Google “gathers strength” for increased Swedish censorship ahead of parliamentary elections

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Published 13 January 2022 at 12.08

Domestic. Google Sweden is investing heavily in combating “conspiracy theories and misinformation” with the help of special “election teams” ahead of the parliamentary elections this autumn. This was announced by Sara Övreby, Google's head of social policy “in Sweden, at the National Conference of the People and Defense.
– As soon as we discover it, we take it down, she says.

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– Actors who spread conspiracy theories and misinformation in society have increased. We have seen it during the pandemic, and it is clear that the exposure is increasing for countries going to the polls, said Sara Övreby during the conference.

She announced that Google will make a special investment in the Swedish parliamentary election. <./p>

– In addition, we take with us the experiences we have gained from elections in other countries, such as Germany, the USA and the Netherlands. We gather strength by setting up special election teams that offer a direct contact to Google for authorities, politicians and journalists and more. The team consists of employees from Google Sweden's offices, but also experts from Google's international team who have extensive expertise on how to work for safe and democratic elections, said Sara Övreby.

Google will ensure that “problematic material is examined” and make analyzes to see if “actors are trying to abuse” the company's platforms.

The internet giant is already cooperating with MSB and now also the newly established Agency for Psychological Defense. However, this collaboration should be deepened, according to Sara Övreby.

– We remove what is illegal and what does not follow our guidelines. We highlight trusted information. We also work to reduce the dissemination of information located in the border country, which may not be illegal or in breach of our guidelines, but which is not appropriate. Getting rid of it once and for all is very difficult and perhaps not always desirable, because the context of a content also matters. So it's a bit of a sisyphos job, said Sara Övreby.

– But as soon as we discover it, we take it down, she continues.

Sara Övreby also said that most of it that is censored disappears even before anyone has time to see it.

– We are very happy that we have a combination of people and machines that work with this content and in the majority of cases problematic content is actually removed before anyone has also seen it.

Google will also offer training to political parties and other actors in “security issues to increase their knowledge of resilience to malicious actors”.

The rules for advertising will also be more clearly. Advertisers must be registered and advertising may only be targeted according to age, gender, and zip code criteria.