Transformational Leadership Program - Scholarships and Partnerships

Scholar Persuades Facebook to List Cities in Kosovo

Last week, TLP-SP Master’s scholar Lavdi Zymberi succeeded in petitioning Facebook to allow Kosovo users to list their hometowns in Kosovo, not Serbia, as was previously the case.

Zymberi launched a petition late last Saturday, November 14, on the popular digital platform change.org and collected 10,000 signatures with the first 48 hours.

Her letter, which read, “Our country has been recognized from 105+ countries worldwide and we demand Facebook to respect it”, was answered three days ago. Facebook users can now “check-in” to or even list their hometowns in Kosovo.

“Facebook has recognized Kosovo since 2013, it was about time to change,” she said, happy to witness the network making good on a promise they made the end of that year.

To date, the petition has just under 15,000 signatures, an impressive amount for only one week. Zymberi said the supporters are mostly from Kosovo, but they also represent signers from many other countries.

Zymberi’s idea was inspired by a conversation with a friend after watching support for France unfold over social media after the November 13th attacks in Paris. Facebook gave users the ability to add a French flag symbol to their profile images and, reasoned Zymberi, if the network could facilitate such a widespread campaign, they could also adjust Kosovo locations.

“I didn’t expect it to be so huge”, said Zymberi. “I though ok it will take some time for people to get to know about it. But I woke up one morning and it was all over Facebook.”

The petition’s success has also been covered by numerous regional outlets, including Topchannel in Albania, Radio Kosovoa, and several online new sources, including in Serbia.

Zymberi is studying for a master’s degree in public administration at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, Illinois, with a scholarship from the USAID and World Learning supported Transformational Leadership Program - Scholarships and Partnerships. She will graduate next May and return to Kosovo where she hopes to contribute to policymaking.

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