Gendered Disinformation: The Ugly Intersection of Fake News and Sexism

In the Philippines, a sitting senator is not allowed to use electronic devices, see her son graduate, or leave her jail cell. Her name is Leila De Lima, and she was arrested five years ago.

Leila De Lima

Her real crime? Calling for an investigation of extrajudicial killings in the country’s sham of a drug war by Duterte.

That same year, Svitlana Zalishchuk, a Ukrainian member of parliament, had given a speech at the UN on the impact of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict on women.

Svitlana Zalischuk

Almost immediately afterward, a screenshot of a fake tweet supposedly by Zalishchuk started making rounds online.

Understanding Gendered Disinformation

Gendered disinformation is defined as, “a subset of online gendered abuse that uses false or misleading gender and sex-based narratives against women."

Moreover, gendered disinformation has all three of the characteristics of disinformation, namely: falsity, malign intent, and coordination.

The end goal, then, is to push us out of public spaces — making gendered disinformation not just an issue among women, but an issue of democracy.

What Can Be Done About Gendered Disinformation?

In response to the rise of gendered disinformation, women’s groups and activists have been speaking out and launching campaigns to raise more awareness.

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