Social networks

According to a January 2018 report published by We are Social, Facebook continues to be by far the most popular social network in Serbia. Around 3.6 million people, roughly half of the total Serbian population is on this network. More males than females use it: 53 percent of men and 47 percent of women. The growth compared to January 2017 is six percent. Most users (one million) are in the 25-34 years-old category, followed by age group 18-24 (830,000) and 35-44 (790,000).

According to data from 2014, most Facebook users were in the 18-24 years-old category (31 percent), followed by the age group 25-34 (28 percent).

Instagram engages 1.7 million people, more women (51 percent) than men (49 percent).

Professional network LinkedIn is according to available data used by 380,000 people and Twitter by 280,000 people.

Not only media outlets, but also individual users of social networks sometimes come under pressure from the authorities.

As freedom in Serbia's mainstream media shrinks, independent or critical voices move to social networks, in particular Twitter, which often provokes leading politicians. Serbia’s President, Aleksandar Vucic, went as far as to bring printed tweets of his critics on to live TV, calling some of the posters “haters” and “liars” who only want to bring him down.

In 2014, following floods that heavily hit the country, a number of social media users were called in by the police for questioning. They were threatened with charges for “spreading panic” by posting rumours about the scope of the disaster and consequences of the public officials’ incompetence. As research by SHARE Foundation on the topic concludes, arresting individuals because of their blogs, comments, or other forms of writing online has a chilling effect not just on the journalists and online media organisations, but on the general population of online users in Serbia. SHARE has registered 422 cases of violations of digital rights and freedoms in its public register since 2012.

An official Twitter report shows that since 2015, the Serbian government has sent the company 38 account information requests, 12 of which were sent between January and June of 2017. Neither Twitter nor the Serbian government would reveal exactly what information was sought, or what information the social networking platform provided to the government.