Sweden has created a new state authority dedicated to combating misinformation, especially from foreign governments such as Russia, China and Iran.
The Swedish Psychological Defense Authority, based in Karlsbad and headquartered in Solna, will be headed by Director General Henrik Landerholm, former ambassador, and will have 45 employees. It will collaborate with academics, the military and the media, and will offer support to regions, companies and organizations within the country.
The purpose is to identify, analyze and respond to “inappropriate influences” and other misleading information.
“It could be misinformation aimed at weakening the country’s resilience and the population’s willingness to defend itself or at unduly influencing people’s perceptions, behaviors and decision – making,” the authority said. explaining on its website.
“Psychological defense must also strengthen the population’s ability to detect and resist influence campaigns and misinformation. Psychological defense contributes to creating resistance and will to defend among our population and in society at large.”
Swedish officials have previously mentioned Russia, China and Iran as sources of disinformation campaigns, where Landerholm points to Russian attempts to disrupt the US presidential election.
And it was the concern about interference in Sweden’s own election in 2018 that led to the new agency being created. Around ten percent of Swedes are said to read the Russian news site Sputnik, usually described as a propaganda service, which is often critical of Sweden’s liberal attitudes and which, according to Landerholm, aims to destabilize or undermine trust in state authorities.
Meanwhile a recent Report from Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has found that misinformation about Covid is still widespread in Sweden.
But most of it is spread via social media, especially TikTok, Instagram and Facebook, and is in fact run largely nationally rather than internationally.
“Disinformation about the virus in Sweden has reflected the global ‘infodemy’, including stories about the deliberate spread of a ‘plandemic’ by foreign actors (China, USA, global elites or corporate interests such as big pharma),” the authors say.
“The 5G conspiracy theory had some impact in Sweden and a number of incidents with sabotaged antennas have been reported. There have also been a number of disinformation reports related to the spread of the disease, its” actual “mortality and strategies to avoid getting infected.”