Officials in Brussels are worried. With the elections for the European Parliament rapidly approaching, they say Russia is using disinformation and fake news to sow discord and to undermine people's trust in the European Union.
Moscow flatly denies such accusations. But EU officials say Russian disinformation could help anti-EU parties and movements. And, if you were to believe the polls, populist and Eurosceptic parties are indeed likely to increase their number of seats.
While the EU talks of a threat that can’t be ignored, others argue that European governments are missing the point: it's not foreign threats they should be tackling, but rather issues such as economic uncertainty, worries over immigration and discontent with traditional politics.
So, how seriously should we be taking the EU's warnings?
Presenter: Mike Wendling
Reporter: Marco Silva
(Photo caption: Mural depicting a man chipping a star off of the European Union flag, by British graffiti artist Banksy / Photo credit: Getty Images)
What’s boosting the ‘Brazilian Butt Lift’?
It’s a dangerous cosmetic surgical procedure that’s all over social media. About one in every 3,000 women who undergo a Brazilian Butt Lift - or BBL - will die, but the stark statistics haven’t stopped its popularity. In the United States, for instance, the number of BBLs has doubled in just a few years.
Fuelling the trend are social media photos and influencers who show off their hourglass shapes – including big breasts, tiny waists, and a big bottom. It’s a particularly prized body type in some cultures and, in modern times, it’s been popularised by superstars like Kim Kardashian.
We follow Shami, a 23-year-old who’s considering having a BBL. Before she makes a decision, she speaks to social media influencers, her close friends, and medical professionals who help guide her through her choice. Will she – or won’t she?
Presenter: Anisa Subedar
Reporter: Lola Mosanya
(Photo caption: artist’s impression of a Brazilian Butt Lift/ Photo credit: BBC)
How to survive the digital age
Where did it all go wrong? The liberating promise of the internet and social media has recently been swamped by worries about privacy, misinformation and online radicalisation.
Now that doubts about our digital technologies are all over the news, what should we do about it?
Author and podcaster Douglas Rushkoff wants a new fight against “anti-human” technologies. He says that many recent technological developments – including the rise of social media – have alienated and isolated us.
Rushkoff is not a Luddite – in fact he’s an enthusiastic early adopter and long-time chronicler of the digital world. But in his new book Team Human, and his podcast of the same name, he argues for a critical look at how technology is affecting our brains and our lives.
What does he think is the way forward – and are people really listening?
Presenter: Mike Wendling
Producers: Jonathan Griffin and Ed Main
(Photo caption: Douglas Rushkoff/ Photo credit: Iain Marcks)
The fight for South Africa’s future
There’s a new wave of political activism in South Africa. Young activists with social media savvy have shaken up the system and could be a decisive factor in next month’s general election.
We’ve been to Johannesburg to meet Sankara. His day job is selling eggs, and he’s a staunch supporter of the African National Congress (ANC) – the political movement that has been in power ever since Nelson Mandela was elected president 25 years ago.
But this time around the ANC’s majority is not looking so certain. One relatively new party, the Economic Freedom Fighters, are looking to boost their share of the vote with more radical policies over land reform and other issues. Their hard-left rhetoric has found an audience among many young people including students like Thapi.
The new wave of youth activism has been given a boost by campus movements against rising tuition fees and against alleged bias in education.
And so it’s fitting that we brought Sankara and Thapi to meet on the grounds of Wits University to debate the future path of South Africa.
Presenters: Jonathan Griffin and Anisa Subedar
Producer: Marco Silva
Photo Caption: ANC member Sankara (left) and EFF member Thapi (right)/ Photo Credit: BBC
Fake news and false confessions in Sudan protests
Trending investigates claims that innocent men were framed to try to discredit demonstrations against Sudan’s former leader Omar al-Bashir.
After mass street protests, the military stepped in to end President Bashir’s 30-year rule earlier this month. But the BBC has uncovered evidence that the regime organised a fake news campaign to try to portray peaceful protesters as violent rebels.
Students were allegedly tortured to make false confessions that were filmed and distributed online. However, social media played a critical role in exposing the attempted deception.
Presenter: Anisa Subedar
Reporter: Owen Pinnell
Photo Caption: Demonstrators gather during a rally outside the army complex in the capital Khartoum.
Photo Credit: Getty Images.