20,000 children allegedly kidnapped: a massive fake news campaign against Sweden

Truth Finder

Status: 08/02/2022 10:44 AM

False news was followed by threats: Islamist activists widely disseminated false allegations about Sweden. The authorities there allegedly kidnapped thousands of refugee children.

Written by Patrick Jensing, ARD Facts Search Editors

Islamist activists deliberately spread false information about Swedish authorities and communities who are said to be abducting thousands of children. The corresponding videos and posts were widely shared on various platforms for several days – including YouTube, Twitter and Reddit.

The individual videos have already been accessed over a million times and lead to concrete threats against the Scandinavian country. Some publications claim that Sweden has “kidnapped” nearly 20,000 children.

The first corresponding reports were published on an Islamist website at the end of December. There are also reports of alleged child pornography rings that cooperated with Swedish authorities. For example, the site refers to an old book in which wild accusations were made against the Swedish authorities. The stories are very reminiscent of the legend of “Pizzagate” in the United States.

This video, posted by an Egyptian user on YouTube alone, has achieved more than a million views in just a few days.

Photo: youtube

Fantastic coverage

During January and early February, allegations about Sweden were echoed by Arab YouTubers and social media users, including the Egyptian YouTuber who has just three million subscribers. The Facebook groups claim that Muslim children are taken from their families, removed and forced to eat pork.

It is a war against Islam, Sweden must be boycotted and it is a “fascist country”. The corresponding hashtags on Twitter can be found in Arabic, English and Swedish, but now also in German.

A video of at least five years is being published as evidence of the mass “kidnapping”.

Photo: tweitter

Real essence, invented context

As is usually the case with misinformation, there is also a kernel of truth here: Swedish social services can take children from families under the Youth Welfare Act (LVU) – for example because of domestic violence. Such cases have been taken out of context and transformed into a new narrative – that the actions are intended to target Muslim families. In addition, the number of cases is greatly exaggerated and details are invented, while real backgrounds are omitted.

Mikael Tofsson of the Swedish Radio’s Ministry of Psychological Defense warned of a targeted campaign aimed at harming the country. Communities and social services have been targeted by accounts linked to extremist Islamic organizations alleging that Swedish authorities have kidnapped Muslim children from their parents.

rumors in sweden

Swedish researcher Magnus Ranstorp told the Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang that rumors about child social work have been circulating for years, but have now developed with tangible consequences. Ranstorp assumes that the disinformation originated in Sweden – and reached Arab users via social media. The Swedish media also reported that Sweden fueled the campaign – from the Islamic community.

The Ministry of Psychological Defense said it would respond to the spread of false information in the Arab media. How this reaction looks concretely is still not clear. “There was a strong and coordinated response,” said Mikael Tofison. He pointed to threats in this context that are becoming increasingly serious – including terrorist attacks.

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