Unsocial Media – Tracing and Exposing Gendered Disinformation in Kosovo


The purpose of this report is to trace and detect gendered disinformation, a concerning trend in the dissemination of news and information through social and online media platforms.

Disproportionate targeting based on gender and sexual orientation, especially those in the public eye like politicians, is a common phenomenon of disinformation campaigns and online violence. The effects of such campaigns are to damage the credibility of women leaders, potentially influencing public perception and election outcomes. Online violence and harassment, marked by sexist and misogynistic comments, are more prevalent for women and LGBTQI+ persons, particularly on social media, and may negatively affect their mental well-being.

Gendered disinformation and online violence have contributed to political polarization, fostering a hostile online environment that can discourage women and other marginalized groups from actively participating in civic life.

Key Findings

  • Gender disparity in online violence and harassment: Upon analyzing comments from articles containing gendered disinformation, we discovered that women encounter online violence and harassment more frequently from men than from women (Men make up 89.6% of hate speech comments and women 10.4%). When segregating the data based on gender from all comments in the articles, it became evident that men exhibited a higher degree of engagement in online violence and harassment directed at women.
  • Higher engagement on gendered disinformation content: Gendered disinformation news articles in media generate significantly higher engagement compared to overall news articles. On average, the gendered disinformation cases in media collect over 86 reactions per news—three times higher than the typical engagement for all news.
  • Intentional Targeting: Women, especially those in the public eye such as politicians and public figures, are often targeted by disinformation campaigns in comparison to men.
  • Undermining Credibility: Disinformation campaigns frequently undermine the credibility of women in positions of leadership. This could bring consequences, affecting public perception and potentially influencing electoral outcomes.
  • Online violence and harassment: Women and LGBTQI+ persons experience higher levels of online harassment, including sexist and misogynistic and hate speech comments. Social media platforms are common spaces for such harassment, impacting the mental health and well-being of the targeted individuals.
  • Intersectionality Challenges: From the intersectional perspective women with different layers of marginalization may face heightened disinformation campaigns exploiting multiple dimensions of their identity, such as race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation
  • Political Polarization: Gendered disinformation is contributing to political polarization by fostering a hostile online environment in Kosovo. This can harm inclusivity in democracy and can deter women and LGBTQI+ persons from entering politics or engaging in public discourse, limiting their participation in civic and public life.
  • Online backlash: D4D and Pikasa Analytics highlight a notable online attack on women public figures who decide to oppose their male counterparts. Women who question or challenge their male colleagues experience pronounced social media attacks.

This publication was made possible with the support of the National Democratic Institute (NDI), The United States Agency for International Development – USAID in Kosovo and The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Kosovo. The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of NDI, USAID, UNDP, or any individual of the aforementioned organizations.

UNDP Kosovo support was made possible through generous contributions from Luxembourg, Republic of Korea, and Norway, via the Funding Windows. As UNDP’s primary vehicle for thematic funding, the Funding Windows enable UNDP to respond swiftly and comprehensively to needs and emerging  challenges across the world.