Digital Media Literacy: Sweden

Part
01
of eight
Part
01

Misinformation / DML Prevalence: Sweden

Even though Sweden is a fairly small European country, it has its share of misinformation and disinformation. Sweden has been fairly active in combating the spread of high profile misinformation and disinformation. The research findings have been included in the attached spreadsheet.

Prevalence/Awareness of Misinformation/Disinformation

  • The Swedish government in association with news organization have funded a digital platform to provide the public with tools for identifying false news.
  • Laws are in place to help uphold standards in the news industry. In addition, those in the news industry are voluntarily adhering to a set of ethical codes. For example, the Press Ombudsman and the Press Council are responsible for investigating any potential violation of the voluntary set of ethical codes. Members who are found to be guilty of not adhering to the set of ethical codes may be monetarily penalized.
  • New teaching materials are being provided to educate students on methods for critically evaluating online news and images and identifying fake news.

Demand for Digital Media Literacy

  • Internet trolls, online sites that are providing misinformation and/or disinformation through the usage of sensational stories, are popular with about ten percent of the Swedish population.
  • Swedish media are combating fake news by implementing ethical procedures and/or spending money to make the public become aware of the possibility of misinformation.

Who Needs Digital Media Literacy

Mis/Disinformation Event

  • Fake news about Sweden officially adopting cryptocurrencies have been circulating. However, as of 2018, no country has officially adopted cryptocurrencies as their official currencies.


Part
02
of eight
Part
02

DML Government Actions: Sweden

The Swedish government has taken a variety of measures to tackle misinformation online over the last five years. These include the creation of various government entities tasked with keeping citizens aware of dubious sources, giving schoolkids tools to help them critically assess internet media sources, and working with Facebook to detect misleading information posted on the internet.

All 15 measures have been included in the attached document, in tab 2 - "DML Government Actions.

A number of sources being published in Swedish, the content has been translated using Google Translate.

Some of these measures are outlined below:

1. National Initiative to Increase Media and Information Literacy

  • This relates to the launch of a national initiative aimed at increasing Media and Information literacy in Sweden, focusing on digital media to increase people's resilience to disinformation, propaganda, and hate speech online.
  • This initiative was launched in August 2018.

2. State Media Council

  • The State Media Council has been tasked by the government to promote media and information literacy and to build partnerships with other state entities to work on these issues.

3. Democratic Strategic Plan

4. Media literacy and online safety through formal education

  • In March 2017, the government decided to reform the school program to strengthen the abilities of students to critically assess online media sources.

5. Method Anti-Propaganda Material

  • In 2015, the State Media Council was ordered to produce materials to help students distinguish between facts and fiction in online media.





Part
03
of eight
Part
03

DML Players, Part 1: Sweden

NORDICOM, Swedish National Agency for Education, Swedish Media Council, UR Swedish Educational Broadcasting Company and Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom (CMPF) are some key players in the digital media literacy space in Sweden. Full details of the 5 organizations may be found in the attached spreadsheet.

Nordicom

  • "Nordicom is a non-profit organization that deals with collecting and communicating media and communication research and facts. (Their) employees are located in all the Nordic countries and our head office is located in Gothenburg, Sweden.
  • The main activities of the company as explained verbatim from their website: "The purpose of our work is to develop knowledge about the role of media in society. We do this, for example, by collecting material and documents for different types of organizations to make decisions on media matters, as well as communicating facts and knowledge to researchers and students"

The Swedish National Agency for Education

  • "The National Agency for Education is the central administrative authority for the public school system, publicly organized preschooling, school-age childcare and for adult education."
  • "The Swedish National Agency for Education is tasked with ensuring that all children and students have access to the same high-quality standard of education and activities in secure environments. (Its) mission is to create the best conditions for the children’s development and learning and to help improve the students’ learning outcomes."

The Swedish Media Council

UR Swedish Educational Broadcasting Company

  • "Swedish Educational Broadcasting Company is a public-service corporation dedicated to serving the needs of the Swedish general public by providing educational programming on radio and television."
  • "UR makes programs for those who want to understand the world. We want to entertain, arouse curiosity, entertain, give you aha experiences and put things into context."

Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom (CMPF)

  • "The Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom (CMPF) is a research and training centre that aims to develop innovative and relevant lines of research on media freedom and pluralism in Europe and beyond, and to provide knowledge support to the international, European and national policy and rule making processes."
  • Their main activities verbatim from website are explained: "The Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom (CMPF), established in 2011, aims to develop innovative and relevant lines of research on media freedom and pluralism in Europe and beyond, and to provide knowledge support to the international, European and national policy and rule making processes. "

Research Strategy

In order to identify the key players in the digital media literacy space, first, the research team compiled a list of companies obtained from EAVI's directory and those that are available in the public domain. The EAVI directory contains media, information and digital literacy organizations in Europe, globally, and some European countries, including Sweden. Then, each organization was reviewed to ensure they operate in Sweden. Next, the available initiatives and programs of each of these organizations that operate in Sweden were examined and filtered by those that appear to have a good number of programs and/or initiatives. Note that some of the websites are in Swedish and online translators were used to obtain English translations. Also, since the criteria require some verbatim information directly from the organizations' websites, several quotes are copied directly.
Part
04
of eight
Part
04

DML Players, Part 2: Sweden

The key players in the digital media literacy space in Sweden are the Swedish National Agency for Education (Skolverket), the Swedish Media Council (Medierådet), the Swedish Agency for Accessible Media (MTM), the National Library of Sweden, and the Swedish Digitalisation Commission. The key players' detailed information has been provided in the “3 — DML Players” tab of the attached spreadsheet.

Summary

  • The Swedish Agency for Accessible Media (MTM) is under the administration of the Ministry of Culture, whose mandate is to ensure that persons with reading impairments can access literature and daily newspapers in an accessible format. This organization provides the resources needed for MIL.
  • The National Library of Sweden has responsible to build on the long-term commitment to maintain and develop library services in Sweden and set out the role of libraries in society, the needs of users, new media, technological development, national infrastructure and more.
  • In 2012, the Swedish government created the Swedish Digitalisation Commission whose mandate to analyze and monitor progress in terms of meeting the ICT-policy goal. The Commission is responsible for managing and promoting the implementation of the government’s digitalization strategy.
Part
05
of eight
Part
05

DML Initiatives, Part 1: Sweden

The major DML initiatives in Sweden involve the protection democratic dialogue, increase in resilience towards disinformation, and embedding of MIL at the policy level. Information for Internetkunskap, the Swedish National Commission Cross-Disciplinary Conference, and No Hate Speech are described below and included in the attached spreadsheet.

Internetkunskap (Internet Knowledge)

  • This initiative was launched in 2018 to reach and educate 400,000 Swedes before the election in September 2018 and to contribute to the knowledge and awareness of Internet users.
  • Only a fifth of Swedes over age 35 had received education or information about source criticism and over half of the Swedes could not determine if the information they encountered online was true or false.
  • The website's content is also produced and optimized to be used directly on the social media platforms that the target audience uses regularly.

Success

  • The initiative reached 2,000,000 people by election day.
  • The initiative "met the public where they are most susceptible, instead of trying to attract them to the site."

The Swedish National Commission Cross-Disciplinary Conference

  • A spring 2018 national conference was initiated by The Swedish National Commission for UNESCO which included the UNESCO Chair on Freedom of Expression at the University of Gothenburg, Ulla Carlsson, and four government ministers — Minister of Culture and Democracy, Minister of Justice, Minister of Digital Development, and Minister for Upper Secondary School and Adult Education and Training.
  • The conference publication is said to have made a "great impression on the political level" and provided a revised survey outlining the state of MIL in the nation, and made recommendations based on international policies that were then introduced in the government's democracy strategy later that summer. This resulted in declaring two points of importance for the nation's work on MIL.
  • An analysis of the conference can be accessed here.

Success

No Hate Speech

  • No Hate Speech Movement is carried by the State Media Council on behalf of the government to raise awareness on racism and similar forms of hostility on the Internet among children and young people and to promote and protect human rights both at home and abroad.
  • The Government had adopted a national plan against racism, similar forms of hostility and hate crime in 2016.
  • The committee was dedicated to identifying and addressing the experiences of immigrants.
  • This movement revealed how MIL initiatives were failing immigrants and informed other initiatives regarding immigrants finding empowerment through digital media literacy.
  • The action plan for the campaign can be accessed here. The campaign website can be accessed here.

Part
06
of eight
Part
06

DML Initiatives, Part 2: Sweden

Mobile Stories is an initiative that aims to teach young people media and information literacy and the ability to critically evaluate media and make informed decisions as citizens and consumers. The Protection of Democratic Dialogue is a newly formed function with an aim to research and instill MIL best practices at the policy level and reach the entire population. Information regarding these two initiatives is provided below and in the attached spreadsheet.

1. Mobile Stories

  • Mobile Stories launched in the summer of 2017. The innovative publishing tool helps secondary and high school students to create credible content and teaches media and information literacy and how to critique sources.
  • The founders are journalists and a web developer that have developed the platform and it is used for various projects for people under 25. They also participate in public speaking, think tanks, and workshops for students, teachers or school management.

Goals

  • ""Therefore, Mobile Stories offers a publishing tool that educates young people in media and information literacy while producing their school work in the form of different types of articles."
  • "This brings completely new social challenges in terms of democracy and source criticism. In order to make well-founded decisions as citizens and consumers, we need to be able to distinguish knowledge from rumors, but also be able to understand how to use text, image and video to highlight a certain perspective."

Direct Quote

  • "Therefore, Mobile Stories offers a publishing tool that educates young people in media and information literacy while producing their school work in the form of different types of articles."
  • "This brings completely new social challenges in terms of democracy and source criticism. In order to make well-founded decisions as citizens and consumers, we need to be able to distinguish knowledge from rumors, but also be able to understand how to use text, image and video to highlight a certain perspective."

Success

  • Mobile Stories was a 2019 appointee to Change Leaders of the organization Reach for Change, was highlighted as a Best Practice in the 2018 MIK in the Digital Age survey and in a book published by the Social Innovation Summit.
  • The platform has produced 2.346 co-created articles and has 1,300 users.

Insights

  • "Students are able to create and share school work on a media platform that reaches audiences outside of the school walls and how to critically engage in public discourse."
  • "The production tool guides students through the creation process for different kinds of media and the publication process while providing assistance with text, copyright, source criticism, laws and fair behavior. Student articles are then pushed through editorial filters like peer reviews before publication.""

Potential Pitfalls

  • The founders lack enough funding to expand the platform to all the organizations and entities that have requested to have versions of it developed, therefore the reach of the platform is limited.

2. Protection of Democratic Dialogue

  • The Ministry of Culture issued a committee directive for national investment in MIL and hired a special investigator to supplement, reinforce, and disseminate knowledge about MIL efforts among various stakeholders, compile and disseminate knowledge of the importance of digital education with a focus on disinformation, propaganda and hate speech. The investigator will also gather examples of the best practices that prevent and counteract presentations of disinformation, and analyze and propose how the efforts of the initiative can be continued within the government.
  • Carl Heath was appointed to be the special counsel for the Protection of Democratic Dialogue in August 2018.

Goals

  • He states the Protection of Democratic Dialogue is newly formed function with a purpose to lead the national initiative on MIL for the population at large and targeting special interest groups such as older adults.

Direct Quotes

Insights

  • This initiative aims to include the entire population including special interest groups such as older adults that are normally neglected by MIL efforts.
  • This initiative works to permanently embed MIL in government agencies and functions.

Success

Potential Pitfalls

  • There are no potential pitfalls to the initiative as it aims to include the entire population including special interest groups that other initiatives have neglected. The final results will not be known until after October 1, 2020.



Part
07
of eight
Part
07

The Future of DML, Part 1: Sweden

Digital media literacy is a constant topic of debate among Swedes, as the country has suffered from the spread of misinformation.

The Future of Digital Media Literacy in Sweden

  • Martina Wagner, from the Swedish Media Council, theorizes that media literacy, especially in the digital age, is an essential aspect of democracy.
  • Oxford University conducted a study that showed that one in three news articles shared by Swedish Twitter was “junk news.”
  • Mats Ekström and Adam Shehata from the University of Gothenburg examined how young people interact with politics online. They concluded that schools could be a valuable mechanism to decrease the gaps in young people’s media proficiency.
  • Thomas Nygren and Mona Guath from Uppsala University wondered if Sweden needs better education tools and research to help students with online civic engagement.
  • Morgan Meaker wrote an article for the Wired UK showcasing the effects of fake news and bots in Sweden.

Research Strategy

To discover some pieces about digital media literacy in Sweden, the research team located articles from academic, news, and government-related sources. One necessary clarification is regarding the “Understanding Media and Information Literacy in the Digital Age” source, as this document is a compilation of different articles related to media literacy from various authors. Since we used two different pieces contained in that document, we included the page of the article in our insights.
Part
08
of eight
Part
08

The Future of DML, Part 2: Sweden

From scholars to news sites and CEOS, Swedes are debating digital media literacy, especially after the 2018 election. Five articles around the theme can be found in the attached spreadsheet.

The Future of Digital Media Literacy

  • Lina Nordquist argues that journalists and politics should persevere in the face of threats and harassment.
  • An article by the Göteborgs-Posten analyzes the trials and opportunities created by the new technology and the conversation on social media.
  • Michael Forsman explores critical thinking and the new media ecology in Sweden.
  • Gratisiskolan examines how misinformation can lead to public health issues.
  • The head of Sweden’s security service revealed his concerns surrounding fake news and disinformation, and the rise of right-wing extremism
Sources
Sources

From Part 02
From Part 03
Quotes
  • "NORDICOM is a knowledge centre in the field of media and communication research, a cooperation between the five countries of the Nordic region – Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden."
Quotes
  • "Nordicom is a non-profit organisation that deals with collecting and communicating media and communication research and facts. Our employees are located in all the Nordic countries and our head office is located in Gothenburg, Sweden."
Quotes
  • "The National Agency for Education is the central administrative authority for the public school system, publicly organised preschooling, school-age childcare and for adult education."
Quotes
  • "The task of the Swedish Media Council is to protect children and young people from harmful effects of the media and help them to become more aware media users. The Council is also responsible for setting age limits for films intended for public screenings to children under the age of fifteen."
Quotes
  • "The Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom (CMPF) is a research and training centre that aims to develop innovative and relevant lines of research on media freedom and pluralism in Europe and beyond, and to provide knowledge support to the international, European and national policy and rulemaking processes."