Right-wing sites flooding Sweden with misleading info about upcoming election: report

Right-wing sites flooding Sweden with misleading info about upcoming election: report
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Right-wing websites are reportedly flooding the internet with news stories containing deliberately misleading information about Sweden's upcoming elections, particularly concerning refugees and immigration, researchers say. 

Reuters reports that Oxford University researchers found that one in three news articles published online about the upcoming Swedish elections came from right-wing sites labeled "junk news" by the study, based on a range of "detailed criteria."


Researchers told Reuters that they studied 275,000 tweets related to Sweden's election over a 10-day period in August. According to the study, researchers said, "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."

"Junk news" refers to deliberately published items the study deemed “misleading, deceptive or incorrect information purporting to be real news."

A representative for the right-wing Sweden Democrats rebuked the study for attempting to label sites "junk news" around an election.

“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," the spokesman said.

Some experts expect the far-right party to make significant gains in the upcoming elections due to concerns about an influx of refugees to Europe.

Swedish security officials told Reuters that there is no evidence of a "coordinated online attempt" by foreign influences to affect the tight Sept. 9 elections. The Swedish government, however, has issued repeated warnings about possible influence.

Sharing of false or misleading stories on social media became a hot-button issue during the 2016 U.S. presidential race.

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Facebook, Twitter and other tech companies have come under fire for how the platforms responded to Russian and other efforts to share false information and interfere in elections using their technology, prompting the companies' top executives to sit for hours of testimony before Congress.

The companies have resisted calls from some journalists to do more to remove news stories containing deliberately false information from their platforms, citing freedom of speech.