Is Russia or China Using TikTok Videos to Scare Sweden’s Children About a Looming War? Is US Next?

Official TikTok logo and Putin

HYBRID WARFARE – Russia may be using the now ubiquitous Chinese video platform TikTok as part of a fear campaign against Sweden’s children. Or it could be China. Or both.

So, what is going on?

On Saturday, the Swedish daily Aftonbladet reported that a Swedish organization that operates a hotline for children and teenagers – BRIS – had begun receiving phone calls from children and teenagers anxious about an impending Russian invasion.

Where did these kids get the idea? TikTok.

Defense One notes:

“War is coming,” say some of the videos that the social-media platform is feeding to young Swedes. Other videos tell their Swedish users that Russian forces will bomb their country or even invade. No wonder the children are becoming anxious. The Chinese-owned, algorithm-driven platform is, in fact, the perfect tool for a country wishing to weaken another country’s morale.

In Sweden only three percent of tweens and teens read the newspaper daily but 30 percent use Tik Tok making it a great disinformation weapon targeting Sweden’s youth.

According to Defense One, BRIS social worker Marie Angsell told Aftonbladet  “that TikTok’s efficient algorithm, which has perfected individualized feeds, means that children and teenagers who view such videos once are consequently fed more of the same and end up overwhelmed by fear of a looming conflict.”

Why Sweden? Why Russia?

Defense One explains that: “Russia has a clear interest in sowing fear and confusion in a country that has in recent years begun to rebuild its defenses. Just last week Sweden moved additional soldiers to its Baltic Sea island of Gotland.”

But China also has reason to weaken Sweden’s resolve as the Nordic country has been increasingly taking a harder line against China. In October Sweden became the latest – and among the most forceful – to ban Huawei from its 5G network.

What Is Sweden doing about it?

Defense One adds:

Fortunately, Sweden has a new psychological defense agency tasked with doing precisely that. The Swedish Psychological Defense Agency was launched on New Year’s Day to strengthen the public’s resilience to disinformation. Importantly, it will also conduct the complicated work of identifying and exposing the perpetrators of disinformation. With the TikTok disinformation campaign in full swing, the Psychological Defense Agency will need to swiftly issue advice – on TikTok perhaps – to children, teenagers, parents, and teachers.

Is this disinformation effort just a test bed for further similar ones against other Western allies and the United States? Most likely.

The U.S. and its allies should quickly prepare for similar hybrid warfare attacks against its youth as part of a greater campaign to undermine our resolve against Russia and China. ADN

Paul Crespo is the Managing Editor of American Defense News. A defense and national security expert, he served as a Marine Corps officer and as a military attaché with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) at US embassies worldwide. Paul holds degrees from Georgetown, London, and Cambridge Universities. He is also CEO of SPECTRE Global Risk, a security advisory firm, and President of the Center for American Defense Studies, a national security think tank. - - PAULCRESPO.COM

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Stephen Russell
Stephen Russell
3 months ago


3 months ago

Soviet Bloc technique: ‘desinformatsiya.’

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