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The 12th Point Conference Wraps Up Successfully

June 26, 2024 | by: Sofija

On June 24th and 25th, the 12th edition of the Point Conference, the leading regional event in political accountability and new technologies, was held in Sarajevo.

Photo: Vanja Čerimagić

The first day of the conference was marked by numerous current topics, with the discussion on the growing trend of adopting so-called foreign agent laws standing out. This trend has raised many public questions about freedom of speech and the precarious situations in which these undemocratic practices place civil society organizations. Attendees learned more about this topic from speakers from Georgia, Belarus, Egypt, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The dynamic discussion on the widespread trend of monetizing disinformation in the online space also captured the attendees’ attention. American journalist Craig Silverman and Mirjana Jevtović, editor of the Digital Forensic Unit at Radio Free Europe in Belgrade, were among those who spoke to the audience about this topic. Jevtović presented findings from an investigation into a multimillion-dollar advertising fraud in North Macedonia.

Photo: Vanja Čerimagić

The first day of the conference also focused on EU laws addressing key aspects of the single European digital market (Digital Markets Act, Digital Services Act, Artificial Intelligence Act), discussed from the perspective of their potential application in Western Balkan countries. One of the panels on these EU regulations presented preliminary findings from research conducted by the Belgrade-based Share Foundation. This research included explanations of the acts themselves and their enforcement mechanisms, as well as a comparative overview of legal regulations related to digital services and markets in Western Balkan countries. Another panel on EU regulations for digital services focused on the specific possibilities for Western Balkan countries to implement the DSA (Digital Services Act) into their legal frameworks, given that they are not part of the territory where the European Commission enforces these rules.

On the first day of the conference, attendees also had the opportunity to hear discussions about the recently held elections in the EU and the upcoming elections in the USA, as well as a conversation about the current state of fact-checking worldwide and the challenges this community will face in the future. Representatives from several fact-checking platforms spoke about these challenges at Point, along with Angie Drobnic Holan, director of the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN).

Palestinian journalists Khaled Faqeeh and Riham Abu Aita discussed working in journalism under extremely violent conditions.

The second day of Point was marked by discussions and presentations on digital security, artificial intelligence, and innovative digital solutions for media organizations in the Western Balkans.

Photo: Vanja Čerimagić

The second day of the conference also focused on the fight against disinformation, where attendees could learn more from speakers about disinformation narratives that foster Euroscepticism in the Western Balkans, as well as online deceptions and frauds in the region. These discussions were accompanied by numerous workshops focused on the central themes of the conference.

Detailed information about the discussions and workshops of this year’s Point Conference can be found on the official conference website.

The Point Conference is organized by the association “Zašto ne” (“Why Not”) from Sarajevo, together with the regional networks SEECheck and ActionSEE. The strategic partners of the Point Conference are the National Endowment for Democracy, the Balkan Trust for Democracy, the Open Society Foundations Western Balkans, and the European Union. This year, the partners also included the German GIZ and the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN).