Terminology to know
Bandwagon effect: People who feel that they are part of a majority are more willing to share their opinion. They pile on, simply because that groupthink gives them a sense of security.
Bots: A bot (from “robot”) is a computer program that performs tasks automatically, such as spreading information on social media.
Misleading information: Information used to fool the recipient in various ways, thereby giving them an incorrect perception of reality.
Deepfake: Audio or video clips that have been manipulated with the help of algorithms. Russia, for example, has created fake videos where the President of Ukraine urges his soldiers to surrender.
Disinformation: False information that is spread deliberately to harm an individual, organisation, or country, for example by creating and sharing made-up news stories.
Echo chambers and filter bubbles: Natural groupings, online or offline, where people communicate with others who share the same views and opinions. As a result, they only receive certain information, thereby missing out on the bigger picture.
Flooding involves overloading a target group with information. One way of doing this is by spamming on social media or spreading disinformation in order to drown out reliable sources.
Foreign antagonist powers: Other countries, or groups in other countries (often referred to as external threat actors), whose intention may be to harm Sweden and its national interests.
Influence campaign: When foreign antagonist powers or other external threat actors attempt to influence, disrupt, or steer public discourse in Sweden in a harmful way.
Misleading information: Information used to fool the recipient in a various ways, thereby giving them an incorrect perception of reality.
Misinformation: False information that hasn’t necessarily been created to cause harm. It may involve a misunderstanding, like someone reading an article online, believing that it is factual – and sharing it to inform their friends, without knowing that what they’re sharing is actually false.
Strawman: Incorrectly alleging that someone has certain opinions or positions and then arguing against those, rather than facing their actual argument.
Personal attacks (ad hominem): Attacking, discrediting, and ridiculing the person behind an argument instead of criticising the actual argument. Ad hominem attacks are often used to silence others, to prevent them from joining the discussion, or scare them into not getting involved at all.
Polarisation combines different influencing techniques to reinforce extreme positions on the same issue. Trolls and bots are often used to hype up extreme views. Foreign antagonist powers do this to pit one group against another. By dividing society, they can then reap the benefits.
Provocation means exploiting sensitive issues in society to deliberately cause anger and disagreement. Russia has, for example, organised demonstrations in other countries in order to provoke people in that country to act in a certain way.
Propaganda: Messages spread in order to influence our attitudes and actions in favour of the sender. Propaganda can be weaponised and is often based on disinformation and misleading information when used in psychological warfare.
Spiral of silence: People who feel like they are part of a minority are less willing to share their opinion. This is dangerous for our democracy: when people are silenced, there is a risk that influence campaigns and other misleading information have a greater impact.
Vulnerabilities: Known and unknown phenomena in our society that foreign powers attempt to exploit for their own benefit, for example by spreading disinformation on issues of concern to many.
Whataboutism: Shifting the focus of an argument by highlighting another subject or phenomenon (“But what about this?!”) that has not attracted as much attention, but which is not relevant to the issue at hand.