23-year-old Mathilde lives in a small town in Boulgou Province, south-eastern Burkina Faso. The Internet and social media plays a big roles in her life and she spends a lot of time online. “I’m online almost all the time, because for me social networks are a big market for professional and relationship opportunities,” she explains.
Millions of girls and young women use Facebook and other major social media platforms every day. Social media platforms are vital spaces for girls and young women to equally exercise their rights and freedoms, but these online sites are not always safe places as Mathilde discovered.
“I experience misinformation on social networks, especially on Facebook. I had just graduated from high school and was under pressure from my mother to find a job to support the family and I saw a job offer on Facebook. It was to work in a mine and I was excited, so I told my mom.
According to the job advert, I needed to have a PDF version of my CV, a scan of my bachelor’s degree and training or internship certificates to show my qualifications for the job. I did it with a friend and we sent in our applications. We were very happy with the thought of working in the mines which are considered a great source of wealth. Our heads were in the clouds.
A week later, I got a phone call telling me that my application had been selected and that I had to go for an interview but first I had to transfer a sum of 12,000 CFA (20 USD) to pay for the application fee. I didn’t have this money and neither did my friend. I went to explain everything to my mother who said she would try to get the money together for me.
Can you see the spirit I was in? I was very excited in the hope of getting a job and I saw my future plans already in motion, my schedule for the year was already set. I had already planned how I would continue my studies at night and then work to support my family during the day, and my mother was also over the moon as she could already see herself relieved of certain responsibilities.
My luck! I met a friend before the appointment date to pay the application fee, but when I explained the situation to him, he said he thought that it was a scam because a serious job offer would not ask for an application fee.
When I called the number to say that the money was not being sent, the man told me to meet him to give him the money, so I said I would come with someone else. But when I called the number again, it didn’t work and I then understood that it was indeed a scam.
False information online affects us! Misinformation can change a person’s psychological state, that is to say, it can bring us joy, sadness, stress or make you dream and make plans, but it is all based on false information.
I would like the Burkina Faso government to set up a team that is in charge of verifying information on social networks before it is published, so that when you create your Facebook account for example, Facebook gives you access to different verified platforms where you can get the correct information about work opportunities, health or education.”