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After "Recognizing" Kosovo, Facebook Denies Political Agency

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, November 26 2013

Until 2008 Kosovo didn't have its own flag. Now it also has Facebook status. (matt.lutton/flickr)

After Facebook finally listed Kosovo as its own country, rather than lumping it together with Serbia, from which it declared independence more than five years ago, the Kosovo Minister of European Integration, Vlora Citaku, tweeted that Facebook “recognizes” Kosovo as a state, and tagged her comment #digitaldiplomacy. When Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reached out to Facebook for comment, however, the company was quick to distance itself from any political agency that it might be ascribed.

In an email to RFE/RL, a Facebook representative wrote:

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.

Yet for Kosovo activists and politicians alike, it is clearly a significant move and an accomplishment, of sorts.

The BBC reported that a deputy minister in Kosovo's Foreign Affairs Ministry, Petrit Selimi, said he was “ecstatic” about Facebook's decision. He added that it is the result of "a major part of the diplomatic efforts of a young republic."

The country even has a Digital Diplomacy Strategy that includes volunteers petitioning Internet companies like Facebook to list Kosovo as a country.

Similar political agency was ascribed to Google when they changed the page name for Google.ps from “Palestinian Territories” to “Palestine.” At the time, Google also distanced themselves from politics.

Personal Democracy Media is grateful to the Omidyar Network and the UN Foundation for their generous support of techPresident's WeGov section.

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