Sweden’s “Psychological Defense Agency” is Using Cold War Strategies to Combat “Disinformation”
Sweden is blaming Russia for the backlash it faces in the Islamic world because of incidents, such as the burning of copies of Quran, that have occurred in that country.
Apparently, Muslims around the world, and in Sweden, would not be outraged by this if there weren’t for Russia’s alleged campaign on social media to spread this information. That is defined as “amplifying global reaction.”
At least, that is being cited as the reason – or an excuse that few will dare criticize – for yet another government devising and putting in motion plans to “combat misinformation.”
Sweden seems very eager to join that club, even if it doesn’t look like it’s brimming with innovative ideas: namely, the Scandinavian country is going all the way back to the Cold War playbook.
With the stage set like this, enter the Ministry of Defense’s Psychological Defense Agency, set up last year, but according to reports, modeled after Sweden’s Cold War-era “solutions” in case of a hot war.
Just like elsewhere around the world when (mis)information is “fought” by introducing new agencies and increasing government intervention in the realm of free speech, that often ends up in censorship – and often looks like it was actually designed to promote censorship – the justification is that such fundamental things like national security and democracy are under fire from “misinformation.”
The Psychological Defense Agency, which currently numbers 55 employees, is explained as a necessity for a country which believes it is currently facing the most serious security “situation” since WW2. At least that’s according to Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson.
Whether or not Kristersson exaggerates the situation, thus creating a “misinformation campaign” of his own aside, the Defense Ministry outfit’s existence has produced some protestations.
Speaking of threats to democracy – Hanna Linderstal of Earhart Business Protection Agency noted that, “The government can’t control the truth if it’s going to be a democracy.”
Meanwhile Magnus Hjort, who heads the Psychological Defense Agency, and others under his “command” have not publicly presented what evidence they have of Russia being behind harmful to Sweden information “amplification.”
But he did reveal the agency is “regularly in touch” with social media companies – denying, however, that they have demanded that accounts or content be taken down.