United Against Falsehoods: How Kosovo and Czechia Can Overcome Disinformation

Despite their different historical backgrounds and societal fabrics, Kosovo and Czechia face nearly identical challenges when it comes to the issue of disinformation and the obstacles to countering this threat. In both countries, state institutions lack the capabilities needed to combat disinformation effectively. Increasingly, people are turning to social media for news, where algorithms often prioritize emotionally charged, misleading content over factual information. Additionally, civil society organizations in both countries are hindered by limited resources and reach. The pervasive reach of disinformation makes it difficult for individual actors to counter it effectively on their own. Recognizing this, Czech democratic forces have begun to pool resources and collaborate to enhance their impact, striving for a whole-of-society approach that is essential for genuinely strengthening societal resilience. This article offers several proven strategies from Czechia, that could also be beneficial if implemented in Kosovo. Similar to Kosovo, Czech state institutions continue to face challenges due to bureaucratic slowness and a lack of capacity, which prevents them from responding promptly and flexibly to the rapidly evolving nature of disinformation. One example is the education sector which has been resistant to change and effective reform for decades resulting in a lack of emphasis on media and AI literacy.
To address this, Czech schools and teachers are collaborating with media, civil society, and influencers to better equip students against online dangers. For example, the Czech branch of ‘People in Need’ has developed an online database with materials on disinformation and related topics, serving as a valuable resource for educators. Several media and CSOs including ‘Seznam’, ‘Association for International Affairs’ (AMO), and ‘FakeScape’ offer interactive workshops for students and teachers. Influencers like ‘Kovy’ also contribute by creating educational materials designed to be as attractive for students as possible. Kosovo could adopt similar educational practices, potentially adding a focus on history to unify the diverse curricula of its ethnic groups. Such efforts could be particularly effective if delivered by members of these communities, making the information more relatable and impactful. Targeting the younger generation, less tainted by direct historical experience, could prove effective.
The media landscape in Czechia has too recognized its limitations as audiences increasingly turn to social media, where disinformation is rampant due to a lack of regulatory oversight and editorial standards. In response, Czech media have partnered with influencers to reach these digital audiences more effectively. An example of this is the collaboration between influencer Johana Bázlerová and the media outlet ‘Respekt’ which focused on delivering accurate news coverage on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Similarly, fact-checking organizations in Czechia, realizing the limited reach of their efforts, have partnered with media outlets to share their content more widely, particularly during critical times like elections. This approach could also be beneficial in Kosovo, where fact-checking entities face similar challenges in reaching a broader audience.
Finally, the cooperation between Czech CSOs and the private sector has shown as pivotal, especially in efforts to demonetize disinformation. For instance, the ‘Prague Security Studies Institute’ (PSSI) works with various business and marketing associations, as well as specific companies, on brand safety. This collaboration aims to demonetize disinformation, which has become a lucrative industry for some in Czechia. PSSI has developed lists of problematic websites and social media channels that companies can blacklist when placing ads. This prevents them from inadvertently funding disinformation or tarnishing their reputation by appearing on disreputable sites. Additionally, PSSI conducts workshops to improve digital and media literacy among employees of these companies. Adopting similar strategies of demonetization and business collaboration could also be effective in Kosovo, where disinformation has been a profitable venture too.
Overall, uniting to overcome divisive disinformation could be one of the least complicated strategies for both Czechia and Kosovo to effectively counter disinformation. Those committed to this fight should collaborate more to amplify their impact, a strategy that remains out of reach for disinformation spreaders competing for audiences.

This article was written in the framework of the project “Countering False Information in Kosovo: Experience-Sharing between V4 and Prishtina”, supported by The Visegrad Fund

Author: Nikoleta Nemečkayová, an analyst at the “Association for International Affairs” (AMO) focused on disinformation, media freedom and communication strategic. Before joining AMO, she was part of the “Democracy and Resistance” team at GLOBSEC and the program “Kremlin Watch” in “Centre European Values for Security Policies”, where she focused on monitoring and analyzing the spread of disinformation and pro-Russian propaganda in Europe Central and Eastern. Previously, she worked on the same topics for the initiative of the institute “Adapt Infosecurity.sk”.

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