Free speech consists only of what I think is reasonable to say

This is via AP and found in Campus Review: A third of online election news in Sweden ‘junk’: English study. No idea how well those people at Oxford speak Swedish, but this is a very strange story. How would they really know if the information provided was actually “mis-leading” and even more difficult to know, whether these non-factually accurate and biased reports were “deliberate” attempts to mislead? The one certainty, however, is the wish to prevent specific news stories from being read.

One in three news articles shared online about the upcoming Swedish election come from websites publishing deliberately misleading information, most with a right-wing focus on immigration and Islam, Oxford University researchers say.

Their study, published on Thursday, points to widespread online disinformation in the final stages of a tightly contested campaign that could mark a lurch to the right in one of Europe’s most prominent liberal democracies.

The authors, from the Oxford Internet Institute, labelled certain websites junk news, based on a range of detailed criteria. Reuters found the three most popular sites they identified have employed former members of the Sweden Democrats party; one has a former MP listed among its staff.

It was not clear whether the sharing of junk news had affected voting intentions in Sweden, but the study helps show the impact platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have on elections, and how domestic or foreign groups can use them to exacerbate sensitive social and political issues.

Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, whose centre-left Social Democrats have dominated politics since 1914 but are now unlikely to secure a ruling majority, told Reuters the spread of false or distorted information online risked shaking “the foundations of democracy” if left unchecked.

The Institute, a department of Oxford University, analysed 275,000 tweets about the Swedish election from a 10-day period in August. It counted articles shared from websites it identified as junk news sources, defined as outlets that “deliberately publish misleading, deceptive or incorrect information purporting to be real news”.

“Roughly speaking, for every two professional content articles shared, one junk news article was shared. Junk news therefore constituted a significant part of the conversation around the Swedish general election,” it said.

A Twitter spokesman declined to comment on the results of the study.

Facebook, where interactions between users are harder to track, said it was working with Swedish officials to help voters spot disinformation. It has also partnered with Viralgranskaren – an arm of Sweden’s Metro newspaper – to identify, demote and counterbalance junk news on its site.

Joakim Wallerstein, head of communications for the Sweden Democrats, said he had no knowledge of or interest in the party sympathies of media outlets. Asked to comment on his party’s relationship with the sites identified by the study, he said he had been interviewed by one of them once.

“I think it is strange that a foreign institute is trying to label various news outlets in Sweden as junk news and release such a report in connection to an election,” he said.

Swedish security officials say there is currently no evidence of a coordinated online attempt by foreign powers to sway the September 9 vote, despite repeated government warnings about the threat.

What could “foreign powers” do that they were not doing themselves. The deep state exists everywhere.

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