Local News

Kosovo Crisis: War on the Web

Posted April 6, 1999 7:00 a.m. EDT

— The conflict over Kosovo is fought with more than bombs and missiles. It is a war of words spoken by diplomats, heads of state and Internet users around the world.

This is the first time the Internet has been used so widely to voice opinions about a military action.

Internet use has grown quickly since the Gulf War, and the World Wide Web is in fairly wide use in the Balkans and Europe. That allows a lot of people to voice a wide variety of opinions.

News images of refugees and the aftermath of NATO bombings affects how everyone feels about what is going on in Yugoslavia and Kosovo. Web sites have also taken an interest on both sides of the conflict.

It is important to remember that everything written on the Internet is not factual.Beograd.com, a site in Yugoslavia, warns of a ground attack by NATO forces.NATO's Web sitehas been bombarded electronically by Serbs.

Radio B92 broadcasts were shut down five days ago. The Belgrade station tried to remain neutral, but was taken over by the government. Now the sound of air raid sirens accompanies the site.

TheSerbia information sitecalls NATO "fascist" and "criminal" while a Web site in Kosovo shows refugees and a map of a police attack.

Newsgroups are a sounding board for individual comments. Many groups are critical of the United States and NATO. While one user bragged about the downing of the American Stealth fighter, others claimed to be witnesses of atrocities or bombings.

Milosevic and the Serbs also came under written attack in several newsgroups for their actions. While another site shows the Yugoslav leader as a heroic leader, and calls for the bombing to stop.

One site redefined NATO as the New American Terrorist Organization. The conflict over Kosovo is a real battle, and it is also a war of words on the Internet.

The fact is that many of the propaganda or personal sites distort the facts on both sides. Unbiased information about the Kosovo situation will most likely be found on credible news sites on both side of the conflict.