June 14. 2024. 12:47

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Sweden’s Social Democrats want EU ID verification to fight social media trolls

Swedish Social Democrats are calling on the European Union to introduce an identity verification requirement across social media to prevent the creation of fake accounts, former prime minister Magdalena Andersson and socialist MEP Heléne Fritzon said on Thursday, following the recent revelations of alleged far-right troll farms.

Last week, Swedish TV channel TV4 revealed that the communications department of the far-right Sweden Democrats (SD/ECR) party had used numerous anonymous accounts to promote and share social media content favourable to its views, sometimes at the expense of its coalition allies.

SD, the country’s second-largest party, is not formally part of the ruling coalition of the centre-right Moderates (EPP), Christian Democrats (EPP), and Liberals (Renew Europe) but supports it in return for a stricter immigration policy. Without its support, the coalition led by Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson (Moderates) would fall.

“The largest party in the government coalition has been exposed as running a troll factory,” Andersson, the leader of the opposition Social Democrats, said at a press conference on Thursday.

“This is a way of working reminiscent of Russia and has no place in Sweden,” she added.

That is why, according to Andersson and leading socialist MEP Heléne Fritzon, the Swedish Social Democrats will work to introduce mandatory identification on social media across the EU—their proposal is not to ban anonymity on social media but to make it mandatory to identify oneself when creating an account so that it can always be linked to a person.

“We want to use the EU to remove fake accounts on social media. All accounts must have requirements for identification and can be linked to a person,” Andersson said.

According to Fritzon, Russia uses such accounts to spread disinformation.

“With their fake accounts, they want to divide and influence the upcoming election. This misleading information deceives the Swedish people,” Fritzon explained.

The Swedish prime minister’s leadership has been dealt a severe blow by the revelations of troll farms run by his coalition partners less than a month before the EU elections.

“I demand that Ulf Kristersson step forward as prime minister and ensure that the EU election takes place without undue influence,” Andersson said.

An ongoing EU debate

The EU has been pushing for some form of digital identification that could be compatible with social networks. Starting with the Electronic IDentification, Authentication and Trust Services (eIDAS) Regulation, adopted in 2014, Brussels has laid the groundwork for such online identification.

Under eIDAS, the European Parliament gave its final approval in February to the Digital Identity Regulation, which will create identification wallets that citizens can use to access a range of public and private services.

More recently, these wallets have become part of policymakers’ thinking on how to protect minors online.

However, the vision is still months away from becoming a reality, as France has been on its own intermediary course for six months, using credit cards to verify users’ age when accessing pornographic websites.

(Charles Szumski, Eliza Gkritsi | Euractiv.com)

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