NGO Aktiv, in cooperation with NDI Kosovo, held a discussion with young people and activists of non-governmental organizations from Gračanica/Graçanicë on the topic “Information integrity challenges: growing threat to democracy in Kosovo”.
The information disorder and raising citizens’ awareness of this phenomenon were the main topics of discussion between young people and experienced journalists from the Serbian speaking media from Kosovo and media experts.
At the beginning of the discussion, Nikola Djakovich, from NDI Kosovo, presented the key findings of the annual report “Information integrity challenges: growing threat to democracy in Kosovo”.
Based on the report, as Djakovich pointed out, disinformation, unreliable and malicious information, as well as inflammable vocabulary represent a threat to the media environment in Kosovo. “Although citizens are often aware of these phenomena, there is a lack of regular fact-checking”, he said.
Media experts talked about the increasing influence of misinformation, how digital life dynamics shape our reality, what dangers and opportunities it brings. The importance of fact-checking was stressed, because they influence decision-making and planning for the future.
Young people talked about dealing with fake news, misinformation, propaganda, discussing how they are created and with what purpose. Young people from Gračanica/Graçanicë indicated that they mostly follow portals and content on social networks, primarily on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.
They pointed out that they are aware the contents should be checked because, as they noted, “everyone presents their side and their part of the truth”. Serbian language media most often being divided “between those who support the government and those who support the opposition” was pointed out as one of the main problems.
Young people said that they mainly do not follow the Kosovo Albanian media because the language represents an obstacle, but that it would be good if all communities were informed about what is happening in Kosovo.
“A lot of young people are naive and they are threatened by many online threats, we need to fight against these problems”, it was said at the meeting.
Before Gračanica/Graçanicë, a discussion with young people, media representatives and activists of non-governmental organizations on the topic of information integrity was held in Goraždevac/Gorazhdevc, Štrpce/Shtërpcë and North Mitrovica. At these expert talks, it was also discussed how to expose and fight against disruptions in the truthfulness of information, as an important step for preserving democratic processes in society.
The participants pointed out the problems they encounter while monitoring the media and social networks, they pointed out the noticeable spread of fake news, the presence of suspicious portals and profiles, and emphasized the necessity of raising awareness about these problems.
It was pointed out that the implementation of editorial responsibility, the professional development of the media, as well as the education of citizens, are the key issues that need to be investigated in order to maintain the integrity of information.