Information Integrity in Kosovo: Assessment of the Political Economy of Disinformation

Monday, July 25, 2022

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Information integrity is a growing concern to strong democracies globally, as unreliable and inaccurate information threaten citizens' ability to hold their government accountable. Since independence in 2008, Kosovo has progressed in establishing strong democratic institutions, but it continues to face political, ethnic, and gender-based tensions, as well as frequent instances of foreign interference and a high level of citizens online. These factors cultivate a ripe environment for disinformation, misinformation, and harmful content to spread quickly throughout society, posing a risk to public attitudes towards democratic principles.

NDI/Kosovo has been analyzing and strengthening the information space through a variety of interventions to better understand and assess these issues. To further these efforts, with the support of USAID, NDI/Kosovo conducted research from November 2020 through July 2022 to assess information integrity in Kosovo.

NDI/Kosovo analyzed the state of media and journalism, information integrity threats, legal and regulatory frameworks, as well as key steps to address these issues. It used a mixed methodological approach, including desk research, interviews, an online questionnaire, public polls, and workshops. 

This assessment identified several factors that challenge Kosovo's resilience to information threats, including weak media literacy, disinformation campaigns fueled by business and political interests, a lack of transparency of media finances and ownership, and poor cybersecurity mechanisms to combat foreign influences. Disinformation narratives are most prevalent in non-traditional media sources, including online and social media, which sometimes create and spread narratives containing false, exaggerated, or harmful information that exacerbate existing tensions. To address these challenges, NDI/Kosovo crafted recommendations based on its research findings. These focus on advancing information space strategies and regulations, particularly in line with EU standards, improving working conditions and capacities of media professionals, bolstering civil society, uplifting citizens, and increasing the role of political parties and institutions in information integrity. 

With this report, the Institute aims to encourage and empower key stakeholders in Kosovo to take the steps necessary to address and overcome threats to the information environment to preserve Kosovo’s democracy. NDI/Kosovo will continue to identify information threats and enhance the capacities and efforts of partners, individuals, and institutions to encourage strong protections against these threats and ensure a robust, reliable information environment in Kosovo.

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