "surrender" have been used together several thousand times on Twitter since the story broke.

But who was surrendering to whom?

It could have something to do with the oh-so-cool reputation of Brooklyn neighbourhoods. Among the possible theories were:

Hipsters protesting against the opening of a Starbucks in their midst.

Tweet

Brooklyn surrendering to "gentrifiers & trustfund hipsters".

Manhattan surrendering to the now trendier Brooklyn.

Others thought the whiteness of the flag was just a red herring.

Ben Williams tweets this could be the work of a famous flag-obsessed modern artist: "Looks like Jasper Johns has been climbing the Brooklyn Bridge."

And of course, no collection of internet theorising would be complete without someone raising the prospect of alien involvement.

New York Police officers climb the Brooklyn Bridge. The New York Police Department removed the offending flags and promises a full investigation

Politics crept into the conversation, as well.

"Today they put a white flag over Brooklyn Bridge," @FearDept tweeted. "Tomorrow we must prove them wrong - prove we don't surrender - by ordering new drone strikes."

Others took the opportunity to engage in a little egregious France-bashing.

And then there were those who decried the extensive media coverage of the flag incident when there were more serious matters going on in the world.

"Death and destruction in Gaza, Russia's invading Ukraine, but thank god the media is all over a couple of white flags on the Brooklyn Bridge," tweeted Eric Fastner.

New York police agree that this isn't a laughing matter and say they are conducting a full investigation.

Seven years ago, Boston was paralysed by an ill-advised viral-marketing campaign for a television show after police and city residents mistook "light-up" placards placed in public spaces for improvised explosive devices.

Although the white-flag incident hasn't prompted the same level of panic, 13 years after the 9/11 attacks on Manhattan, the response shows some New York nerves are still a little raw.

"Could this be a shot across the bow, letting the American public know just how vulnerable we still are?" writes Jennifer Van Laar of IJReview.

"This time it was a flag," blared the New York Daily News headline, "next time it could be a bomb."

Reporting by Anthony Zurcher

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Video teasing North Korean leader goes viral

A screengrab from the "Fat guy Number 3" video showing Kim Jong-un in a small fairground airplane The video has been watched millions of times on Chinese social media sites and on YouTube

A mash-up video poking fun at the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has been watched millions of times in China and around the world.

The video is cheekily named "Fat Guy Number 3" - a reference to the Kim family's supposed portliness - and, for three-and-half-minutes, it teases, and pokes fun at the North Korean leader (you can watch the video here).

It's made up of a series of animated GIFs in which Kim Jong-un's face is superimposed on all sorts of existing images. He's shown dancing, doing the splits, as a ballet dancer, with his trousers down, riding on the back of a pig - and many a surreal scenario in between. It's set to a catchy recent Chinese hit love song, Little Apple, by the Chopstick Brothers - which has been parodied a number of times, as well as being used in flash mobs in China.

A host of international leaders (or at least their superimposed heads) make appearances in the video too. US President Barack Obama is seen generally frolicking around in a light-hearted way. Russia's President Putin and the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also feature.

A screengrab from the "Fat guy Number 3" video showing Kim Jong-un dancing with US President Barack Obama President Obama and Kim Jong-un are shown dancing together in a number of scenes

The video appears to have been made by a Chinese man with 190,000 followers on Weibo - China's version of Twitter - who's been making Kim Jong-un GIFs for two years. Writing on his Weibo page, he said the video was "just for entertainment" and had no deeper political message. It was uploaded to the Chinese video-sharing site Tencent, where it's been watched more than 55 million times. YouTube is banned in China, but the video was later copied and uploaded there, and prompted a million views and comments from around the world. "Brilliant piece of mashup satire," wrote one person. "We, the people of China love this video, make part 2!" wrote another.

"It was very funny!" agrees Steve Tsang, head of the School of Contemporary Chinese Studies at the University of Nottingham. In general, he says, Chinese people see Kim Jong-un as "a cuddly, ridiculous man". That's in clear contrast to the official Chinese government line - though there are signs that support is weakening. "The Chinese government is always supportive of North Korea if the chips come down, but they are also fed up with the North Koreans," says Tsang.

A screengrab from the "Fat guy Number 3" video showing Kim Jong-un being hit on his backside by a missile Kim Jong-un's missile tests also come in for scrutiny in the mash-up video

Though the man who made it insists the video is not political, there are some scenes which appear to carry a message. In one, Kim Jong-un is seen holding Osama bin Laden's hand. In another, a missile he fires ends up hitting him on his own backside.

Reporting by Cordelia Hebblethwaite and Vincent Ni

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The six-year hair pulling selfie

A selfie project documenting a young woman's battle with a hair-pulling disorder has been watched over five million times on YouTube.

21-year-old Rebecca Brown from Essex took a photo of herself every day for six years to show how she'd been affected by trichotillomania - a condition which leaves a person feeling compelled to pull their hair out.

Brown has been on YouTube since 2007 and has almost 200,000 subscribers on her channels. She tells BBC Trending about how she uses social media to cope.

Produced by Anne-Marie Tomchak and Neil Meads.

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Dutch use black avatars in MH17 protest

A black rectangle Thousands have changed their profile picture to a black square

Many people in the Netherlands have changed their social media profile picture to a black square and are using the hashtag #BringThemHome.

Right across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, people have swapped their standard - often smiling - profile image to a black square. One-hundred-and ninety-three Dutch people were among the 298 people on board the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 when it crashed in Ukraine on Thursday. Many in the Netherlands are combining the gesture with a call for their fellow citizens' bodies to be repatriated as soon as possible.

The trend seems to have started on Facebook. The Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans was among the first to change his cover image on Facebook to a black background. Many friends and relatives changed their avatar to a black square.

The trend spread to Twitter and here it began to be used in combination with the hashtag #BringThemHome, which has been tweeted more than 7,000 times since the crash. "Last night, there was a big snowball effect where everybody started to put their avatar on black to express their grief," says Remco Janssen, a Dutch social media expert based in Amsterdam. Many feel the government in the Netherlands is not doing enough to get them back, he says.

A screengrab of eight Instagram profile picture on the hashtag #BringThemHome A black ribbon is also being used by some on Instagram and elsewhere

The hashtag has also been used in Australia, Canada, the UK and the US - all countries which lost citizens in the crash. In Australia, many shared the front page of the Sunday Times which ran with the headline "Bring Them Home".

But the hashtag is most widespread in the Netherlands, with its relatively small population of 16 million. "If you do the math, and six degrees of separation, everybody knows somebody who knows at least one person who was in the crash," says Janssen. "We all know somebody who was on the plane. So it's really heartfelt. Some people even said that this was our 9/11."

It's quite common for people to change their social media avatars to raise the profile of a cause, or to express grief. After Typhoon Haiyan, for example, many in the Philippines, changed their profile pictures to a black map of the country.

Janssen says he doesn't expect the hashtag, or the black avatars, to have much concrete effect. But he does believe that social media can help, in its own way, at a time like this. "Social media is like the village square... I think it has a big psychological effect on everybody to have this place to discuss - it feels like a place where everybody has a sense of joint grief."

Reporting by Cordelia Hebblethwaite

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The problem with sex education in India

India's new Health Minister has provoked outrage after declaring that so-called sex education should be banned.

Dr Harsh Vardhan has said his remarks were taken out of context, but it's inspired a group of satirists to made a spoof video about the standard of sex education in the country. The video has been watched over a million times on YouTube.

India has the world's largest population of young people aged between 10 and 19 - a total of about 243 million.

Anne-Marie Tomchak of BBC trending reports.

Video Journalist Paul Harris.

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Trends of the week - in 60 seconds

What's been trending on social media around the world this week?

From Nigeria to India and from beards to Silicon Valley - #BBCtrending brings you some of the best trends in 60 seconds.

Images courtesy of Getty, AFP, Thinkstock and Sarah Winward

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.


Facial hair goes floral

WATCH: Men explain their floral facial hair

Beards, the ultimate symbol of masculinity, are getting a floral makeover.

Men have been decorating their beards with flowers and plants and then sharing photos of their makeovers online. The earliest photos of these bearded men are from the seventies, like the one posted by Soup.io user Erial earlier this year. It is a photo of her father, taken by her mother in 1977.

About two years ago, Utah florist and hobby photographer Sarah Winward started decorating the beard of her husband, David, with flowers. She took a series of stills and posted them to her blog in January 2013.

Now flower beards are everywhere, and the idea of using your beard as accessory has taken off. The Tumblr "Will It Beard," in which a man tries to decorate his beard with everything from Lego bricks to cheese puffs, got 15,000 likes in a few days.

Sara Gold McBride, a Berkeley PHD student who is studying the connection between facial hair and power in history, describes it as a light-hearted protest against barefaced authority. The BBC spoke to her and to bearded men to get their perspectives.

Reporting by Anna Bressanin

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How it trended: The MH17 blame game

MH17

Since contact was lost with Malaysian airliner MH17, there has been claim and counter-claim on social media in Ukraine. Here's a timeline of what's been posted by whom.

There's been a lot of chatter on Ukraine's social networks since Thursday about who is responsible for the destruction of MH17 - the Malaysian plane carrying 298 people.

But the social media story really begins almost three weeks ago, on 29 June. Back then, a key Twitter account used by pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine claimed that they had captured a Buk surface-to-air missile system from the Ukrainian army. The tweet has since been deleted, according to BBC Monitoring. But this matters because Ukrainian officials later claimed that a Buk may have been used to shoot down the Malaysian Airlines plane.

Fast forward to the day the plane went down. Beginning at 13:50 GMT on Thursday, an account believed to be linked to a pro-Russian separatist leader in Ukraine, Igor Girkin (Strelkov), posted on the Russian social network VKontakte. He claimed that militants had shot down at least one Ukrainian military plane near the Donetsk Region town of Torez, possibly two. The post has now been deleted.

 Igor Girkin (Strelkov)

Shortly afterwards, pro-Kremlin TV channels started reporting that a Ukrainian plane has been shot down by rebels, calling it "a new victory of the Donetsk militia" in their broadcast.

Malaysian airlines has said it lost contact with its airliner at 14:15 GMT, 50km from the Russia-Ukraine border.

At approx 15:00-15:30 GMT, Twitter accounts in Ukraine began discussing a shot down plane. They first assumed this was a Ukrainian air force plane, but and soon news spread that a Malaysian plane had "crashed" in Ukraine near the Russian border. Later it was reported as having been "shot down".

Malaysia airlines

By 15:38 GMT, the blame game had begun in Ukraine. Russian news agency Interfax quoted rebel representative Sergey Kavtaradze as blaming "the Ukrainian side" for the Malaysian plane crash. "We simply have no air defence systems of this kind," he said. And at 15:59 GMT, Ukrainian news website Censor.net quoted a Ukrainian army source as saying the Malaysian airliner was downed by the Russians, not the Ukrainians.

By 16:00 GMT, #MH17 and #PrayForMH17 had become top Twitter trends in Malaysia and soon after, worldwide top trends.

malaysia tweet

By 18:00 GMT, pro-Russian accounts on social media in Ukraine began to distance themselves from earlier claims that they had downed at least one Ukrainian plane. "The information was taken from a local online chatroom where locals talk to each other," said a tweet from Strelkov Info, a key account used by pro-Russians in eastern Ukraine.

But at 18:04 GMT, the issue of the Buk surface-to-air missile came back. Ukrainian military journalist Dmytro Tymchuk used his website to report that pro-Russian rebels with a Buk were spotted in the Donetsk Region earlier in the day.

In Ukraine, Боинг-777 (Boeing 777) and #MH17 began to trend on Thursday night. In Russia, СУ-25 (Sukhoi Su-25 aircraft which is used by the Ukrainian armed forces) trended on Twitter in relation to a previous incident where an aircraft operating over Eastern Ukraine was claimed to have been downed by a rocket fired by a Russian fighter on Wednesday evening.

Today on social media, the information war continues. Leaders in Russia and the Ukraine continue to blame one another, as do the separatists. On Wikipedia, both sides are trying to portray their side of the story. According to the Global Voices blog, an IP address based in Kyiv edited the MH17 record to say that the plane was shot down "by terrorists of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic with Buk system missiles, which the terrorists received from the Russian Federation". But soon enough, that record was edited to portray a different side of the story. The same article reports that a Moscow IP address from a computer at VGTRK, the All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company, replaced the earlier edit with the sentence: "The plane was shot down by Ukrainian soldiers." The discovery was made by a Twitter bot that tracks anonymous Wikipedia edits made from IP addresses used by the Russian government.

Meanwhile in Malaysia, there is doubt that the truth will be revealed by either Ukrainian or Russian authorities. Malaysian Sports and Youth Minister Khairy Jamaluddin's call for the black boxes to be investigated independently was retweeted more than 11,000 times. I feel very, very strongly that the #MH17 black box must NOT be examined by either Russia or Ukraine," he wrote. "It must be returned to Malaysia."

Reporting by Mukul Devichand, Ravin Sampat, Tse Yin Lee and BBC Monitoring Kiev.

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The rise of Hitler hashtags

Hitler in 1939

A crop of Hitler-related hashtags has emerged on social media in the past week or so - what and who is behind this?

#HitlerWasRight, #HitlerDidNothingWrong, and - most recently - #IfHitlerWasAlive have all been doing the rounds on Twitter and Facebook over the past few days.

References to Hitler on social media are, of course, nothing new - in the past 12 months, "Hitler" has been used more than 10 million times on Twitter. But there's been a clear upsurge recently - related to both Germany's performances in the World Cup, and the Israel-Gaza conflict.

Start Quote

It's intended to inflame - to be grossly offensive”

End Quote Rabbi Kenneth Cohen Director, Vine & Fig Project

Taken together, these three hashtags have been used more than 15,000 times in the past week. As their titles would suggest, they include all manner of anti-Semitic vitriol. But a large chunk of the discussion is critics pushing back, and condemning those who've used it.

The hashtags seem to have begun to pick up during Germany's key games in the World Cup. For example: "I think the last time the Germans destroyed someone like that was WW2. #HitlerDidNothingWrong." Though he didn't use one of these hashtags, a Malaysian MP caused outrage when - in reference to Germany's 7-1 thrashing of Brazil - he tweeted: "WELL DONE..BRAVO...LONG LIVE HITLER..."

Some of the World Cup-related references to Hitler were probably intended as jokes - albeit bad ones. But the use of the hashtags soon took on an anti-Semitic turn.

As the Israel-Gaza conflict gathered pace, the hashtags then got picked up by some pro-Palestinians - though not, it should be stressed - among many Palestinians themselves. Indeed many Palestinians were vocal in urging people to stop. "Reprehensible" "bigoted" and "hateful" is how Yasmeen Serhan, a Palestinian-American student describes the #HitlerWasRight hashtag. "Such a trend has no place in Palestinian activism," she says.

The #HitlerWasRight and #HitlerDidNothingWrong hashtags have been used intermittently and it's hard to trace their origin. But with #IfHitlerWasAlive it's much easier to identify the source - it began trending as a result of a number of individuals in Pakistan.

As with the other hashtags, the condemnation was robust. "My guess is these are uneducated people," says Zohaib Nawaz Tarar, a Pakistani student and computer programmer now living in Spain who was one of many who tweeted his condemnation. "There is a group of people starting hashtags just to get them to trend. These are stupid people who don't know real facts."

A tweet condemning #IfHitlerWasAlive A large part of the discussion on the hashtags is people condemning their use

"It's intended to inflame - to be grossly offensive," says Rabbi Kenneth Cohen who also stepped into the Twitter conversation to condemn the comments being made. "It's also counter-productive - it reflects baldy on the people using that hashtag. It's not very bright."

"At a time when we should labouring to defuse the tensions, there are some people going out of their way to inflame them," he adds. Cohen believes the relative anonymity of social media means people feel free to say things that would be completely socially unacceptable in person.

That people make often entirely spurious comparisons to Hitler should not come as a surprise, says Mike Godwin, who back in 1990 researched what is known as Godwins Law of Nazi Analogies. In its simplest form, Godwins Law states that in any online discussion or forum, someone will - if it's left there long enough - eventually bring up Hitler or the Nazis. "It's the model of evil," in the Western world he says. If you want to escalate a debate "this is where you'll go".

Such references to Hitler have probably existed since before the internet, says Godwin. But the internet - and now social media - has magnified the phenomenon, making it much more visible.

Reporting by Cordelia Hebblethwaite

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Internet cancellation horror story goes viral

The outside of a Comcast customer service centre in California.

Ryan Block simply wanted to cancel his Comcast internet service

Instead of a short phone call with the company, however, his experience turned into a 20-minute ordeal, as Block and his wife were berated by a Comcast "retention specialist" who doggedly refused to accept the request.

"Help me understand why you don't want faster internet?" he repeatedly asked. "I'm trying to help you. You're not letting me help you."

Mr Block, a technology journalist who works for AOL, recorded the final eight minutes of the call and shared the audio with his 82,000 Twitter followers. The speed at which the clip went viral - the Soundcloud audio file had almost 4 million plays within two days - reflects that Mr Block is not alone in his frustration with major telecommunications providers.

The nameless Comcast employee took a fair amount of bashing on social media - he was called "psychotic" and "crazy and a little bit scary" and compared to a "condescending, needy ex-boyfriend from hell".

A tweet from Ryan Block.

When Comcast engaged in textbook public-relations damage control, however, apologising to the Blocks, laying the blame at the feet of the customer service representative and promising "quick action", the company became the focus of the internet's rage.

Maybe, commenters speculated, the pressure Comcast puts on its employees to do anything they can to prevent cancellation has created a culture that led to this particular worker's over-the-top hysteria.

A tweet from Comcast.

"I hope the quick action you take is a thorough evaluation of your culture and policies, and not the termination of the rep," Mr Block tweeted.

"Nice job throwing your rep under the bus," tweeted Peter Welch. "Doubt he wanted to be on that call any more than @Ryan did."

"As someone who works in a similar company, while that rep was excessively aggressive, we're trained and held accountable to do that," tweeted Fabian Cruz.

On Reddit, someone claiming to be a Comcast employee explained that retention representatives are compensated based on how many cancellations they prevent. If they fail to reverse at least 75%, they get nothing.

"These guys fight tooth and nail to keep every customer because if they don't meet their numbers they don't get paid," txmadison writes.

It's a sympathetic perspective that the Awl's John Herrman finds compelling.

"The customer service rep is trapped in an impossible position, in which any cancellation, even one he can't control, will reflect poorly on his performance," he writes. "By the time news of this lost customer reaches his supervisor, it will be data - it will be the wrong data, and it will likely be factored into a score, or a record, that is either directly or indirectly tied to his compensation or continued employment."

Comcast is currently attempting to obtain approval from the US government to merge with fellow telecommunications giant Time Warner Cable. But a monopoly-aspiring Comcast, staffed by belligerent customer service representatives, is just the sort of nightmare scenario some commentators are imagining.

"What happens when the same corporate financial goals and institutional pressures that encourage an individual service rep to go berserk on the phone are applied to a huge sector of the entire US economy?" asks Salon's Andrew Leonard.

"That's what so scary about this Comcast call - what we are hearing isn't just one guy losing it; it's the howl of unrestrained market forces, red in tooth and claw. Give a company monopoly power, and it's the only sound we'll hear."

Reporting by Anthony Zurcher

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'Self-drenching' craze in deaf community

The "cold water challenge", "water-tipping" - call it what you will, there's a new craze in the deaf community.

The trend for dropping a bucket of water over your own head was started by non-deaf people but it has recently been appropriated by a close-knit network of deaf people in the UK.

BBC Trending reports on how tipping water on yourself - and posting a picture or video of it - has spread like wildfire between deaf friends on social networks.

Video Journalist Paul Harris

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Hamas 'the enemy' says Egyptian hashtag

Gaza's Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh Ismail Haniya led the former Hamas government in Gaza

A highly-charged discussion is taking place on social media in the Arab world - especially in Egypt - on the hashtag "The Enemy's Name is Hamas".

Coming several days into a surge in fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza, which is dominated by Hamas, there's no doubt that this hashtag is provocative.

العدو_اسمه_حماس - which translates as "The Enemy's Name is Hamas" - has been used sporadically over the past 10 months, but has spiked over the past week, with more than 5,000 tweets, and a heated discussion on Facebook. Some slam Hamas as "terrorists". Others express shock at the tenor of the discussion.

The hashtag has been used most widely in Egypt, and gathered pace after rocket attacks in the Sinai peninsula at the weekend in which seven Egyptian civilians and a soldier were killed. Ansar Beit al-Maqdis - a jihadist group which is linked to al-Qaeda - is suspected of being behind the attack.

Many were clearly angered. Israelis are "warning people in Gaza before they hit them, while we are being killed in our country and our homes," tweeted Asia Omar a blogger who describes herself as someone who "loves the army and hates the Muslim Brotherhood". Others chimed in in a similar vein.

The Egyptian authorities launched a crackdown on the Brotherhood after the military overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi a year ago. Since then, public opinion in Egypt has hardened against the Islamist movement. Attitudes towards Hamas - an offshoot of the Brotherhood - have also become more negative inside Egypt. The government in Cairo considers the group a threat, accusing it of supporting militants in the Sinai and of being involved in a terrorist plot with Morsi and Hezbollah. Hamas has vigorously denied both allegations.

But some in the Arab world have expressed shock at the level of condemnation of Hamas and have been equally firm in their response. "I am really speechless," tweeted Palestinian activist and writer Sabir Alian. "When I saw this hashtag... I logged on passionately to respond, thinking that the Zionists are the ones who created it, but I am shocked to find out that Egyptians have done it instead!"

Many in Egypt have also condemned the hashtag, and one Saudi Twitter user tweeted: "The enemy is the one who created this hashtag - the one who stands with the Jew against the Muslim."

Reporting by Doaa Soliman and Cordelia Hebblethwaite

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Should 'jerk tech' apps exist?

A backlash against Silicon Valley and the tech culture there has been gaining momentum in recent days.

It centres on the complaint that the tech community is focusing on creating apps that exploit loopholes in public systems for personal and financial gain.

Monkey Parking was one of those targeted. It allows users to sell public parking spots in San Francisco and got a "cease and desist" letter from the city.

Another was ReservationHop, which enables users to sell reservations in a restaurant without giving the restaurant any cuts.

So what should be the etiquette for apps and start-ups today?

The BBC spoke to the man behind #jerktech, Josh Constine from Techcrunch.

Video Journalist: Franz Strasser

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Iran's washing-up liquid protest

A piece of graffiti in Iran that's been widely shared, which shows a woman in an Iranian national shirt who is holding up a bottle of washing up liquid

A striking piece of graffiti in the heart of Iran's capital Tehran has been widely shared on social media. It shows a woman holding up a "World Cup" in the shape of a washing-up liquid bottle. What does it mean and why has it struck a chord?

Black Hand is sometimes referred to as "Iran's Banksy". It's unclear whether it's a man, a woman, or a group of artists behind the work, but the graffiti keeps springing up around the Iranian capital.

And one Saturday morning at the end of June, Tehranis woke up to the image of a woman in the national team kit, holding aloft in her soapy gloved hands a bottle of washing-up liquid. The image has been captured and shared thousands of times on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram - not only because of its prominent positioning in the main street in Tehran, Vali Asr, but also because it clearly struck a nerve.

"Every morning, I get up and one of the first things I do is log onto my Facebook… and as soon as I went in, this image was all over my feed," says @Pedestrian, an Iranian student who lives between the US and Iran and who does not want us to use her real name. "I think it was a timely piece of art. It brought the World Cup, the stadium issue and the feeling of being a woman in Iran together."

As we've reported on this blog before, despite repeated protests, women have long been banned from watching football matches in stadiums. In 2012, that ban was extended to volleyball games too - and with the World League currently under way, many Iranians are not happy.

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"It's very cruel, it's unbelievably cruel. Why would you not let them in?" says Sarah Ahari, who played basketball for Iran's national team for three years and works for Small Media, which aims to improve the flow of information between Iran and the rest of the world. "Imagine, Iran is competing in Tehran, and Brazilians and Italians can bring their wives into the stadiums. And Iranians cannot. And you are hosting the match."

As elsewhere in the world, graffiti is illegal in Iran, and the original version of the woman with her washing-up liquid bottle was soon painted over in red paint. Some say it was by the state - others speculate it could have been done by Black Hand, as a further artistic gesture. Eventually it was buffed out completely.

A piece of graffiti by Black Hand covered in red paint

But the image lives on in social media and is still being shared. "Street art is always political. It's in the street, talking with the people for the people," says SOT - one half of the Iranian graffiti team ICY and SOT who now live in the US.

"It's good that through social media everyone could see that. Some people maybe didn't have any idea about what's happening with women and sport in Iran. But maybe after seeing that piece they'll go and search and find out what's going on there. It's very important."

Reporting by India Rakusen

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In numbers: The World Cup on social media

The World Cup 2014 saw more people sharing comments, pictures and videos over social media than any other event in history.

On BBC Trending, we've been looking at key matches, trends and memes. But here's more detail on the numbers that tell the story of World Cup 2014 on social media:

Most tweets from a single event
Twitter most-discussed event

The most talked-about game of the World Cup was not the final, but Brazil's 7-1 defeat by Germany in the semi-finals.

On Twitter it attracted 35.6m tweets during the game. The figure is a Twitter record for the most-discussed single sports game ever. Only the World Cup Final came close with 35.1m tweets.

Before the World Cup the most tweeted about event was the Superbowl XLVIII in 2013 that saw 24.9 million tweets.

Record number of tweets per minute

The most tweets per minute came during the World Cup Final. The one-nil result saw 618,725 tweets per minute - another record for the social network.

This beat the previous record set in the Brazil v Germany semi-final when Sami Khedira scored the fifth goal for Germany before half-time with just over 580,000 tweets per minute.

Billions of interactions on Facebook
Facebook 1 billion interactions

Sporting events tend to generate high levels of chatter on Facebook, but the World Cup has been exceptional. It created the largest conversation for any event in history.

During the second round there were a billion World Cup-related posts, comments and "likes" - with 220 million Facebook users involved.

According to Facebook's data editors at the time, they had never before had an event - sporting or otherwise - reach the figure of a billion interactions.

By the end of the World Cup, social engagement on Facebook pushed the overall figure to three billion interactions, involving 350 million people.

The most popular conversations were around the World Cup Final with 88 million people generating 280 million interactions - making the game the single most talked-about sporting event in Facebook history.

Google's most popular searches

There were over 2.1 billion World Cup-related searches on Google.

The most searched players worldwide during the tournament were Brazil's Neymar Jr at number one, followed by Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, then Argentina's Lionel Messi.

Neymar Jr was in third place, but after his back was injured and he was ruled out of the rest of the World Cup, there was a spike in searches. His search volume increased 10 times his average on the day of his injury and he has been the most searched player ever since.

Many also used Google to search for particular goals. Top of the list was the Netherlands' Robin van Persie flying header against Spain, then Messi's against Iran, and next was Colombia's James Rodriguez against Uruguay.

The most searched matches were topped by the goal fest between Brazil and Germany, second was the Netherlands' 5-1 win against the then current champions Spain, and third was the knock-out game where the USA's dream ended with a 2-1 defeat against Belgium.

Google Trends graphic

Reporting by Andree Massiah


Is #Jadapose a social media low?

Some jeans hanging on a line at a protest againt rape and sexual assault at the University of California Los Angeles A recent protest against sexual assault and rape at the University of California Los Angeles

A sad but common story about a sexually assaulted teenager took a cruel turn in the past few days. Now online activists are striking back.

It has become a frustratingly familiar tale. A girl is drunk and maybe drugged at a party, only to find out later that she was sexually assaulted - and that evidence of her assault is all over social media. It happened in Steubenville, Ohio. It happened to a student of Virginia's James Madison University. And now, a 16-year-old girl in Houston is saying it happened to her.

Only this time, the photo of her passed out and naked from the waist down hasn't just circulated on Twitter and text messages. It's become a meme.

Jada, who has identified herself only by her first name, went to the news media to tell her story after the photo was widely circulated among her peers.

"There's no point in hiding," she told Houston's KHOU news. "Everybody has already seen my face and my body, but that's not what I am and who I am."

tweets about #JadaPose Most tweets using the hashtag criticise the meme

The day the report aired, #jadapose was trending on Twitter in Houston. It's been used more than 30,000 times since across the US.

The hashtag was attached to photos of people replicating the shot that Jada says is evidence of a crime. (The Houston police are investigating the original incident.)

One user made a Vine video, singing an improvised song over a photo of three men replicating the pose. It has been retweeted over 100 times. In a separate tweet, and after some criticism, that user wrote: "If you don't know what really happened don't comment on it."

But there are only a few examples of the mocking photos left on Twitter and Instagram. Instead, the hashtag now attracts thousands of messages denouncing the meme.

A search for the hashtag #Jadapose is more likely to bring up a new kind of photo - women posing with their arms flexed, a measure of solidarity and a message to Jada to stay strong. There are also several hashtags - #StandWithJada, #Jadacounterpose and #JusticeforJada - promoting an anti-rape message.

Reporting by Kate Dailey

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World Cup Final: Social media reacts

Germany celebrates Bastian Schweinsteiger and Lukas Podolski of Germany celebrate with the World Cup trophy

The World Cup 2014 final has broken social media records on Facebook. The match between Germany and Argentina generated the highest level of conversation on Facebook for a single sporting event. 88 million people had more than 280 million interactions on the platform during the game. That's even bigger than last year's Super Bowl which resulted in 245 million interactions.

On Twitter, it wasn't quite the biggest game in history. Germany's previous match - the 7-1 win over hosts Brazil - was still talked about more. 32.1 million tweets were sent during the final compared to 35.6 million tweets during Germany v Brazil, according to Twitter Data.

Twitter data Goalscorer Gotze and Golden Ball winner Messi were most talked about

As the German team claimed victory, it celebrated on its official social media pages. A photograph of the team with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel was collectively liked more than 250,000 times on Facebook and Instagram just hours after being posted. "That is it! WE'VE DONE IT!!!!" tweeted Team Germany "We are the #2014WorldCup winners! Amazing!!!!." Deutschland ist Weltmeister - Germany are the World Champions - trended worldwide shortly after the final whistle. One of the biggest hashtags of the day was #WorldCupFinal which was used more than a million times in the space of 24 hours.

Angela Merkel celebrates with team Germany

Players also used social media to share their reaction. "Don't ever let somebody tell you, you can't do something. Believe in your dreams - here, today and all over the world," tweeted Germany midfielder Mesut Ozil. Ozil also sent a thank you tweet to the singer Rihanna who made no secret of the fact that she was supporting Germany. Rihanna has been a prolific tweeter throughout the tournament and posted a series of pictures of her celebrating in the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro where the final took place.

Rihanna tweet

During the game itself, the conversation online varied from discussing the offside rule following Argentina's disallowed goal to debating concussion after Germany's Christoph Kramer was substituted after hitting his head. The English player David Beckham also trended in Argentina and Germany after being pictured with his sons wearing the Argentina kit. Fans were delighted to see their favourite player endorsing the Argentinian side and tweeted "Los Beckham" more than 29,000 times in a display of approval.

David Beckham at world cup

In the days leading up to the game, the fact that both Germany and Argentina have living popes was not lost on social media. Parody images of "Pope v Pope" claimed the end result would be decided by the man upstairs, and humorous captions continue to be added to images of the popes praying.

Popes Benedict and Francis

And despite the obvious disappointment, Argentina's fans were keen to show their loyalty and gratitude. Positive hashtags #HeroesArgentinos (Argentina's Heroes) and #ArgentinaCampeonBrasil2014 (Argentina Brazil 2014 Champions) trended worldwide after of the game as people paid tribute.

Heroes Argentinos

The most searched players on Google during the tournament were Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Google statistics also show that the most searched World Cup memes were about Luiz Suarez, Tim Howard and Arjen Robben, all of which you can watch back here in this BBC Trending video.

Reporting by Anne-Marie Tomchak


The best World Cup memes

It's been a World Cup jam packed with internet memes - humorous images and catchphrases often shared on social media.

The 2014 tournament has smashed social media records with some of the highest numbers recorded on Facebook and Twitter, and that means there have been more memes than ever too.

Which meme was your favourite? To help you decide, the #BBCtrending team brings you some of the best.

Produced by Neil Meads and Anne-Marie Tomchak

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All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


Trends of the week - in 60 seconds

What's been trending on social media around the world this week?

#BBCtrending brings you some of the best trends - in 60 seconds.

Images courtesy of Getty, AFP and Thinkstock

You can hear more from the BBC Trending team on BBC World Service every Saturday. You can subscribe to the free podcast here.


Paying for the air you breathe in Venezuela

Passengers at Maiquetia International Airport "That will be $20 'breathing' tax please"

The biggest international airport in Venezuela is charging a fee for the right to inhale clean air - and social media users are not happy.

We're used to a seemingly endless range of taxes and surcharges when we fly - passenger taxes, departure taxes, fuel levies. But Maiquetia International Airport in Caracas has taken this a step further - passengers flying out now have to pay 127 bolivars tax (£12; $20) for the air they breathe.

This is to cover the cost of a newly-installed system which uses ozone to purify the building's air conditioning system. A press release from the Ministry of Water and Air Transport says it's the first airport in South America and the Caribbean to use the technology, which it claims will eliminate bacterial growth to "protect the health of travellers," as well as deodorizing and sanitising the building.

But with tickets out of the country already expensive and scarce because of Venezuela's economic crisis, many on social media have responded to the tax with both humour and outrage.

Radio presenter Daniel Martínez tweeted: "Could you explain to me the ozone thing in Maiquetia? The toilets don't have water, the air-con is broken, there are stray dogs inside the airport, but there's ozone?"

A screengrab of the headline and picture about the "breathing" tax on El Chiguire Bipolar

"Soon we will be charged for the 'good gas'" was another tweet - a rueful reference to the tear gas that the police often use on opposition protesters. The satirical news blog El Chiguire Bipolar ran the headline: "Maiquetia Airport unveils robot that puts you upside-down and takes your money."

Some Venezuelans on social media fear the tax could end up being a new source of corruption. Others see it as evidence of how short of cash the airport is. Most international airlines have reduced the number of flights to the country because of a financial dispute with the Venezuelan government.

Depending who you ask, the tax is funny, infuriating, or just one more surreal aspect of a country that has the biggest oil reserves in the world, yet at the same time has shortages of toilet paper and sugar.

Reporting by Daniel Pardo

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The boy who smiled for Brazil

Photo of Tomaz smiling before the game

An image of a boy crying during Brazil's 7-1 defeat to Germany in the World Cup semi-final has captured the attention of the world - even prompting his father to respond with a picture of him smiling before the game.

As Germany was piling on the goals on Tuesday, cameras showed an inconsolable Brazilian boy in Mineirao stadium shedding tears into his drink, barely able to breathe and hiding his face behind his hands. The boy's copious weeping quickly went viral in Vine videos, GIFs and tweets, on a record breaking day for social media.

Tweet featuring photo of crying boy. Text reads "I hope the crying boy, whose picture is now around the world, can laugh about this one day."

"Seeing a weeping child broke my heart. I wonder if Brazil would've put more effort if they saw that boy's face," was one tweet. "Not a soccer fan but teared up when they showed that little boy hysterically sobbing after a goal... Brazil win for that weeping child," was another.

Stunned by the global reaction, the boy's father - Raphael Sardinha - has uploaded a picture on Facebook showing young Tomaz smiling before the game. "After seeing my son's crying in various national and international media outlets, I decided to post this photo," he wrote.

"I'll repeat what I told Tomaz, as he sobbed after Germany's fifth goal: this is just a game. It tears us apart, but it is only a game," he added. "It is sad, as a father, to see my son suffer like this. But certainly it is not the last time, and it won't be his last World Cup. With his good skills and left foot, maybe one day he will become a player and score seven goals against Germany."

He also raised concerns about the intense media coverage his son was getting, saying that the boy's weeping "belongs to himself only" - not to the world's media. "What remains is a reflection on how a child's sincere crying represents us all in an age of excess information, instantaneous emotions and artificial feelings."

Despite his concerns, Tomaz has featured in TV interviews in Brazil. "When I got to the stadium, I was quite positive that Brazil would win 1-0, but it would be hard, because the team is not good," he told Globo TV. "It took me a while to believe Brazil was losing 4-0, I thought it was a nightmare."

Reporting by Daniel Gallas

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Race at issue in first lady comparison

A widely shared image of Michelle Obama and Jacqueline Kennedy

On the left is a black-and-white photo of Jacqueline Kennedy, wife of President John F Kennedy. She sits at what appears to be a formal dinner table, wearing a dark dress and a pearl necklace. The lighting casts a shadow on her face, creating a mysterious allure.

The colour photo on the right is of First Lady Michelle Obama cheering at a basketball game. She leans to the left, eyes squeezed shut and mouth wide. Her right arm is raised, armpit exposed. She's in a blue tank top and a skirt that looks like a paint-splattered artist's smock.

Superimposed on the photos in stark white text: "What Happened America?"

The right-leaning website Human Events posted this image to its Facebook page on 18 June, and it has received more than 25,000 shares and 7,000 likes.

The picture reflects a consistent line of attack from conservatives who contend that Barack Obama has diminished the presidency. What happened? Nothing good, is the implied answer. The fact that Kennedy was a Democrat as well seems to make little difference.

In the more than 2,700 comments on the post, the conservative-liberal divide in US politics is set in sharp contrast.

"Jackie had a grace, elegance and humility that our current first lady doesn't have," writes Niki Tshibaka.

"No class, doesn't know how to dress even though we're paying someone to dress her, can't shave under her arms, thinks she's a TV star," writes Brenda Bennett.

A photo of Michelle Obama at a White House formal dinner Michelle Obama in more formal attire

"What I see here is FREEDOM (in many ways)," writes Kim Hunt. "Freedom to stand, be seen and heard, freedom to be herself."

"Mrs Obama is a real woman who tackles real issues like the health of children and education," writes Jean Reynolds.

Caustic political debates are nothing new in US politics, notes first lady historian Katherine Jellison, but Ms Kennedy was more insulated from the fray.

Jacqueline Kennedy swims with her daughter during an Italian vacation in 1962. During the Kennedy administration, government officials had greater control over candid photographs of the first lady

"The kind of image control that the Kennedy family was able to exercise just isn't possible anymore," the Ohio University professor says.

The irony is that Ms Obama is one of the more popular first ladies of modern times. While her two predecessors saw their favourability ratings decline during their husbands' terms in office, Ms Obama's approval has held steady around 68%.

Jellison adds that the real revelation from the Facebook image is how white and black women are portrayed in US society. Ms Kennedy is "demure and deferential", while Ms Obama is "boisterous".

"Ideas about African-American women being more assertive, speaking louder, all of those stereotypes are very much coming into play here," she says.

Reporting by Anthony Zurcher

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Why is Chuck Norris trending in Argentina?

Chuck Norris talking on the phone

Chuck Norris is trending in Argentina after the country's World Cup semi-final victory against Holland. So what has the US actor and martial artist got to do with football?

Famed for being the ultimate action man, Chuck Norris has inspired long lists of 'facts' about what a tough guy he is. The lists have been entertaining people for years.

Now Argentina midfielder Javier Mascherano is getting the Chuck Norris treatment on social media after he played strongly despite sustaining a head injury early in the game. The hashtag #maschefacts is being used with posts to describe all of the awesome things Mascherano can do.

Chuck Norris and Mascherano

"Voldemort is afraid of Mascherano's name. #maschefacts" wrote Matty Benavides, referring to the evil character in the Harry Potter books by JK Rowling. Another by Pablo Nicolás said "If you try to draw blood, the needle bends #maschefacts."

Instagram image Mascherano even took on Morgan Freeman's role as God in Bruce Almighty

Chuck Norris is regularly spoken about on social media, especially in the US. But in the past day over half of the tweets about him have been from Argentina. There have been 44,000 #maschefacts posted on Twitter in the past day. Here's a selection:

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  • When Mascherano was in Liverpool he travelled back in time and taught the Beatles how to sing.
  • Mascherano opens an Oreo cookie and the cream stays on one side.
  • Mascherano takes the train in rush hour and always gets a seat.
  • Chuck Norris beats everyone. Except Mascherano.
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Concussion tweet

Not everyone on social media thought it was a sensible idea for Mascherano to continue playing after the head clash which left him visibly groggy. Thousands criticised the speed with which he was back on the pitch and questioned how effectively FIFA's protocol on concussion was enforced.

Taylor Twellman tweet

Many sports doctors, pundits and physiotherapists gave their opinion online including former US Major League Soccer player Taylor Twellman. He shared his personal experience of how an injury ended his sporting career and was critical of FIFA. Unsurprisingly, around one third of the conversation about Mascherano and concussion came from the US where it's a hot topic in the NFL.

Reporting by Anne-Marie Tomchak

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Brazil thrashing breaks Twitter records

A Brazil fan holds her head in despair during the semi-final defeat to Germany

Brazil's 7-1 defeat to Germany in the World Cup semi-final has broken social media records.

The match was the most discussed sports game ever on Twitter, according to the company - with more than 35 million tweets. On Facebook it was a similar story. The match triggered the highest level of conversation on Facebook for any single World Cup game so far. More than 66 million people had over 200 million interactions and host nation Brazil dominated about a quarter of the global conversation.

Social media users almost couldn't keep up with with the rate at which Germany were scoring goals. Twitter Data shows there were a record number of tweets posted per minute - the peak being when Sami Khedira scored Germany's fifth goal of the match. At that point 580,166 tweets were posted per minute.

A tweet from @TwitterData which reads: "With 35.6 million Tweets, #BRA v #GER is the most-discussed single sports game ever on Twitter #WorldCup

Unsurprisingly people used social media to share their feelings about the game - be it shock, dismay, delight, elation, or hysteria. It was a rollercoaster of emotions for both sides. Images and videos showing Brazilian fans in tears were widely shared on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Vine. During the match parody pictures of well-known landmarks were doing the rounds and had become a meme by the final whistle.

A Trendsmap screengrab showing tweets around the world 70 minutes into the World Cup Brazil Germany semi-final This is how the Twitter chat around the world looked 70 minutes into the game

Along with heavy condemnation of their team's performance, Brazilians used Twitter to reflect on the situation and display national pride. #WeStillProudOfYouBrazil was trending after the game with more than 37,000 tweets. And it seems that the team's acting captain David Luis still has the unwavering support of Brazilian Twitter. The hashtag #DavidOBrasilTeAma (David Brazil loves you) was the top trend in Brazil, and has been tweeted more than 175,000 times.

Reporting by Anne-Marie Tomchak

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'I'm single because of the bus'

Iacopo Melio holds up a sign saying "#VorreiPrendereilTreno", which means "I would like to take the train"

A student has sparked a trend calling for better access to public transport for people with disabilities in Italy. He - and many others - are using the hashtag #VorreiPrendereilTreno, or "I Would Like to Take the Train".

Italians across the country are sharing photos of themselves holding signs saying, "I Would Like to Take the Train". These include people with disabilities and without.

A photo posted from the Twitter handle @lorellaranconi showing a woman holding a #VorreiPrendereilTreno sign

"This is not my battle, but a battle for everyone," 22-year-old student Iacopo Melio told BBC Trending. Melio, who lives near Florence, started the trend a little over two weeks ago when he happened to see a tweet from Italy's former Education Minister Maria Chiara Carrozza.

In that tweet Carrozza wrote about the "magnificent" early morning train she was on, together with the hashtag #ITakeTheTrain. Melio replied, explaining how difficult it is for people with disabilities to take the train, because so few are accessible. He included the hashtag #VorreiPrendereilTreno, which translates as "I Would Like to Take the Train". It's been used almost 5,000 times since.

A photo posted by the Twitter handle @fabri_voice showing a man holding a #VorreiPrendereilTreno sign

Melio followed this up with a blog post, addressed to politicians, explaining how hard it is for someone in wheelchair - as he is - to take the bus and how this hampers his ability to socialise and live a full life. "I'm single because of the bus," he wrote. "Politicians help me!"

Melio says he needs to call the station a whole day in advance to find out if there will be a train that's accessible to him. Lots of people with disabilities have shared similar stories. And many without disabilities have joined in the discussion. "A world where we can land on the moon, but you're not able to take a train? We are fighting with you," was one of the many supportive tweets.

A tweet from @WoodyPhilosophy with a pair of glasses and the hashtag #VorreiPrendereilTreno

Melio says he never expected anything like the response he's had, but now he's got people's attention, he wants to keep the pressure on. "It's important that this battle does not end here," he says. "We need concrete results, we need solutions."

Reporting by Cordelia Hebblethwaite

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What price potato salad?

A screengrab of the potato salad on Kickstarter

One hungry man on a mission has now become an internet-wide obsession.

This week, Ohio man Zach Brown turned to crowdfunding to help fund a modest goal. He set up a Kickstarter page to help him make potato salad.

Not, let's be clear, an artisanal potato salad company. Not a new line of potato-salad flavourings influenced by his global travels, or a documentary about the history of potato salad. He just wanted to make a tasty side, but lacked the cash for basic ingredients.

He set a goal of $10 (£5.84). That's low considering that the majority of successful Kickstarter projects raise between $1,000 and $9,999, but steep for homemade potato salad. But the humble and slightly ridiculous request - Brown promised to say the name of each backer aloud as he made the salad - took off. Five days into his challenge, Brown has raised almost $60,000 (£35,000), with most donors giving $4 or less.

Some were inspired to start a fundraiser of their own. "A Kickstarter to line up every person who supported the potato salad Kickstarter for a sound slap," said writer Ed Yong. A UK-based Kickstarter stating that "potato salad is basically just a fallback for when people with taste have eaten all the coleslaw," has thus far raised only £33 ($56).

Others tried to piggyback off the trend for more worthy causes. "So Internet, we can crowdfund $22K some random potato salad, can I get $1500 to tech outfit a special ed classroom?" wrote one, linking to a request on the site GoFundMe,

Indeed, while more than 3,600 people were moved to donate to the potato salad cause, many following along online are less than impressed. "If you give money to some potato salad making hipster doofus instead of to say, cancer research, you should die in a fire," wrote one.

Brown himself admitted that the popularity had caught him by surprise. While participating in a Reddit Ask Me Anything, he wrote: "I never thought it would go this far. Ten dollars seemed like a good, conservative goal. I think the thing people are responding to is the opportunity to come together around something equal parts absurd and mundane."

Reporting by Kate Dailey

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The Smelly One meets Baggy Eyes

A composite image showing a woman holding her nose, meat on a fork, teeth with gaps and a man with grey hair

There are thousands of people tweeting using the hashtag #SomaliNicknames. What's all the fuss about?

Somalis love nicknames. And their nicknames are - to put it bluntly - pretty blunt.

White Hair, No Fingers, Chipped Tooth and Big Bottom, are all popular ones.

The hashtag #SomaliNicknames was first used on Twitter four years ago (the first tweet read: "Goatboy: Because he talks fast and sounds like a goat at times.")

It's been lying largely dormant since then, but has made a spectacular comeback in the last couple of days, with more than 6,000 tweets - from Somalia, the UK, the US and elsewhere.

Here is a selection of some of the nicknames doing the rounds on Twitter:

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Shiiraaye - The Smelly One

Ilka koronto - Electric teeth

Indho Buluc - Baggy eyes

Tima Cadde - Grey hair

Ayaan CNN - "because she talks too much"

Ali Fork - "because his front teeth are far apart"

Ayaan timaa riif riif - Ayaan kinky hair

Hafsa Caadey - Hafsa Fair One

Hassan Habeenimo - Hasan Night

Abdi Roast Meat - "beacuse he got caught eating the Christmas dinners"

Abdullahi BMW (Balaayo Madax Weyn) - Abdullahi Trouble with a Big Head

Leyla Lugooyo - Leyla "who cuts the legs from beneath you" (someone who is devious or unreliable)

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For more on the background to Somali nicknames, see Justin Marozzi's From Our Own Correspondent.

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Are #GazaUnderAttack images accurate?

Graphic images are being shared on social media to show how people have been affected by the renewed tensions between Israel and the Palestinians.

Hamas has been firing rockets from Gaza into southern Israel, which has responded with airstrikes on Gaza. Several Palestinian militants have been killed and on Tuesday it was reported that at least 15 Palestinians had been injured.

Over the past week the hashtag #GazaUnderAttack has been used hundreds of thousands of times, often to distribute pictures claiming to show the effects the airstrikes.

Some of the images are of the current situation in Gaza, but a #BBCtrending analysis has found that some date as far back as 2009 and others are from conflicts in Syria and Iraq.

Produced by Neil Meads

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What are #RamadanProblems?

A composite image showing two widely shared #RamadanProblems posts from Instagram. One reads "I'm sorry for what I said when I was hungry", the other "That feeling when you finally break your fast" and shows an image of a toddler eating spaghetti Two widely shared #RamadanProblems jokes from Instagram

You've probably heard of #FirstWorldProblems, but what about #RamadanProblems?

Ramadan started last weekend, and Muslims around the world are fasting from dawn to sunset. Thousands of people have been sharing their experience using the hashtag #RamadanProblems. It's a trend that runs right across Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Vine and more.

Just like the commonly used #FirstWorldProblems, many of the tweets are jokey in tone. "It's about Muslims who are fasting who don't take themselves too seriously," says Uzma Atcha from Dubai, who has been using the hashtag, "It sort of shows the world that we're regular people - we go through the same struggles."

The hashtag has been around for a while but has "exploded on the Twittersphere" this year, she says. The US, the UK, Pakistan, Canada and the United Arab Emirates are the top countries using the hashtag.

Some are sharing tips and practical advice. Some of the discussion is aimed at helping non-Muslims get a better understanding of Ramadan. But perhaps unsurprisingly, a huge amount of the conversation is about hunger.

A tweet that says: "Saw this on Instagram and thought 'That looks delicious'. Then read the caption - 'Mixing Paint'"
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"These fasts are not very fast are they #RamadanProblems"

"I think I just watched my clock go from 2:54 to 2:53. I'm not joking #RamadanProblems"

"Staring at the fridge like it's your ex #Ramadanproblems"

"RamadanProblems when you walk around and see food instead of people"

"Had one of those 'really, not even water?!' conversations today #Ramadanproblems"

"RamadanProblems: the only time I have a date every night #Ramadanproblems"

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There are lots of big Ramadan trends this year. The term "Happy Fasting" has been used almost 200,000 times, for example.

Social media is building a sense of pride and community among Muslims around the world at Ramadan, says a journalist and cultural critic Laila Alawa who organised a discussion about the hashtag #RamadanProblems.

Countless Ramadan apps have been launched. There is a Twitter handle called Ramadan Tips and a Facebook page, Productive Muslim, with more than a million "likes". Many mosques and Muslim scholars are using social media extensively.

Twitter has got in on it too, introducing Ramadan "hashflags" - similar to those being used in the World Cup. If you use #Ramadan or #Eid in English or Arabic, a crescent moon icon or Arabic calligraphy appears beside the hashtag.

A tweet showing the Ramadan and Eid hashflags

More on #RamadanProblems on BBC Trending radio on BBC World Service at 10:30 GMT on Saturday. You can also subscribe to the BBC Trending podcast


Fighting for healthcare with social media

A composite image showing Yakubu Yusuf when he was well (l) and now (r)

Nigeria is renowned for online scams - but not so well known is how widely social media is used by friends and family to fundraise in genuine cases of medical need.

The hashtag #SaveYakubuYusuf has been used more than 6,000 times in Nigeria in the past week. People are calling for donations for 29-year-old Yakubu Yusuf, a psychology student at the University of Lagos, to pay for him to travel to India for treatment for throat cancer. They're looking for seven million naira ($43,000; £25,000) and are asking people to pay the money into his mother's bank account.

If you encounter a tweet or Facebook post that comes complete with a plea for help, an emotive image... and bank details, you could be forgiven for raising a sceptical eyebrow. Especially when the country in question is Nigeria, which has a well-deserved reputation for online scams.

But this case is 100% genuine. One of his friends has made a video showing Yusuf in hospital, and others have lobbied influential figures on Twitter to try to get support. "We can't beat this on our own - we are students," says Ishola Ebenezer, one of those coordinating the campaign. "Time is not on our side."

Yakubu Yusuf and Armstrong Aliche "Vibrant, intelligent, bright and kind": Armstrong Aliche (r) on his friend Yusuf (l)

One of those who's been contacted for help is Japheth Omojuwa, a well-known Nigerian blogger with almost 130,000 followers on Twitter. He's worked on many Twitter fundraising campaigns in the past. #SaveYakubuYusuf is the latest in a series of trends in the country, which have seen friends and family crowdsource funding for medical treatment, he says.

One of the most high-profile was #SaveOJB - to raise money to for a kidney transplant for music producer OJB Jezreel. #SaveBabyKenny was another - this time for a baby with a hole in her heart.

Though many of the social media campaigns have been successful, they shouldn't have to happen, says Omojuwa. "The underlying reality is of a failed society, of a failed system," he says.

"I come across this two or three times a week," says Ronnie Jacobs, founder of Cancel Cancer Africa, which aims to set up four "centres of excellence" on cancer in Africa. Many cases - like this - are genuine, but it pays to be vigilant. "It does happen - there are people who use other people's illnesses to raise money for themselves." He recommends anyone fundraising should team up with a recognised cancer charity to collect the money.

A tribute with lots of paper thumbs up to Stephen Sutton A tribute to teen fundraiser Stephen Sutton

In the UK, there have been some hugely successful cancer fundraising campaigns on social media - Stephen Sutton raised more than £3m ($5m) for the Teenage Cancer Trust before he died at the age of 19. And - as we reported on this blog - more than £1m ($1.7m) was raised as a result of the #NoMakeUpselfie trend.

Reporting by Cordelia Hebblethwaite

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All our stories are at bbc.com/trending


The racist video that's shocked Australia

A screengrab from a YouTube video show shows a woman making a slitty eye gesture

Police in Australia have charged a woman after a video was uploaded to YouTube showing her hurling racist abuse at passengers on a train near Sydney.

Racially offensive gestures, mocking of accents, referring to a woman as a "gook". The three-and-a-half minute video is packed with racist abuse. It was uploaded to YouTube on Wednesday by one of the passengers who filmed it on the train. The video begins with the woman expressing her anger that some children have not given up their seats to let her sit down.

She then starts abusing a woman she calls an "Asian", and a man she assumes is the woman's boyfriend. "Look at this bogan here," she says, using an Australian slang term similar to "white trash". "He can only get a gook, he can't even get a regular girlfriend. It's so sad." "Gook" is a derogatory term which came to prominence when used by American soldiers in the Vietnam war.

The video has been watched more than 280,000 times and prompted more than 1,000 comments on YouTube - as well as discussion on Twitter and Facebook. "Good on those train passengers for filming that incident," tweeted Australia's Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane. "It's one way we can hold people accountable for racist abuse." In the video, several of the passengers are seen to challenge the woman directly for her behaviour.

Tweet which reads "Woman facing charges over racist Sydney train tirade, but outrage from so many decent Aussies is great to see."

Most commenting on Twitter were strong in their condemnation. "Wow, just wow #OnlyinAustralia #Disgracetothehumanrace," was one tweet for example. "I love it when technology brings transparency and accountability. This racist will rightly be shamed publically," was another.

Under Australia's Racial Discrimination Act, it is against the law to "offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate" someone because of their ethnicity or race. But the government is currently debating whether to repeal this section of the act. The plan is controversial, and some made reference to the proposal while discussing the video.

On YouTube, some defended the woman. "Can't blame her... migrants come here and think they own the place," was one comment. But many Australians apologised for her actions. "This woman does not represent the views of MOST Australians," wrote one. "Sorry for anyone offended, she is an entire nation's shame."

The Australian website ninemsns says it has tracked down the woman in the video. In an interview with them, she said she'd had a "really, really rotten day". She apologised for her actions and said she was "disgusted" at her behaviour. "No-one deserves to be spoken to like that," she said.

This is not the first time that racism in Australia has come to public attention. In June 2013 a woman was captured on video racially abusing an Asian schoolboy on a Sydney bus. Earlier that year, Malaysian-Australian newsreader Jeremy Fernandez tweeted about "15 minutes of racial abuse" he was subjected to on a bus.

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Teen hunter in Facebook showdown

Kendall Jones is a 19-year-old from Texas, a university student and a former cheerleader - but those characteristics of her life are not what she posts about on Facebook.

Instead Kendall's pictures mostly feature her posing next to large animals she has hunted and sometimes killed, legally, in Africa.

The page has attracted huge amounts of criticism in the past few days - with thousands of comments and online petitions calling for her to be stopped from hunting in Africa. But she is arguing back, comparing what she does to former US President Theodore Roosevelt, who started the country's national parks.

Video Journalist: Anna Bressanin

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Does #LikeAGirl challenge sexism?

Little girl in Always ad

A video for sanitary towels is trending on YouTube. But there isn't a direct mention of the product and only a subtle reference to the brand. It's a formula that has proven to be successful for companies. So what does it say about how advertisers are using social platforms to reach new audiences?

The video entitled #LikeAGirl was made for the brand Always, which sells feminine hygiene products. It presents itself in a candid documentary style and asks girls and boys of different ages about their understanding of what it means to be "like a girl". The filmmaker and director Lauren Greenfield says she teamed up with Always "to shed light on how this simple phrase can have a significant and long-lasting impact on girls and women."

It's a transparent attempt to debunk negative stereotyping associated with femininity. You only need to glance at the online conversation ignited by this video to understand why it's been so successful. "Moving", "amazing", "wonderful", and "inspiring" have been used to to describe it. #LikeAGirl is popular because it taps into an issue that resonates with people worldwide. Gender equality is one of the most prominent topics discussed on social media - look no further than the hashtag campaigns #NotYourAsianSidekick and #YesAllWomen.

Since Thursday the #LikeAGirl video has been watched more than 20 million times on YouTube and the hashtag has been used 75,000 times on Twitter. But does it do more than get clicks and start a conversation? Can it move the gender debate forward and sell products at the same time? "It's often difficult to quantify if a specific video sold more products as it will have been part of a much wider campaign. But there are examples where this has happened. The motherhood Fiat ad sold £500,000 worth of cars." says Christopher Quigley, co-founder of the Viral Ad Network (VAN).

Woman walking across zebra crossing

Advertising and simultaneous campaigning on social media is not new. Last year Pantene released an ad on YouTube using the hashtag #ShineStrong. It featured men and women in the same scenarios but using different words to describe them. The intention? To ignite a debate about how genders are perceived in the workplace. Perhaps the most ringing endorsement came from Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg who gave it the "'Lean In' prize of the day!" It only became apparent at the end of the video that it was an ad for Pantene. "As a fundamental principle, advertisers have to respect people's time and realise that they can click away at any point," says Christopher Quigley of VAN. "As long as you've enjoyed or engaged, there's no reason why you'd have a negative reaction to the brand."

So advertisers realise they can't just blatantly flog their products on social media. They're attempting to give people something extra and be part of a conversation. But there's a fine line between success and failure. This week's Twitter Q&A with the US singer Robin Thicke is a recent example of how things can go horribly wrong. Social media users are savvy and discerning which means companies have more exposure and are more exposed than ever before.

Reporting by Anne-Marie Tomchak

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Americans scoff at Isis Twitter threats

A gun-toting Isis militant

When Americans were threatened with calamity on Twitter, many had a tart response - yeah, right.

The madness all started on Friday. Supporters of Islamic State of Syria and the Levant (Isis), the militant group that is leading a Sunni revolt in northern Syria and Iraq, used Twitter to take aim at the US public with the hashtag #CalamityWillBefallUS.

@ansaar999, a Twitter account that appears to have ties to Isis, tweeted a guideline for a "Warning to American People" campaign to its 23,400 followers, which included advice to send tweets in English and use images when possible, as well as where to find pre-written threats.

Among the recurring lines in the subsequent tweets: "If the United States bomb Iraq, every American citizen is a legitimate target for us" and "Every American doctor working in any country will be slaughtered if America attack Iraq".

A tweet by @ansaaar999 with guidelines for its "Warning to American People" Twitter campaign.

Included in the messages were graphic images of dead and grieving US soldiers, the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center and black-clad Isis soldiers.

The tweets were sent to US politicians and media personalities, as well as celebrities with large social media followings such as Oprah Winfrey and talk show host Jimmy Kimmel.

So what was the motivation behind this social media onslaught?

The Investigative Project on Terrorism's John Rossomando and Ravi Kumar write that Isis's Twitter campaign "may be a combination of recruiting propaganda and an attempt to drive public support down for any future American strikes".

If it's the latter, however, the US response did not go quite according to plan. Twitter users in the US quickly adopted the calamity hashtag to rebuff the Isis threats and offer a few of their own.

Theresa Giarratano quoted a passage from the Bible, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay saith the Lord", along with a graphic containing the line: "Keep calm and death to Islam".

"We're YOUR nightmare," tweets @dernemax. "Every time you hear a plane or helicopter you will fear death from above." His message was accompanied by a photo of US soldiers with faces painted like skulls.

A tweet from the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications responding to a pro-Isis message.

When #BBCTrending asked @dernemax, an American who preferred to go only by his Twitter handle, why he took to Twitter to reply, he said he was angered by seeing photos of dead US soldiers.

"I got real frustrated with how many people were tweeting against America," he said.

Isis is "all talk and propaganda", he added. "They try to intimidate and scare people using social media. I wanted them to know it's not working."

The US government even got into the action, as the state department's Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC) employed a Twitter handle it uses to engage US critics in the Middle East, @ThinkAgain_DOS.

When @Hzam_nesf tweeted: "We say to the US Government and swear to God that we will enter the White House and come to your cities", CSCC replied: "Like you haven't threatened us many times before! Btw, Osama officially retired from terrorism!"

As Americans might say: Oh, snap.

By Tuesday afternoon, there had been almost 100,000 mentions of the calamity hashtag, with 50% coming from Saudi Arabia - considered a hotbed of Isis support - and 23% from the US. It was not so much a globe debate as a shouting match between residents of two nations.

The #CalamityWillBefallUS had become a roiling sea of threats and counter-threats, graphic images and nonsensical links to Youtube music videos. It's the American way.

Reporting by Anthony Zurcher

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Police and guns on Tinder

Should Brazilian security forces be posing with their weapons on dating sites?

People posing in uniform are nothing new, but in Brazil one woman set up a blog to highlight the trend of police and army officers posting profile pictures on Tinder with their assault rifles.

Some people feel this isn't appropriate in a country where thousands of people die every year at the hands of the Brazilian security forces. #BBCtrending spoke to the woman behind the blog.

Video Journalist Paul Harris

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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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