Photo: BIRN

BIRN Study Reveals Kosovo’s Inability to Combat Disinformation

A stark deficiency in Kosovo's institutional capacity to confront the rising tide of disinformation has been laid bare by a recent investigation conducted by BIRN Kosovo.

A recent investigation by BIRN Kosovo has uncovered the extensive web of disinformation ensnaring Kosovo. 

The study sheds light on a disconcerting landscape where misleading narratives, fueled by foreign influences, not only strain relations between Kosovo Albanians and Serbs but also erode trust in NATO and EU integration efforts.

The study underscored a glaring lack of capacity within Kosovo’s institutions to effectively tackle the issue of disinformation. Judicial bodies, in particular, have proven inadequate in handling such cases, with the absence of specialised departments dedicated to combating disinformation, as outlined in the report.

“The report is the first of its kind in Kosovo that draws the map of where the lies are coming from exactly by identifying the media (social and mainstream media) complicit in spreading disinformation in 345 footnotes and over 100 pages” said Jeta Xharra, editor of this report and director of BIRN Kosovo.

“This report has not been conducted to blame certain groups of our society. It has been made as a warning to show how unresilient our society is to lies,” said Jeta Xharra, the executive director of BIRN Kosovo and the editor of the report. 

“This report represents one of our most comprehensive efforts to map desinformation. It reflects extensive work and dedication to ensure accuracy in every detail,” she added, in the opening speech of the report launch on Monday. 

The report highlighted a noteworthy lack of awareness among a considerable portion of public officials, as evidenced by their participation in focus groups and in the experiments. Many of them demonstrated a limited understanding of disinformation campaigns orchestrated by external influences. 

Key challenges identified include the absence of comprehensive media literacy programs and the education system’s limited capacity to deliver media education.

As a result, Kosovo’s society remains susceptible to disinformation, despite data indicating its severe impact on public opinion.

“We have not dealt with all the disinformation that is spread in our country and the data that are here have only three sources of information. Those who deal with disinformation know that false news does not come only from specific sources, but from multiple sources. If we were to analyse all the disinformation that circulates in Kosovo, we would have to write a report that is longer than 1000 pages, more than 1000 narratives, more than 1000 problems that we have,” said Kreshnik Gashi, managing editor of Kallxo and one of the authors of the report, during the launching of the report, on Monday. 

A significant percentage of the population faces challenges in distinguishing accurate information, lacking the necessary knowledge to identify instances of disinformation. This demographic is particularly prominent on social media platforms, notably Facebook, which serves as a primary conduit for the dissemination of disinformation.

The absence of criminal investigations into cyber attacks targeting the media compounds the issue. The data further underscored that those behind disinformation employ various techniques, manipulating videos, photographs, and written content.

Despite Kosovo boasting a dynamic, free, and relatively democratic media market, professional media outlets frequently fall prey to disinformation, the study found. This occurrence is not solely due to political or business pressures but rather stems from the absence of robust editorial policies to identify and counter the dissemination of disinformation originating from sources like Russia and China.

The report advocated for heightened collaboration among stakeholders, the development and implementation of media literacy programs, and the establishment of robust fact-checking mechanisms within media organisations.

The full report can be found here.

27/11/2023 - 12:47

27 November 2023 - 12:47

Prishtina Insight is a digital and print magazine published by BIRN Kosovo, an independent, non-governmental organisation. To find out more about the organization please visit the official website. Copyright © 2016 BIRN Kosovo.