DML Executive Summary: Sweden
In general, Sweden is making a concerted national effort to improve Digital Media Literacy in response to a surge of disinformation preceding its 2018 election. Most efforts are flowing through the Swedish government, either acting alone or in collaboration with private sector organizations. Detailed information is available on the spreadsheet. This response can also be found in this document.
- In the lead up to the 2018 Swedish election, there was a dramatic surge in the disinformation on social media, including the Twitterbots with Swedish political hashtags.
- "At the heart of Sweden's network of internet trolls is its thriving far-right media sector — also known as "partisan" or "junk" news. These sites have an agenda, trading in disinformation and conspiracy. According to Reuters' 2018 digital news report, the most popular "partisan" sites are Samhällsnytt, Nyheter Idag, and Fria Tider."
- "In a report released last month, the Swedish Defense Research Agency found that Twitter bots are ardent supporters of these "partisan" news sources, regularly sharing their stories on social media."
DML Government Actions
- "The Swedish government has, through the Swedish Innovation Authority, Vinnova, injected 13.5 million Swedish krona (1.3 million euros) into a new digital platform designed to prevent the spread of false news stories online. Funded in collaboration with Swedish Television and other Swedish broadcasters, the platform contains three functions to help citizens filter news: An 'automated news assessment service' for evaluating news, a 'personalized engine' for counteracting filter bubbles, and a 'fact assistant' for automating fact-checking processes and discarding fake and irrelevant news".
- The Swedish government has launched a national initiative to increase Media and Information Literacy (MIL), focusing on digital media to improve people's resilience to disinformation, propaganda, and hate speech online.
- The government has made adjustments in curricula and syllabuses that aim to strengthen media literacy and online safety in different ways, including critical thinking and media use.
- The majority of the players in the DML world in Sweden are public authorities, including the Swedish National Agency for Education and the Swedish Media Council, which set policies in their respective areas.
- In the private sector, academia takes the lead through the Research Institute of Sweden.
- Sweden has undertaken a concentrated national effort for media and information literacy for all citizens. These include working the Swedish National Commission for UNESCO, working closely with UNESCO to draw on best practices to build a national MIL strategy. An in-depth report of that work is available here.
- Sweden's focus is on strengthening democracy through knowledge, policy, practice, and reflection.
- A research study at Oxford University found that Sweden has the largest share of "junk news" across all European elections examined by the researchers. One interesting difference is the content of the misinformation; unlike the U.S., Germany, and France, the stories shared in Sweden are not likely to be about a specific party or candidate but general issues.
- Research also suggests that the way young people use social media in Sweden may cement gaps and inequality concerning participation in politics and that schools can help diminish that gap by stimulating students to engage more to increase equality in young people's media proficiency.
- The National Investment in Media and Information Expertise and the Democratic Discussion committee will present proposals on how to increase the resilience to disinformation, propaganda, and hate speech in 2020.