The Swedish government announced it will be granting four mainstream media outlets 13.5 million krona (£1.2 million) to combat so-called “fake news” ahead of next year’s national election.
The project will be paid for through the Swedish state fund for research and development Vinnova, which describes the project as a digitally based fact-checking platform, in a press release.
The platform is a collaboration between public broadcaster SVT, Sveriges Radio, the Bonnier publishing corporation, and Schibsted who own the newspapers Aftonbladet and Svenska Dagbladet.
Vinnova describes the anti-fake news platform as a “digital platform to highlight factual reviews made by various editors, such as statements in the political debate and messages that get spread through social media”.
The gatekeepers in charge of what is and what is not fake news will be the editors of the mainstream publications themselves. Vinnova also believes that the project could be “decisive” in next year’s Swedish national election.
Along with giving the mainstream editors great power in determining the validity of news, the project will have automated functions which they say will, “raise quality and reduce the risk of fake and irrelevant facts reaching the audience”.
The proposed platform is not the first digital fact-checking service to be used in Europe or the U.S. Earlier this year, Germany developed a similar platform called “Correctiv” which received funding from left-wing billionaire George Soros and was staffed by establishment journalists.
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) February 5, 2017
The argument for the creation of Correctiv was largely the same as that for the Swedish project: to counteract “fake news” ahead of the German election. “Fake news” has been credited for the rise of populist parties across Europe; but despite launching Correctiv months before the election, the populist anti-mass migration Alternative for Germany (AfD) surged to come third in September’s election.
Shortly after the election of U.S. President Donald Trump, Democrats and the political establishment claimed “fake news” had a hand in his victory. As a result, social media giant Facebook enlisted the help of partisan groups Politifact and Snopes to flag certain news stories as, “disputed by 3rd Party Fact-Checkers”.