Kosovar Centre for Security Studies
The Balkan Trust for Democracy, USAID
Shpat Balaj, Skender Perteshi
This report is an attempt to document instances of disinformation and political polarization during the COVID-19 pandemic in Kosovo and to trace their implications in shaping the public’s attitudes to the pandemic and the pandemic’s management.
Through a set of mixed methods, which include desk research, media monitoring, focus group queries and public opinion instruments, the report identifies the most frequent disinformation narratives encountered in Kosovo’s public domain, studies the way they connect to global and regional narratives related to COVID-19 pandemic and investigates how key upheavals in the country’s political environment undermined Kosovo’s vaccination bid and contributed to public’s vaccines reluctance and the subsequent record number of deaths.
Through examples in Kosovo, the report corroborates recent scholarly finds that examine the public’s trust in government and that country’s vulnerability to disinformation. The report shows that the trust towards the institutions, and the politicization of public health issues, affects the public perceptions around public health issues, resulting in an environment with more potential for the penetration of disinformation.
In this vein, the report concludes that the mainstream media’s efforts to produce and provide credible information to the public about COVID-19 is challenged by the presence of false and fake news and conspiracies about the virus and the pandemic disseminated primarily through social media and unverified online sources.
The translated version in Serbian language can be found here.