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Sweden creates agency to combat fake news ahead of September election

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By AP
People vote at a polling station during the European Parliament elections in Lund, Sweden.
People vote at a polling station during the European Parliament elections in Lund, Sweden.   -   Copyright  Johan Nilsson/TT News Agency via AP, File

Sweden has created a new agency to combat disinformation ahead of its upcoming parliamentary elections in September.

The Swedish Psychological Defense Agency, which began operating on 1 January, was set up to "identify, analyse and respond to the impact of undue information influence and other misleading information".

The agency said it will also “defend our open and democratic society and free opinions by identifying, analyzing and responding to inappropriate influences and other misleading information directed at Sweden or Swedish interests.”

In 2018, Sweden’s domestic intelligence agency said foreign powers didn’t carry out any comprehensive campaign to influence the Swedish parliamentary election.

However, it added that a “foreign power exerts influence on Sweden in the long term”.

The new government authority did not name any countries it suspects of participating in disinformation campaigns.

The agency also stated that it “will provide support to the population, agencies, municipalities, the media, voluntary defense organisations and civil society in general, as well as working for increased coordination between these actors.”

France, which has a presidential election in April, also set up an agency last year to combat foreign disinformation and fake news.