Evil twin-websites – new form of pressure on independent media outlets

April 15, 2021

After independent portals in Gornji Milanovac, Valjevo and Čačak got their own doppelgänger sites – as a “twin site” with the same name and design, but a different web address and a different (pro-government) editorial policy – the same has happened to well-known Niš-based regional portal Južne Vesti [Southern News].

The newsroom of this outlet warned the public and its readers that a fake Južni Vesti portal had been created with the aim of confusing the public and liquidating that which Južne Vesti has been building over the last 10 years.” It is notable that the plagiarised portal targetted Južni vesti editor-in-chief Gordana Bjeletić with a series of articles.

Associations of journalists and media companies that are gathered together within the Coalition for Media Freedom warned that, despite all the reports and public appeals, the fake Južni Vesti site is still functioning and continuing to deceive the public, peddling untruths about members of the actual newsroom. Reporters Without Borders called on representatives of the Serbian authorities to investigate Južni Vesti’s complaints regarding the activities of the fake website and sought for Culture and Information Minister Maja Gojković to offer support to the journalists of this Niš-based portal.