August 3, 2022

The Balkan Troll of the Month is an individual, a group of individuals or a media outlet that spreads hate based on gender, ethnicity, religion, or other diversity categories. The Balkan Troll is selected based on hate speech incidents identified across the Western Balkans region.

This month’s Troll is JOQ Albania which recently reported on a non-consensual TikTok video taken in a club thereby breaching legal and professional practices.

JOQ Albania is a media outlet with a national reach and large audience. Recently, the outlet published an article with the title ‘Today’s youth gives a show at the pub/The girl between two boys, the one in front caresses her and the one behind sucks on her neck’. The article refers to a TikTok video which depicted a young woman who was clearly being sexually harassed and assaulted by two young men at a club. Furthermore, from the video it was obvious that the young woman was intoxicated which calls into question both her level of consciousness and awareness surrounding the filming and posting of the video. The actions towards the young woman including filming and uploading the video on TikTok without her consent is both extremely problematic and, effectively, a crime. JOQ’s editorial decision to report and publish the video on their platform disregards all professional and legal practices. Sharing  the video for the sake of making ‘news’ with a clickbait headline could be considered a crime in itself as it redistributes content that includes illegal activities.

Not only was this video both reported and commented on by JOQ Albania, it was furthermore, posted on their official Instagram site with the caption that read “give your comment on the trio”.  This resulted in a stream of comments underneath the video including a range of inappropriate jokes mocking the situation at hand. Captions such as these spur on sexist and misogynistic narratives amongst the public regarding serious acts of harassment. Such practices only uphold and encourage similar behaviours in the society with little to no repercussions.

Sexual harassment is a serious topic and one which should not go without accountability and consequence. The act of spreading such videos and captions further encourages behaviour with no responsibility or acknowledgement of the extremely problematic issue of harassment and non-consensual behaviour. Moreover, the topic and issue of consent is a serious one and one which should not go unnoticed. Filming and sharing content on social media without the consent and permission of those involved goes against community guidelines.

JOQ Albania, which has a wide and influential outreach and audience, holds both an ethical and legal obligation to report in a professional and correct manner. The reporting and sharing of this video in which the young woman is clearly intoxicated is extremely unprofessional and problematic. Furthermore, the sharing of the video on their Instagram page with a  caption that encourages harassment  promotes sexist and disrespectful comments to be made in reaction. Such sensationalistic reporting of something that could be covered as a serious social issue, enables sexism within society and disregards the role the media should have in society. JOQ Albania and other media outlets alike should adhered to the Code of Journalistic Ethics and report in a professional and appropriate manner.

Article 3 of the Code of Journalism Ethics, which refers to private life, clearly states:

“a) The press must respect the private life and the intimate sphere of the person. The observations and investigations on the private life are not allowed. It is not ethical to use telephoto lens in order to take photographs of the private life.
b) Its publication must be done only if it is in the public interest.
c) The photographing of the private environment must not be done without the person’s permission.”

In addition, article 14  recognises discrimination:

“The journalist must avoid, by all means, the discrimination based on race, sex, language, religion, political views, physical handicap, social or national origins.”