Share Your Experience: Violations on Social Media

Have you ever reported any violations on Facebook or Twitter? Was your report processed, content deleted or suspended, or the harassment, violence or hate speech continued? Tell us your story.

We’re looking for people who are willing to share their experience with us to help in a story we’re currently working on. Scroll down for information on how to take part.

The key things we want to know:

  • What type of violations have you reported?
  • In what language was the content?
  • How was the report processed?

What do we consider to be violations of social media community guidelines:

  • Violent threats (direct or indirect)
  • Harassment, which entails inciting or engaging in the targeted abuse or harassment of others
  • Hateful conduct, which entails promoting violence against or directly attacking or threatening other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability or disease.

Things to note:

We are looking for social media users that reported content in the Bosnian, Serbian, Montenegrin, Albanian, and Macedonian languages. We want to hear as many different experiences from all around Southeast Europe.

Your stories will be used to help us with an ongoing investigation.

How to take part?

To submit your experience, all you need to do is fill out this form.

You can also contact us via email: readerstories@birn.eu.com.

Or you can reach us on social media…

FB: @balkaninsight

TW: @balkaninsight

We’ll need to receive your application by midnight, January 15, 2021.

BIRN Kosovo Chairs Debate on Oversight of Spending in Viti/Vitina

On December 24, BIRN Kosovo held a town hall conference in Viti/Vitina on the role of the National Audit Office, NAO, and citizens in overseeing municipal revenues and expenses, the fifth organised within the framework of the Promoting the Auditor General/NAO’s role in Kosovo project.

On December 24, BIRN Kosovo held a town hall conference in Viti/Vitina on the role of the National Audit Office, NAO, and citizens in overseeing municipal revenues and expenses, the fifth organised within the framework of the Promoting the Auditor General/NAO’s role in Kosovo project.

Supported by the Netherlands’ embassy in Kosovo, these town hall conferences are intended to examine the difficulties municipalities face in collecting revenue and executing their budgets. They also present the findings of the Auditor General, with an emphasis on those relating to public finances.

Present at the conference on Thursday were the Mayor of Viti/Vitina, Sokol Haliti, the head of the Audit Department for Municipalities at the NAO, Astrit Bllaca, and Visar Prebreza, Managing Editor at BIRN’s KALLXO.com.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the debate was attended by a limited number of participants from the municipality, as well as representatives of civil society and members of the municipal assembly. The conference was streamed live on BIRN’s anti-corruption platform KALLXO.com.

Prebreza presented the Auditor’s findings from the 2019 report on the municipality, stating that the municipality should be focused on reducing its debts.

“The Municipality of Viti is one of the municipalities that has received the fewest number of recommendations in its 2019 report,” Prebreza said. “However, the municipality’s debts have increased slightly, and this is a concern, especially as debts in most municipalities are decreasing.”

Mayor Haliti promised that the municipality would act soon on all the NAO recommendations. “We will become the first municipality to implement all of the given recommendations from the NAO,” he declared.

Child Protection NGOs Award Journalists Supported by BIRN Kosovo

On December 29 Behar Mustafa, a journalist at KALLXO.com, and Agon Sinanaj, who contributed an investigative story to BIRN’s English language newspaper Prishtina Insight, were recognised at the 2020 Awards for Journalism on Social and Child Protection. Both received prizes from KOMF, a Coalition of NGOs for Child Protection in Kosovo.

Mustafa was awarded for his TV reportage, “Smuggling Children to Italy,” which was broadcast as part of BIRN’s Justice in Kosovo television programme.

The story shed light on minors aged 16 to 18 being smuggled from Kosovo to Italy, with the investigation following the whole journey.

The footage revealed how the young people were in constant danger throughout the route, including when crossing borders with false identity documents alongside unknown companions.

Meanwhile, freelance journalist Sinanaj was also awarded for his feature story for Prishtina Insight, which looked into the lives of families caring for children with disabilities. The article was also published on BIRN’s KALLXO.com.

KOMF awarded a total of seven prizes to journalists for their work in the field of child protection. Other winners included Ardita Rashiti, a journalist at T7, Donika Gashi and Rina Mujku, from Klan Kosova, Drite Slivova-Polisi, of KTV, and Kaltrina Rexhepi-Dragusha, of RTK.

The prizes were awarded as part of the “Strengthening Social Services for Vulnerable Children and Families” project, which is funded by the Swiss embassy in Kosovo and implemented by KOMF. The awards were also supported by Joint Action for Decentralization, a project funded by the European Union and implemented by KOMF in partnership with SOS, OFAP, and KMPF.

BIRN Kosovo Gives Awards for Investigative Reporting on Corruption

BIRN Kosovo on December 18 gave three journalists awards for the best investigative reports about corruption in public spending over the past year, as part of a project entitled Promoting the Auditor General/NAO’s Role in Kosovo.

The winning stories were selected by a jury comprised of Kreshnik Gashi, Mexhide Demolli, Dafina Halili, Leart Hoxha and Mustafa Skenderi from a total of nine entries, all of which were broadcast on TV or published online between October 1, 2019 to September 30, 2020.

First prize was awarded to journalist Besnik Boletini for his investigative article entitled “Ineffective Millions”, which analysed investments in agriculture through grants and subsidies.

Over 238 million euros have been invested in agriculture using these methods, with experts arguing that the investment has produced few tangible results. Levels of imports and exports were examined as part of the investigation, which highlighted the ineffectiveness of the huge public investment into the agriculture sector.

Arta Berisha was awarded second prize for her investigation entitled “Advertising the Government’s Work Online”, which shed light on dozens of contracts, signed by ministries with news websites and other sites, which did not respect tendering procedures, the Law on Public Procurement and professional ethics.

Third place went to Merita Berisha-Prebreza for her investigation entitled “Temporary Contracts that Deny Workers Rights”. The article examined salaries paid to over 2,000 people employed every year by public institutions through so-called Special Service Agreements, often without competition and in violation of the law.

The investigation revealed that public money is often spent on providing financial support for people connected to political parties, as well as party activists.

Promoting the Auditor General/NAO’s Role in Kosovo is supported by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and is being implemented by BIRN Kosovo.

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Ndahen çmimet gazetareske për hulumtimet më të mira në fushën e shpenzimeve publike

Juria profesionale i ka bërë publike (18 dhjetor)vlerësimet për gazetarët në kuadër të thirrjes për tri hulumtimet më të mira në fushën e shpenzimeve publike.

Çmimet janë ndarë në kuadër të projektit ‘Promovimi i rolit të Auditorit të Përgjithshëm / ZKA në Kosovë’, i mbështetur nga Ambasada e Mbretërisë së Holandës/Ministria e Punëve të Jashtme e Holandës dhe i implmentuar nga BIRN Kosova.

Për këto çmime, në garë kanë qenë 9 storie të publikuara në televizione dhe media online nga data 1 tetor 2019 deri më 30 shtator 2020.

Juria në përbërje Kreshnik Gashi, Mexhide Demolli, Leart Hoxha, Dafina Halili dhe Mustafa Skenderi kanë vlerësuar çmimin e parë  hulumtimin e gazetarit, Besnik Boletini. Çmimi i dytë është ndarë për hulumtimin e gazetares Arta Berisha, ndërsa çmimi i tretë është ndarë për gazetaren Merita Berisha-Prebreza.

Çmimi për gazetarin Besnik Boletini është ndarë për hulumtimin “Milionat e paefektshme”. Ky hulumtim shqyrton investimet e bëra në fushën e bujqësisë përmes granteve dhe subvencioneve. Mbi 238 milionë euro janë investuar në bujqësi në këtë mënyrë, me ekspertë që argumentojnë se paratë kanë treguar pak rezultate. Nivelet e importeve dhe eksporteve u analizuan si pjesë e hetimit, i cili nënvizoi jo-efektivitetin e investimeve të mëdha publike në këtë sektor. Hulumtimi mund të lexohet në këtë link.

Çmimi për gazetaren Arta Berisha është ndarë për hulumtimin “Reklamimi i punës së qeverisë në internet”. Ky hulumtim zbulon mbi dhjetëra kontrata të nënshkruara nga ministritë me portalet e lajmeve dhe faqet e internetit të tjera në kundërshtim me procedurat e tenderimit, Ligjin për Prokurimin Publik dhe etikën profesionale. Arta Berisha zbulon se sekretarët e përgjithshëm të ministrive, si dhe zyrtarë të tjerë, e kanë trajtuar buxhetin e shtetit sikur të ishin paratë e tyre, duke shpërndarë shuma të mëdha portaleve në kundërshtim me legjislacionin. Hulumtimi mund të lexohet në këtë link.

Çmimi për gazetaren Merita Berisha-Prebreza është ndarë për hulumtimin “Kontrata afatshkurta që mohojnë të drejtat e punëtorëve”. Ky hulumtim shqyrton pagat e paguara për mbi 2,000 persona të punësuar çdo vit nga institucionet publike përmes Marrëveshjeve për shërbime të veçanta, shpesh pa konkurrencë dhe në kundërshtim me ligjin. Hulumtimi zbulon se paratë publike shpesh shpenzohen për të siguruar mbështetje financiare për njerëzit e lidhur me partitë politike, si dhe militantët e partive. Hulumtimi mund të ndiqet në këtë link.

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Dodeljene nagrade za najbolje novinarske priče iz oblasti javnih troškova

Stručni žiri BIRN Kosova objavio je svoje ocene (18. decembra) za novinarke i novinare, u okviru poziva za tri najbolja istraživanja iz oblasti javnih troškova.

Nagrade su dodeljene u okviru projekta „Promovisanje uloge generalnog revizora/ NKR na Kosovu,“ čiju je realizaciju podržala ambasada Kraljevine Holandije/Ministarstvo spoljnih poslova Holandije, a koji realizuje BIRN Kosovo.

Za ove nagrade, u konkurenciji je bilo devet istraživačkih priča objavljenih na televiziji i onlajn medijima od 1. oktobra 2019. do 30. septembra 2020. godine.

Žiri u sastavu Krešnik Gaši, Medžide Demoli, Ljeart Hodža, Dafina Haljilji i Mustafa Skenderi dodelio je prvu nagradu istraživanju novinara, Besnika Boljetinija. Druga nagrada dodeljena je istraživanju novinarke Arte Beriša, dok je treća nagrada dodeljena novinarki Meriti Beriša-Prebreza.

Novinar Besnik Boljetini osvojio je prvu nagradu za istraživanje „Nedelotvorni milioni.” Ova priča istražuje investicije u poljoprivredi, putem grantova i subvencija. Više od 238 miliona evra uloženo je u poljoprivredu ovim putem, a stručnjaci tvrde da je sav taj novac dao malo rezultata. Nivoi uvoza i izvoza analizirani su kao deo istrage, koja je naglasila nedelotvornost velikih javnih investicija u ovom sektoru. Istraživanje možete pročitati na ovom linku.

Novinarki Arti Beriša dodeljena je nagrada za istraživanje „Reklamiranje rada vlade na internetu“. Ovo istraživanje razotkriva na desetine ugovora koja su ministarstva potpisala sa informativnim portalima i internet stranicama, u suprotnosti sa tenderskim postupcima, Zakonom o javnim nabavkama i profesionalnom etikom. Arta Beriša otkriva da su se generalni sekretari ministarstava, kao i drugi zvaničnici, prema državnom budžetu ponašali kao da se radi o njihovom vlastitom novcu, isplaćujući velike svote portalima u suprotnosti sa zakonom. Istraživanje možete pročitati na ovom linku.

Novinarki Meriti Beriša-Prebreza dodeljena je nagrada za istraživanje „Kratkoročni ugovori koji uskraćuju radnička prava“. Ovo istraživanje ispituje zarade isplaćene broju od preko 2,000 ljudi zaposlenih svake godine u javnim institucijama, ugovorima o posebnim uslugama, često mimo konkurencije i u suprotnosti sa zakonom. Istraživanje otkriva da se novac iz javne kase često troši da bi se obezbedila finansijska podrška ljudima povezanim sa političkim strankama, kao i stranačkim militantima. Istraživanje možete pročitati na ovom linku.

 

EU Investigative Journalism Awards Announced in Serbia

Adam Santovac, Jelena Veljkovic, Aleksandar Djordjevic, Nemanja Rujevic, Sanja Kljajic and Ajdin Kamber were announced on December 29 as the winners of this year’s EU Awards for Investigative Journalism, given for stories published in 2019 in Serbia.

The first place for the best investigative story published in 2019 and a cash prize of 5,000 euros went to Adam Santovac for the documentary ‘Super Graduate’, which was broadcast by N1 TV.

The jury said that ‘Super Graduate’ was a very important investigation about corruption in the higher education system, “an area in which the consequences are long-term and unforeseeable, and essentially affect all segments of life in the country”.

The jury praised Santovac for his “in-depth research of numerous, difficult-to-access data outside the borders of Serbia”.

“I think the key to the success of the documentary ‘Super Graduate’ is in its simplicity,” Santovac said in a recorded acceptance speech.

“So, working on this documentary, I managed to fulfill the most basic journalistic function, and that is not only to ask, but also to help people find answers to certain questions,” he added.

BIRN Serbia journalists Jelena Veljkovic and Aleksandar Djordjevic were awarded second place and a cash prize of 3,000 euros for the series of articles about the so-called Krusik affair, which centred on alleged corruption at the state-owned Krusik arms company.

The jury said that Veljkovic and Djordjevic “managed not only to point out direct links between top public officials and serious abuse, but also to prove the existence of the entire system in which the state appears as a guarantor in dirty business”.

The two journalists dedicated the award to Aleksandar Obradovic, a whistleblower from the Krusik factory who first spoke out about the alleged wrongdoing.

The third place and a cash prize of 2,000 euros went to Deutsche Welle journalists Nemanja Rujevic, Sanja Kljajic and Ajdin Kamber for their story ‘The Industry of Leaving’, which dealt with the emigration of health workers and the corrupt practices that are rife in labour emigration.

“The authors, through a very detailed and comprehensive research, discovered and proved the existence of a whole new industry in Serbia which is export-oriented and does not bring benefit to the people living in that country, but takes away quality health workers and care,” the jury said.

Paul-Henri Presset, the head of the Information, Communication and Press Department at the EU Delegation to Serbia, said in a video message that the media plays an even more important role in disseminating reliable information in times of crisis, such the current pandemic.

“At the same time such vulnerable times inevitably open large space for disinformation, a trend that societies will be combating increasingly in the time to come. This is why it is particularly important that we have strong and capacitated media and journalists putting additional efforts in investigating facts on topics important for society,” said Presset.

The shortlisted investigative stories were evaluated by an international jury consisting of Predrag Blagojevic, founder and former editor-in-chief at Juzne Vesti, Valerie Hopkins, south-east Europe correspondent for the Financial Times and Bojan Pancevski, Germany correspondent for the Wall Street Journal.

The EU Awards for Investigative Journalism in Serbia is part of an ongoing EU-funded project entitled Strengthening Quality News and Independent Journalism in the Western Balkans and Turkey, implemented by BIRN Hub in partnership with Thomson Media gGmbH (TM), the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the European Broadcast Union (EBU), Central European University (CEU CDMS), the Media Association of South-East Europe (MASE), the Center for Investigative Journalism of Montenegro (CIN CG), the Independent Trade Union of Journalists and Media Workers (SSNM), BIRN Albania and BIRN Serbia. The aim of the project is to empower and support independent journalism and investigative journalists.

BIRN Serbia, as part of the consortium, provides technical support to the project but is not involved in the selection of awarded articles.

BIRN Kosovo Trains Auditors in Communication and Social Media Use

BIRN Kosovo held its second training session on writing techniques and the use of social media with the staff of the National Audit Office, NAO, on December 21, as part of the Promoting the Auditor General/NAO’s role in Kosovo, a project aimed at increasing transparency and accountability on the management of public funds.

Supported by the Netherlands embassy in Pristina, the training courses are intended to improve the performance of the Auditor General and NAO staff while writing, reporting and providing information on public spending.

The training session was attended by the Head of Communication and Professional Development Saranda Husajm and communications officer Shqipe Hetemi from the NAO. The course was divided into two sessions, the first held by Kreshnik Gashi, managing editor at KALLXO.com, and the second by Granit Mavriqi, media editor at KALLXO.com.

Gashi explained the fundamental elements of writing an article, news items and a social media status and how to present them on social networks. Mavriqi provided information on social media use and security.

BIRN Serbia Publishes Report on Media Financial Sustainability

BIRN Serbia published a new report on financial media sustainability in the digital environment on December 24 as a part of a project entitled Where is the Place of Media in New Internet Governance Policies?

One of the most significant issues for media financial sustainability in the digital environment is the influence of social media networks on the media economy and the crisis of traditional advertising models.

The digital environment brought new actors to the market, new production technology, new content distribution methods and new business models, and also threatened the financial survival of some media, the BIRN Serbia report finds.

Besides selling advertising space and producing media content, the state in Serbia still plays a crucial role in the media market, having a negative influence on market relations.

The digital ad market has had constant and stable growth but the most significant revenues have not gone to media outlets but to companies such as Google and Facebook for advertising on their platforms.

The value of the digital advertising market, according to data from the AdEx survey by IAB Serbia rose from 20 million euros in 2015 to 47.05 million euros in 2019.

Mobile advertising recorded the largest growth – a 60 per cent year-on-year rise from 2018 to 2019. Video advertising meanwhile recorded an increase of 45.67 per cent.

In 2019, 11.79 million euros was also spent on advertising on social networks, of which 10 million euros was spent on Facebook advertising alone.

An additional challenge to media is how to motivate the public to pay for the content it produces, bearing in mind the amount of free content that people can access online.

Local media are in a difficult situation facing the limited local advertising market, insufficient capacity to adjust to the online sphere, and non-transparent funds distribution by local self-government.

Financial sustainability plays a critical role in rethinking media policies directly correlated with media freedoms and editorial independence – the poorer media is, the more significant financial pressure it suffers. The third BIRN report encompasses the public direct financing model, online advertising, and copyrights issues.

Two other reports related to media and new internet governance policies and media policies in the digital environment are available on www.birnsrbija.rs.

BIRN Kosovo Holds Second Environmental Reporting Workshop

On December 9, BIRN Kosovo held the fifth in its series of debates on the findings of its audit monitoring project, which analyses reports on Kosovo municipalities published by the National Audit Office, NAO.

BIRN Kosovo and TV Mreza held a second workshop for journalists in Kosovo on December 23, providing training on how to best report issues related to energy efficiency and the environment.

The workshop was implemented within the Europeanisation of Kosovo’s Environmental Agenda project, which is funded by the EU Office in Kosovo. The project is focused on improving knowledge of and reporting on energy efficiency, as well as raising public awareness about the health benefits of using renewables and creating a clean environment.

Twelve local journalists attended the workshop, with representatives from News Press Production, TV Herc, TV Mir, TV Most, Epoka e Re, Euro Peja Information, as well as other independent and freelance journalists.

The workshop was conducted by Jeta Xharra, BIRN Kosovo’s country director,
Visar Prebreza and Kreshnik Gashi, BIRN Kosovo’s managing editors, Fatmir Gsrguri, an environmental expert, Aleksandar Djordjevic, an environmental journalist at BIRN Serbia, and Dragan Gmizic, a journalist and award-winning environmental film maker from Serbia.

During the workshop, Xharra discussed the problems of addressing environmental issues in Kosovo through journalism, while Prebreza outlined his and Xharra’s months-long investigation that exposed corruption in state-funded incentives for private solar power companies, which was published under the title “Unclean energy: The Kosovar Who Would Own the Sun”.

Gerguri meanwhile demonstrated the long-term effects of environmental degradation caused by the illegal exploitation of gravel, coal and other natural resources, as well as by the construction of infrastructure projects with low-quality materials.

Djordjevic outlined his investigations into illegal construction in protected areas in Serbia, while Gmizic talked through his eco-documentaries “Black Shadow of Green Energy” and “Flatland without Birds”, as well as his investigation into the illegal fishing trade.

Finally, Gashi spoke about the practical details of reporting on environmental crimes in Kosovo, using his investigations into the illegal exploitation of gravel that was broadcast as part of BIRN’s ‘Justice in Kosovo’ TV programme as an example.

The online workshop was held was the final one to be organised within the Europeanisation of Kosovo’s Environmental Agenda project.

Montenegro Renews Push to Extradite Fugitive Ex-President

New government in Montenegro has renewed a request to extradite Svetozar Marovic, ex-president of the former State Union of Serbia and Montenegro, who fled the country to avoid prison – after a BIRN investigation revealed the family’s business activities in Serbia.

Montenegro has renewed its request to extradite the ex-president of the former State Union of Serbia and Montenegro, Svetozar Marovic, from Serbia. It comes after a BIRN investigation revealed the Marovic family’s lucrative business interests in Serbia.

On Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic said the government had renewed the request, stressing that it expected cooperation on the matter with the Serbian government.

“I hope we will find a common language with Serbia and bring Marovic to justice. It is unjustified that Marovic walks freely in another country and that his son also performs activities in business [there],” Abazovic told a press conference.

In 2015, Marovic was accused of being the kingpin of a criminal group in his hometown coastal resort of Budva, and in May 2016 he signed two plea bargains under which he agreed to serve a prison sentence.

Under the first plea bargain, Marovic agreed to serve 30 months in prison and pay 50,000 euros to charity. Under the second, he agreed to an additional 20 months, a fine of 1.1 million euros, and to pay another 50,000 euros to charity. After he fled, an Interpol Red Notice was issued for his arrest.

Podgorica has been seeking his extradition from Serbia for three years, with two requests filed this year alone.

Montenegrin Minister of justice Vladimir Leposavic said the state would guarantee him fair treatment in Montenegro.

An investigation by BIRN showed that Marovic’s 37-year-old son, Milos, has since developed business interests in Serbia, having pleaded guilty to involvement in Montenegro to an illegal land sale in a village near Budva that prosecutors said cost municipality 1.4 million euros. In 2016, he was sentenced to one year in prison and ordered to repay 380,000 euros.

Both father and son have since fled, however, and have reportedly lived untouched in neighboring Serbia.

The BIRN investigation showed Milos Marovic owned thousands of acres of land in Serbia with an estimated value of over a million euros. Until early 2020, he also owned an agribusiness with assets of several hundred thousand euros, according to BIRN, and is registered as living in a luxury apartment block in the elite Vracar district of the Serbian capital Belgrade.

Svetozar Marovic was a co-founder of the Democratic Party of Socialists, DPS, which lost power this year after three decades of uninterrupted rule in Montenegro.

Between 2003 and 2006, he was president of the former State Union of Serbia and Montenegro, the last incarnation of an almost century-old union between the two countries that ended when Montenegro voted for independence.

Milos Marovic now holds Serbian citizenship. He had asked to spend his one–year prison sentence in Serbia, but has never served a day. Under Montenegrin law, the deadline for him to serve his penalty expired on September 16, 2020, pending a final decision by the Higher Court in Podgorica.