Norwegian media fall for Russian trolls

Peaceful Assembly

Due to the measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, public life in Norway has come to a standstill as most gatherings have been temporarily prohibited. As a result, civic freedoms cannot be practised as normal.

Expression

An investigation by Norwegian public broadcaster NRK has found that in the past few years all the major media outlets in Norway have placed tweets of Russian fake accounts on their websites. At least eight media outlets - ABC Nyheter, Aftenposten, Dagbladet, Nettavisen, NRK, Side 2, TV and VG - fell for the fake messages from the Internet Research Agency, a Russian 'troll factory'. Some tweets fuelled Islamophobia and spread fake news about US President Donald Trump. Other tweets covered less controversial topics such as an explosion in a chemical factory in Germany.

The results of the study reveal that even professional journalists can fall victim to disinformation. NRK's editor-in-chief said he hopes these revelations will lead to more vigilance. All media outlets covered in the investigation have removed the fake tweets from their websites.

In other news, Norway has remained at the top of the Reporters Without Borders 2020 World Press Freedom Index for a fourth year.