Ylva Johansson

People Love This Viral Photo of a Woman Waiting for the Train ‘She’s Just Like Everyone Else’

In 2020, a woman went viral — for waiting for a train. A Facebook page shared a photo of a woman named Ylva Johansson sitting at a train station with a sandwich on her lap. The caption commented on how Johansson is going home from her job like everyone else. Except, at the time of the photo, Johansson was the Swedish Minister of Labor. The post garnered almost one and a half million views — but it wasn’t entirely a true story.

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Life as a Minister…”

The post’s caption reads as follows: “In this photo, a woman is waiting for the train to go home, holding a sandwich. This woman’s name is Ylva Johansson. She went to her job, she worked, she goes home – like every woman, like every citizen… I just want to point out that this woman is the Swedish minister of labor…”

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But this isn’t quite the case. Ylva Johansson was the Swedish Minister of Labor from 2014 to 2019. But when the photo went viral in October 2020, the Minister of Labor was Eva Nordmark. Meanwhile, Johansson had begun to serve as the Internal Affairs Member of the European Commission. [1]

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Also, the photo was not taken by a candid bystander. Rather, it was initially posted on Johansson’s verified Instagram account on November 6, 2018 — when she was still the Minister of Labor. The caption (translated from Swedish) read as: “Life as a minister is pure glitter and glamour. Dinner (with lunch box) at the station in Alvesta after talking about the unequal labor market and what is required for women and men to get fair conditions at a meeting with S-kvinnor (Social Democratic Party Women’s Clubs) in Kronoberg.[2]

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Therefore, the viral Facebook photo is misleading although it’s not completely false. After all, the original photo was taken when Johansson was the Minister of Labor, accompanied by a post poking fun at how unexpectedly unglamorous her work is sometimes. But it was not taken in 2020. And there’s no confirmation that Johansson takes the train regularly since her Instagram post only mentions a specific meeting.

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More About Ylva Johansson

The post also neglects to discuss Ylva Johansson’s prolific career. After earning her Master of Science degree in education, she worked as a physics, math, and chemistry teacher. But in 1988, she was elected as a member of the Riksdag for the Left Party. She later switched to the Social Democratic party.

She continued teaching from 1992 to 1994 until Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson made her Minister for Schools. But after several years she left her position and worked in the private sector. Then Prime Minister Göran Persson in 2004 appointed her as Minister for Health and Elderly Care. And finally, from 2014 to 2019, she served as Minister of Labor, and the viral photo was taken. [3]

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And finally, she became a member of the European Commission. Her most recent work includes a proposal to strengthen the laws to prevent and combat human trafficking. But she made waves in May 2022 when she proposed legislation to obligate companies to screen the private communications of all of their employees for hints of child abuse. 

Detection, reporting and removal of child sexual abuse online is urgently needed to prevent the sharing of images and videos of the sexual abuse of children, which retraumatises the victims often years after the sexual abuse has ended,” said Ylva Johansson. [4]

But this proposal received criticism for being intrusive and introducing mass surveillance. The scientific service of the German Bundestag later dismissed the proposal, saying it was illegal to allow open-ended surveillance of private communication and because it would be impossible to fully differentiate between legal and illegal communication. [5]

Keep Reading: The Hidden Message On This California License Plate Has Gone Viral

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Sources

  1. “Is the Person Waiting for the Train in the Photo the Swedish Minister of Labor?” Dogrulukpayi. Berna Buyukbayrak. October 21, 2020
  2. Ylva Johannson. Instagram. November 6, 2018
  3. “Commissioner: Ylva Johansson.” European Commission
  4. “Planned EU rules to protect children online are attack on privacy, warn critics.” The Guardian. Alex Hern. May 12, 2022
  5. “Chat control should not come into effect like this.Netspolitik. German Bundestag. August 14, 2022
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