News from Russia: Powerful Russian Weapon: Spread of false stories - NYT

16:23 Aug. 28, 2016

Powerful Russian Weapon: Spread of false stories - NYT

Russian paramilitaries stand guard outside of a Ukrainian military base in the town of Perevevalne near the Crimean city of Simferopol on March 11, 2014 in Perevevalne, Ukraine (Getty Images)

Soviet Union devoted considerable resources to that during the ideological battles of the Cold War

With a vigorous national debate underway on whether Sweden should enter a military partnership with NATO, officials in Stockholm suddenly encountered an unsettling problem: a flood of distorted and outright false information on social media, confusing public perceptions of the issue.

Read also Russia threatens Sweden over NATO membership

The claims were alarming: If Sweden, a non-NATO member, signed the deal, the alliance would stockpile secret nuclear weapons on Swedish soil; NATO could attack Russia from Sweden without government approval; NATO soldiers, immune from prosecution, could rape Swedish women without fear of criminal charges.

They were all false, but the disinformation had begun spilling into the traditional news media, and as the defense minister, Peter Hultqvist, traveled the country to promote the pact in speeches and town hall meetings, he was repeatedly grilled about the bogus stories.

"People were not used to it, and they got scared, asking what can be believed, what should be believed?" said Marinette Nyh Radebo, Mr. Hultqvist's spokeswoman.

As often happens in such cases, Swedish officials were never able to pin down the source of the false reports. Full story 


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