In-depth reporting on the world of social media.
Exposing people smugglers
19:16People smugglers are selling illegal routes out of Pakistan to Europe on social media. We’ve gone undercover with BBC Newsnight and BBC Urdu to expose how smugglers are luring potential migrants into taking dangerous voyages. They advertise online… in plain sight. Promising people safe passage to Europe.Presenter: Reha Kansara Producers: Samrah Fatima, Jasmin Dyer and Jonathan Griffin Editor: Flora Carmichael
The Voice: conspiracies and Australia's referendum
21:33Earlier in October, Australia took to the polls in a referendum and rejected the establishment of an indigenous advisory body in the constitution - the Voice. Beyond the typical controversies, social media became flooded with false information. In this episode of Trending, we’ll delve into how online conspiracy groups garnered support for their extreme theories to oppose the Voice, and gained unlikely allies along the way. Presenter: Beth Godwin Reporter: Jacqui Wakefield Producers: Jacqui Wakefield and Beth Godwin
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Trolled by a life coaching cult
20:13A life coaching group has been accused of trolling former members. Lighthouse International Group promises to help people realise their dreams and ambitions, but the reality is more sinister. Lighthouse obsessively records and stores mentoring sessions and group calls. But when people ask questions or try to leave, that’s when the trouble really starts. BBC Trending's series Trolled lifts the lid on online abuse and trolling on and off social media. Presenter: Catrin Nye Producer: Ed Main Editor: Flora Carmichael
Inside America’s political battleground
22:00Mike Wendling and Maxine Hughes explore how extreme conspiracies and right wing rhetoric went mainstream in America. From the Proud Boys' Enrique Tarrio, to far right militias and Antifa, we hear from individuals on the extremes of American politics about what they believe and why, and explore what part social media has played in the radicalisation of parts of American society. Presenter: Mike Wendling Reporter: Maxine Hughes Producer: Kayleen Devlin Editor: Flora Carmichael
India's latest 'love trap'
19:08Videos taken across India are going viral on social media. They show hordes of men harassing and even attacking young couples in the street. The clips are accompanied by a hashtag #BhagwaLoveTrap - and have been inspired by an inflammatory narrative.The theory suggests Hindu men are trying to seduce Muslim women and lure them away from their communities - but there’s scant evidence to support the idea.Shruti Menon meets the Muslim activists pushing the idea of a ‘Bhagwa Love Trap’, and asks what’s behind it.And she hears from a Hindu leader who thinks the theory is nonsense, and claims the reverse is happening instead.Presenter: Shruti Menon Producer: Sam Judah Editor: Flora Carmichael
20:33TikTok started as an app for posting lip syncs and dance videos, but quickly developed into a platform where users can follow along world events, criminal investigations and social unrest in real time.From frenzied speculation over true crime to vandalism and protests at schools, TikTok seems to be connected to harmful behaviour offline as the app draws in billions of eyeballs and spawns all kinds of content out at scale and speed.According to several company insiders, TikTok’s drive towards participation and maximising engagement has led to these frenzies. TikTok says their platform isn’t to blame, but is the app changing our behaviour?Presenter: Marianna Spring Producers: Beth Godwin and Olivia Lace-Evans Editor: Flora Carmichael
How to exit the manosphere
19:35You may have heard about how young men are being drawn into the so-called ‘manosphere’ but how can they escape? Can subreddits such as #IncelExit help men who are involuntarily celibate to put their disturbing views to one side and foster more healthy perspectives about women and dating?We hear from former manosphere subscribers around the world who have found comfort in opening up and addressing their issues in relatively empathetic Reddit forums. Academic Josh Thorburn from Monash University in Melbourne welcomes the deradicalisation that can occur in these online spaces and says subreddits are able to reach communities internationally that professionals often can’t.However #IncelExit and #ExRedPill are not a silver bullet for deradicalising young men. Many Redditors experience a non-linear journey and don’t get rid of all of their misogynistic baggage overnight. And not everyone is a “decent dude” looking for a way out.Presenter: Jonathan Griffin Producer: Loonie Park Editor: Flora Carmichael
The germ deniers
19:14Conspiracy theories about viruses and vaccines have exploded in recent years. At the same time, something arguably stranger has spiralled…groups online who don’t believe germs which cause disease exist at all. They believe that there’s no such thing as viruses and that all diseases are caused by living an unhealthy life, particularly our diet and environmental toxins. It goes hand in hand with a rejection of vaccines and other forms of conventional medicine. The BBC's health and disinformation reporter Rachel Schraer investigates how germ denial has grown and spread on social media. In South Africa, a small group of germ deniers, influenced by American conspiracy theorists, is awaking painful memories. Presenter and prodcer: Rachel Schraer Editor: Flora Carmichael
The AI ghosts haunting TikTok
21:20In a gruesome new trend, TikTok has been flooded with videos in which AI-generated versions of real life child murder victims tell the stories of how they were killed. The mother of child murder victim James Bulger and other grieving parents have expressed their disgust that their loved ones digital versions of their loved ones have been created and posted online without their consent. In the first episode of “Extreme”, a new series from BBC Trending, Ed Main investigates this phenomenon. More than 100 different AI-generated versions of the same child have been posted online. Social media safety campaigner Baroness Beeban Kidron calls it an “emotional assault” on victims’ families. While TikTok has banned AI content that uses the likeness of real children, some of these videos have gathered millions of views. So who is creating these mini horror movies and why are people watching them despite the distress they are causing? Presenter and producer: Ed Main Additional reporting: Thuong Le Editor: Flora Carmichael
Venezuelan deepfakes and propaganda
22:37Earlier this year videos made using artificial intelligence caused a stir in Venezuela. Many Venezuelans would have thought they were real news reports but a Spanish newspaper exposed them as deepfakes and linked them to a pro-government agenda. The journalist who exposed the fakes was immediately targeted and the Venezuelan government went into damage control, responding on Twitter with the hashtag #SomosInteligenciaSocial – 'We Are Social Intelligence', seemingly to drown out criticism. But what does the hashtag mean, and how does it fit into the country’s wider theme of quashing dissent? Carl Miller delves into the murky world of the Venezuelan state’s propaganda tactics online. Presenter: Carl Miller - co-founder of the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media at Demos and author of The Death of the Gods Producer: Reha Kansara and Rachelle Krygier Editor: Flora Carmichael