Tuesday, August 30, 2016


Kosovo Gets A Facebook 'Like'

The world's largest social network, Facebook, has finally listed Kosovo as its own country -- more than five years after the breakaway territory proclaimed independence from Serbia and after more than 100 countries around the world have extended formal recognition.

The French news agency AFP, on November 20, reported that Kosovars who wanted to create or promote a Facebook account would now have the option of choosing "Kosovo" as their location. Until now most users simply had the option of "Serbia."

The move affected some 200,000 Facebook users in Kosovo, who overnight were shifted from Serbia (or in some cases Albania) to Kosovo.

Kosovo's prime minister, Hashim Thaci, welcomed the move, saying that senior Facebook executives had informed him earlier in the week about the company's decision. He said it would have especially positive effects for Kosovo businesses.

Kosovo's minister for EU integration, Vlora Citaku, went even further in her enthusiasm, stating on her Twitter account that Facebook now "recognizes Kosovo as a state." She included the hashtag #digitaldiplomacy with the tweet, underscoring the increasing importance that social-media websites have for smaller, emerging countries like Kosovo.

Facebook confirmed the move to RFE/RL, though was quick to tamp down any suggestion that Facebook had the power to "recognize" Kosovo (or indeed any other country).

Facebook said in an email to RFE/RL: "Companies have clearly no role to play in the formal recognition of countries as this is a matter for the international community to decide. We do try to ensure that our service meets the needs of our users and so will offer options for checking in and targeting communications that reflect geographical designations that are in common usage."

The move appeared to validate the activities of groups like DigitalKosovo and others who have tried to raise public awareness of the importance to the economy of being correctly identified by websites like Facebook (as well as other e-commerce sites like hotel-bookers, car-rental agencies, and internet retailers).

The move is likely to help smaller, independent entrepreneurs most of all.

In a report, RFE/RL's Balkan Service cited a 22-year-old Kosovo-based fashion designer, Besa Hoxha, who had long planned to set up her own business to promote local designers through Facebook but was thwarted by the "Serbia" designation.

With Facebook's decision now to list Kosovo as a location, she said it will be easier to find and promote local designers. For potential buyers outside the country, it will also be easier to identify Kosovo-based businesses.

In addition to helping Kosovo, the move underscores the overwhelming -- and sometimes uncomfortable -- importance of Facebook with its approximately 1.2 billion monthly active users.

Facebook did not comment on what prompted it in this instance to identify Kosovo as a location, but clearly the move has vast implications -- and not just for Kosovo's relatively small user base.

Facebook and companies like it, including Twitter and LinkedIn, can improve or diminish access to the digital economy for whole countries seemingly with the flip of a switch. At least Kosovars now appear to be in charge of their own domain.

-- Mark Baker
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Moe from: Chicago
November 21, 2013 07:43
Dislike... Kosovo is a fake made up "country." It was Serbian for hundreds of years and always will be, no matter what the US and their Albanian puppets think.
In Response

by: Ana from: Pristina
November 21, 2013 20:26
Oh Moe, really? Hundreds of years? Do you even read anything? Kosovo is recognized by more than 100 UN countries. Even dreaming for Kosovo being part of Serbia is bad for your health. If your brain suggests you the contrary I really suggest you to go and visit a psychiatrist
In Response

by: Camel Anaturk from: Kurdistan
November 22, 2013 11:56
We all like Kosovo and look forward to the day when Azerbaydjan will recognize the great country`s independence!!!This is the best way towards United Europe -we must give independence to all backward peasant provinces,before we unite them all into Great Albania as our spiritual ana and ata Recep Tayip Mad Dog an recently stated:Kosovo is Turkey and Bosnya,too!!! We are all Kosovars today and turkeys tomorrow!!!
In Response

by: Visar from: Pristina
November 21, 2013 20:58
Moe, you are probably a serbian. All I can say to you, I am sorry for you :).
In Response

by: DADDY from: prishtina
November 23, 2013 02:00
kosovo was always albanians and serbs are came from russia here in kosovo, the real thruth is that this land is calling iliria which means freedom in alb language . and serbs know that very well but they are all millosevic passions

by: mikhail from: moscow
November 23, 2013 02:10
congratulation for kosovo republic is great place with the great people russia will accept kosovo but putin only men doesnt recognize kosovo as a state thats a difrent betwen us and him .

by: Jack from: Balkans
November 28, 2013 19:24
What is with the RFL's bias on all issues surrounding Kosovo? I'm totally neutral, not being from either side, but it really erks me when the entire article doesn't mention a single negative side effect of Kosovo's self-proclaimed independence. The sentence:

more than five years after the breakaway territory proclaimed independence from Serbia and after more than 100 countries around the world have extended formal recognition.

...what about all the countries that _haven't_ recognised it? What about the effect on international law? What about the state of the territory now, rife with criminals and massive unemployment? What about Camp Bondsteel, the largest NATO base in existence, camped out right on their doorstep?

It's fine by me to do a pro-Kosovo article if one wants to, but for God's sake, at least give the other side a little room to breathe - that's what good journalism is.

by: JD from: USA
November 29, 2013 07:41
Serbia is Kosovo
UN Resolution 1244 is still the only legal document which states that. No matter how much drug and killer money the Albanians try and use will not change the truth: Serbia is Kosovo.

by: Brazilian Guy from: São Paulo
December 03, 2013 07:20
Kosovo was Ottoman for hundreds of years, not Serbian. Since any kind of census took place in its territory, the majority of the population spoke Albanian. And when the Mladic and Karadzic-lovers say about 1244, in fact they are trying to bring back 1389…

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at transmission+rferl.org

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