Women's success stories attract trolls -- even when they aren't true

It's not always the media who go for the misogynist "kill" -- sometimes it's the readers.

Tijana Cvjeticanin
Tijana Cvjeticanin Istinomjer, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Source: Istinomjer
Women's success stories attract trolls -- even when they aren't true - NewsMavens
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Why this story matters:

There's no lack of sexist articles in the fake news websites in the Balkans (and beyond). However, sometimes they publish fake news where women are just protagonists, not the targets. In the garbage news universe, this could even be seen as a positive thing -- treating men and women equally when it comes to making up nonsense. 

This was the case with the fake "success story" of a medical nurse from Zenica, whose fictional testimony was published on a local website. The fictional character told a story tantalizing to many desperate citizens of BiH: a tale of moving abroad to work as a nurse and managing to save up for an apartment and a car in just six months. 

The story itself wasn't exceptional in any way -- it was one of many fakes which exploit the fact that tens of thousands leave, and many more want to leave Bosnia and Herzegovina to find work elsewhere. What made it troublesome were the comments of readers who immediatelly jumped at the fictional woman. Even in the comments left on the debunking article, which clearly states that both the woman and the story are made up, most of the readers accuse the fictional "her" of lying about her success.

But more troublesome even were comments such as these:

Maybe she had an additional job which pays extra. Half an hour 200 Euro -- you can save up with that. 

Sure, she saved up if she was selling herself. 

I'm sure she did have 5000 Euro wage, but only she knows how many blowjobs she gave for that 5000.

Most of these comments were removed by page administrators and are no longer visible. A few which contained less offensive language were, however, left as a testimony to the ways that misogyny rears its ugly head on virtually any kind of news which includes women -- even if the news is fake and the woman doesn't even exist.

Details from the story:

  • The actual content of the story goes as follows: a young woman from Zenica (a town in Bosnia) sent a letter to one of the anonymous fake news websites, describing her experience with finding work.
  • "She" was struggling in Bosnia, so after seeing a job application ad for nurses in Germany, she decided to get a nursing school certificate 
  • Upon arriving, she landed a nursing job paying 5,000 Euro per month and saved up for a new apartment and a car in just six months (none of these numbers add up, indicating that the entire story is made up). 
  • The website which first published this, as well as other portals which republished the story, used the same picture of two women in white clothes as an illustration for the articles, implying that one of them is "the nurse from Zenica"
  • The two women are actually not even from BiH -- their picture appeared as an illustration for a 2015 article about German language school in Novi Pazar (Serbia).

Project #Femfacts co-financed by European Commission Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology as part of the Pilot Project – Media Literacy For All

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