This research aims to create a better understanding of disinformation and hateful propaganda models of media and communication in Kosovo’s media landscape.
As Kosovo has a unique media model that allows very little room for propaganda and hate speech in its media, this paper explores content in media and social media and how such content triggers hate commentary, propaganda and inappropriate rivalry on social media. It focuses on several mainstream media and a few handpicked Facebook groups and explains some of the significant irregularities. The reality is that these cases represent a larger pool of cases of disinformation and hateful propaganda.
This publication was produced within Resilience: Civil Society for Media Free of Hate and Disinformation, a regional project financially supported by the European Union and implemented in the Western Balkans and Turkey by a consortium of media development organizations led by SEENPM. It is part of a series of publications on the same general topic researched in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey (all publications are available on the SEENPM website).
The Kosovar media model built upon the media as a national identity builder, conflict reporting and substantial international intervention with funding for the professionalization of journalism leaves no room for hate speech. Indeed, hate speech is almost non-existent in professional media outlets. The bad news is that plenty of offensive content and hate speech is spread by non-regulated online platforms and social media.
With the advent of social media and democratization of communication, there is increasing presence of hate speech and propaganda in social media. Even if such content is featured mostly in comments sections, prompt action must be taken, the paper argues.
Derogatory hate speech words can be found in Facebook posts, tweets and other comments. A recent fact-checking initiative to collaborate with Facebook to remove disinformation content, hate speech and abusive commentary is a very welcome development for Kosovo, the paper explains.
Some of the news portals are a one-man show, without regular editorial filters. They often spread disinformation and sometimes also hate content. Above all, one can see also discriminatory language towards women, and gender hate speech is increasing.
In combination with ethnic slurs, gender-based hate speech is directed against members of ethnically diverse families.
Steps to be taken in Kosovo to address hate speech in social media should include media and information education. Addressing critical thinking, open discussion, tolerance and difference in opinion should start as early as primary and secondary school. This should be addressed by the institutions in charge of education curricula, the paper argues adding that pupils should be introduced to the subject with courses on social media and digital media because they are already exposed to such media in early childhood.
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Funded by the European Union
The regional program ‘RESILIENCE: Civil society action to reaffirm media freedom and counter disinformation and hateful propaganda in Western Balkans and Turkey’ is implemented with the financial support of the European Union by partner organizations SEENPM, Albanian Media Institute, Mediacentar Sarajevo, Kosovo 2.0, Montenegrin Media Institute, Macedonian Institute for Media, Novi Sad School of Journalism, Peace Institute and Bianet.
This article was produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of SEENPM and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.