In-depth reporting on the world of social media
The online boom in climate doom
19:49It is hard not to feel anxious about climate change. After all, the world is already experiencing the effects of global warming - and scientists tell us much worse could still be on its way. For some, tackling climate change feels like a lost cause: a job so big and complex, that it is doomed for failure - the demise of the human species is inevitable. This is wrong. But even though this view is predicated on falsehoods and distortions, it appears to be spreading online - and a lot of young people are getting sucked in. Why is "doomism" going viral? And who are the activists and campaigners standing up to it? Presenter: Marco Silva (Illustration: Hands holding electronic devices showing melting planets. Credit: Sandra Rodríguez Chillida/BBC News)
Gaming Brazil's election
21:13Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro has enjoyed a particularly close relationship with the gaming community. They were one of the groups he relied on to get elected in 2018 and he has since rewarded them by lowering taxes on video games consoles. The country’s gaming industry is unique – forged by a combination of strict import laws under military rule, homegrown talent and later, high prices which kept the world of gaming firmly in the hands of the rich and privileged. Brazilian gamers were drawn to President Bolsonaro’s straight talk. But there are hints that things might be changing. His handling of the coronavirus pandemic has caused Bolsonaro’s approval rates to fall across society – and gamers are no exception. Some high profile gaming supporters have turned their back on the president. Plus the industry’s demographics are rapidly shifting, and not in Bolsonaro’s favour. So how are video game developers visualising the 2022 election? And can President Bolsonaro still rely on the support of the button bashers to defeat his arch enemy Lula? Presenter: Jonathan Griffin Reporter: Juliana Gragnani (Image: A still from a satirical Brazilian game which pits politicians against each other in a vicious fight. Credit: Políticos Memes Kombat)
Confessions of an election troll in the Philippines
18:24We hear from a troll from the Philippines - the "patient zero" of fake news. Experts say the problem is as bad as ever, as a new election looms. Researchers claim that tactics seen playing out in the southeast Asian country have cropped up elsewhere since Rodrigo Duterte rose to power – perhaps most notably in the US in 2016. Now it’s time for Filipinos to return to the polls, and the experts warn that the problem hasn’t been solved – the current campaign has been plagued by disinformation. Not only do we hear from those looking into the issue, but Trending speaks to a self-confessed troll who says he’s been hired by multiple political candidates. Some of the tactics he employs are more sophisticated than you might think. Presenter: Kayleen Devlin Picture caption: Philippine presidential candidate Ferdinand "Bong Bong" Marcos Jr gestures during a rally in Lipa, Batangas province, Philippines, 20 April. Picture credit: Eloisa Lopez/Reuters
Tortured for tweeting?
18:05When Kakwenza Rukirabashaija mocked the Ugandan president’s son on Twitter, he knew he was playing with fire. Within 24 hours, the satirist had been arrested, and says he was tortured before fleeing the country. Throughout the ordeal, he has not stopped tweeting. He wants the world to know what is happening in Uganda before he returns to face trial, risking his life in the process. Kakwenza’s story is not unique, A report from Human Rights Watch says hundreds of people - opponents of President Yoweri Museveni - have been illegally detained and tortured in recent years. We meet members of the Ugandan diaspora protesting the government’s actions online. They say their accounts have been hacked and hijacked by government-sponsored cybercriminals. And that even overseas, they may not be completely safe. Reporter: Sam Judah (Photo: Kakwenza Rukirabashaija in court in Kampala in February, facing charges of offensive communication involving insulting the country's ruling family. Credit: Getty Images)
Ghana's free speech crackdown
18:12A number of Ghanaian journalists and influencers have been arrested in recent years – with several recent high-profile cases. Critics say freedom of speech is under serious threat. It wasn’t always this way. In 2018, Ghana was ranked the top country in Africa for press freedom by Reporters Without Borders. But in recent years it has dropped down the table and since the start of 2022 a handful of prominent journalists and social media influencers have been detained. We speak to those who say they are paying a price for the words they posted or broadcast, including radio presenter Bobie Ansah who faces a charge of “publication of false news and offensive conduct”. So what’s behind the crackdown, and is freedom of speech under attack? Presenter: Jonathan Griffin Producer: Favour Nunoo Photo: Oliver Barker-Vormawor, an activist recently arrested in Ghana, arrives at Ashaiman District Court on 28 February. Photo credit: Favour Nunoo/BBC
Defecting online: How soldiers are deserting the Burmese army
22:03Myanmar has been engulfed by a civil war which is getting deadlier and more violent as time goes on. Last year the Tatmadaw – the Burmese armed forces – overthrew the civilian-led government, led by Aung Sun Suu Kyi. Now they’re acting with impunity, allegedly committing heinous crimes against those who oppose them. In the past year many Tatmadaw soldiers – thousands, according to the opposition – have had second thoughts about their military service and are defecting to the other side. Trending has spoken to several of the defectors. They told us how they changed their minds, how they used social media to connect with the rebels and how they’re now using online tools to work against the military leaders they once served. Presenter: Reha Kansara Photo: Burmese soldiers line up with guns hoisted Photo Credit: Getty Images
War scams: The criminals exploiting conflict in Ukraine
18:05When war broke out in Ukraine, President Zelensky’s plea for financial aid triggered a wave of donations from ordinary people around the world. But scammers also heard the call. They fired into action, spreading emotional appeals into every corner of the internet. On TikTok, unverified war footage is being exploited by fraudsters, pushing viewers to send emoji hearts that can be swapped for hard cash. And fake websites and emails circulated, complete with heartbreaking stories designed to shake money from unwitting members of the public who just want to help. We track down a real-life doctor whose identity was stolen by a fake charity touting for Bitcoin. The message claimed to be from a clinic in Ukraine – but we found the real doctor in Mexico. And we speak to Unicef, whose brand has been hijacked by scammers, to ask how people can make sure their donations go to the right place. Reporter: Hannah Gelbart Producer: Sam Judah Special thanks to Cristina Criddle Photo credit: Getty Images
8. Russia’s climate scepticism problem
22:38In the eyes of the Kremlin, global warming is a threat that needs to be dealt with. So, President Putin is taking action: he wants Russia to go carbon neutral by 2060. And yet, Russia remains one of the world’s top producers of fossil fuels: oil and gas that bring in big money into the state’s coffers. And that poses a question: does Moscow mean business when it comes to climate action? If you look at the media, at what’s said in political circles, climate scepticism is still alive and kicking. Global warming is often portrayed as part of sinister Western cabal to hinder Russia’s economic progress. Trending and BBC Russian have been investigating where those views stem from, and how damaging they could be - not only for Russia, but for the entire planet.
7. The truth behind Saudi’s eco-city
22:55Saudi Arabia, one of the world's biggest oil producers, says it’s pivoting to green energy. It has a host of big projects and initiatives. But will reality live up to the country’s rhetoric? And why do some activists say they’ve become victims of the government’s grand plans? We’ve been looking at online chatter and PR campaigns pushing the country’s green credentials. At the same time, experts say Saudi officials are trying to secure the future of the country’s huge fossil fuel energy industry. And we hear from an activist who’s fighting on behalf of people displaced by NEOM, a brand new futuristic eco-city in the middle of the desert. Trending and BBC Arabic have been investigating the truth behind Saudi Arabia’s green plans, and we ask whether the government is really serious about reducing its reliance on fossil fuels. Presenter: Merlyn Thomas Producer: Reha Kansara Series producer: Vibeke Venema
6. How bad information polluted the climate debate
21:03Setting the record straight on some of the most common misleading narratives and tactics to explore what future climate change battlegrounds might look like. We look at how fossil fuel interest groups use division as a distraction: either stoking fear that action to tackle climate change will hurt the poor, or attacking the messengers who raise the alarm. And we take you back to the start of 2021, when blackouts in Texas which killed hundreds were misleadingly blamed on wind turbines. The idea that renewables, like solar or wind power, are dangerously unreliable has been a common theme. What’s the truth behind the claim? And how does bad information surface after extreme weather events and times of climate crisis?