Swedish Agency Warns of Dangerous ‘Hidden Agenda’ Memes

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Sweden’s Agency for Psychological Defence has launched a campaign against disinformation online, warning Swedes about internet memes that could be used to spread misleading information.

The warning comes as part of a larger campaign entitled “Don’t Be Deceived,” which was launched by the Swedish Agency for Psychological Defense, a new agency established by the Swedish government to identify and analyse misleading information in January of this year.

“Humor, parody, and satire are usually harmless forms of entertainment that can sometimes be used to spread misleading information and ridicule or criticize people or opinions — for example, in the form of memes,” the agency writes on the campaign’s website.

“Memes can be used to shift the focus away from a particular issue, take over and change the direction of a debate, or to support a hidden agenda,” the agency adds.

The agency also warns of memes being spread by automated social media accounts known as bots and gives advice to Swedes on how to recognize such accounts, such as looking at profile pictures, follow counts and how active the accounts are.

Mikael Östlund, Head of Communications at the Swedish Agency for Psychological Defense, spoke to the Swedish magazine Resume about the project saying, “The foreign nations and forces behind the information influence in order to harm Sweden have great resources at their disposal. Therefore, it is becoming increasingly important to increase one’s own resilience, not least in an election year like this.”

“Disinformation and foreign influence can be dressed in the most innocent packaging. In our first campaign, we have therefore chosen to use a more lighthearted tone and memes to meet influence campaigns in the same arena as they perform. Together we will build resilience and it starts in every single feed on social media,” Nemo Stjernström, the agency project manager for the campaign added.

Swedish interior minister Mikael Damberg had previously commented on the role of the agency in January soon after it was created, saying, “A very important duty for the agency in 2022 will be to work to strengthen society’s ability to identify and handle misinformation directed at Sweden in connection with the General Election.”

Sweden has made attempts to counter so-called misinformation online in previous years, giving several mainstream media outlets 13.5 million kronor (£1.2 million) to fight “fake news” in 2017, ahead of the 2018 elections.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)breitbart.com.

 

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