Swedish social democrat Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson claims that “fake news” is harming the people of Sweden and that the government should have a more active role and some are likening the move to an Orwellian Ministry of Truth.
The Finance Minister made the comments Wednesday after talking about the impact she believes the so-called “fake news” phenomena has had on the recent U.S. presidential election last November. According to Andersson the Swedish government should have a role in determining what counts as truth and her party intends to take a tough stance on the matter Aftonbladet reports.
“This is a huge problem. It risks damaging trust in society and thereby also the Swedish model. It’s about what kind of society we want. We should have a debate based on facts, so that in this way we can make the right decisions,” Andersson told the newspaper. Sweden must be a society where members can trust each other but said that Swedes must be “agreed on basic common facts.”
Andersson said the ruling Social Democrats were looking at creating an “action against the facts of resistance” which would see the government implement policies in schools to teach students how to check sources and fact check on their own. The Swedish school system has been declining overall in the OECD PISA school ranking system for over a decade, largely due to mass migration.
The second step, according to Andersson, is to “ensure free journalism in Sweden” by giving subsidies and allowing the press free space to critique the journalistic work of other writers. She says the government currently has no concrete plans for this.
The final step and perhaps the most authoritarian is for authorities to be more active about spreading their facts and she listed scientific papers as an example but did not specify the limits of the proposal. The plan has led Swedish conservative site Friatider to call the proposal “Orwellian” and likened it to the Ministry of Truth from the novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four.”
The Swedish plan may draw some inspiration from a proposal by the German Interior Ministry to combat fake news by setting up a new division within the ministry itself. The German government claimed the reason for the move was the possibility that “fake news” may influence the upcoming federal election later this year.
Sweden has been accused of covering up the extent of migrant crime over the course of the migrant crisis and some have pointed out that the Swedish government stopped keeping records of the nationality of suspects as far back as 2001.
After remarks made by U.S. President Donald Trump on the matter, the Swedish government said there was no problem with mass migration in Sweden. But only days after the president’s speech, riots broke out in the migrant-populated no-go Stockholm suburb of Rinkeby and a left-wing newspaper photographer was attacked.
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