Borås Tidning, an esteemed regional daily, published in its weekend edition a tweet by Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven praising an election video from the Swedish Trade Union Confederation (LO) aimed against a rival party, the Conservatives. The only problem is that the tweet wasn't written by the prime minister himself, but came from a parody account, the news outlet Nyheter Idag reported.
Ironically, Borås Tidning is currently offering educational training in source criticism and information evaluation to local upper secondary schools. "We Borås Tidning journalists work to evaluate information every day and want to share our knowledge of source criticism," the newspaper wrote in a self-advertisement.
Glöm inte denna i samma tidning, samma dag, då blir det ännu roligare 🤔🤔 pic.twitter.com/09h2CKAWWO— Trött, så trött (@365Boras) April 9, 2018
In its gaffe, Borås Tidning published a tweet originating from one of the numerous parody accounts mocking the Swedish prime minister. PM_Sweden, the account the newspaper made a reference to, states its parody nature explicitly in the self-description and deliberately misspells the prime minister's name as Löfvén.
"Party minister and state leader. I want to be clear about that. Another unofficial account that may become fun if we dedicate more resources," the account's self-description said.
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Unlike the real prime minister's Twitter account with 40,000 followers, the parody account has fewer than 3,000 followers. For the sake of comparison, Sweden Democrats leader Jimmie Åkesson has 81,000 followers, while Center Party leader Annie Lööf has 108,000. The latter are Sweden's most followed politicians and both have verified accounts, a quality that the parodies obviously lack. The difference is therefore easy to spot, especially for self-proclaimed experts in source criticism.
The blunder was later immortalized in a tweet by the same parody account. "I'll save this," "Stefan Löfvén wrote, posting a screenshot of the fake quote.
Jag sparar denna här. pic.twitter.com/HYgCjAhdnj— Stefan Löfvén (@PM_Sweden) April 9, 2018
"People just learn to be critical of what they don't like. It applies to everyone. Those critically impartial are very few," user Adam Ahlström commented Borås Tidning's blunder on Nyheter Idag's Facebook page.
"I do read BT every day of old habit, even the opinion pieces… as long as I can cope (I quit when irritation rises) <…> So no thanks to their lectures in source criticism, every single one of their reporters is angled," user Claes Åkersta wrote, accusing the newspaper of running a crusade against the Sweden Democrats and giving the "best possible" advertising to local Left politicians.
Recently, many Swedish schools have added courses in "source criticism" to their curricula as part of a coordinated effort to protect against "fake news," canards and deliberate disinformation campaigns.
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Borås Tidning is a daily newspaper published in the city of Borås, Sweden. Founded in 1838, it is still going strong with a circulation of over 40,000 copies. Until 2005, when it switched to tabloid format, it was published in broadsheet format. It used to have a conservative leaning.