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New version of handbook for communicators – Countering information influence activities

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Published: 2019-03-25 kl. 13:50
The Swedish Government has decided that authorities must be able to identify and counter information influence campaigns. The Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) has therefore been working actively since 2014 to identify, understand and counter information influence activities. An important part of this work is to increase public awareness of information influence by disseminating knowledge. For this reason, MSB is publishing a new version of the handbook and during the spring will be educating staff at the monitoring authorities in its use.

The deterioration of the international situation has brought into focus the need for more knowledge about how authorities can identify, understand and counter information influence activities. Information influence campaigns have become increasingly sophisticated and can be used both in peacetime and in war and affect our authorities' roles and responsibilities.

Information influence activities can exploit society's vulnerabilities and challenge the functioning of society, our fundamental values such as democracy, the rule of law and human rights and ultimately life and health. Safeguarding free debate, free opinion-forming, the principles of freedom of expression and democratic discourse is fundamental in the work of countering information influence activities.

"The aim is for the handbook to strengthen the awareness, knowledge and capabilities of monitoring authorities and other concerned stakeholders by presenting in an easily accessible, visual and practical way knowledge of and methods for how information influence activities can be identified and countered," says Mikael Tofvesson, deputy head of the MSB's operations department.

The handbook consists of three main parts and is based on the communicator's role and perspectives:

What are information influence activities, how are vulnerabilities used to influence, and how do I know when and whether my organisation is vulnerable?

What is the purpose of information influence activities, what are the main techniques used and how are these components connected?

How do I work preventively in my organisation, how do I choose the right method to counter information influence activities and how does the organisation make use of experience of being attacked?

What are information influence activities?

MSB defines information influence activities as: "Activities carried out by foreign powers, or antagonistic actors, with the purpose of influencing different target groups' perceptions, behaviours and decision-making. Information influence activities can exploit society's vulnerabilities and challenge the population's lives and health, the functioning of society, our fundamental values such as democracy, the rule of law and human rights and freedoms or other national interests." MSB is commissioned by the government to identify, counter and disseminate knowledge about information influence activities and focuses its work primarily on the information influence activities of foreign powers and Islamic extremists and in particular "Da'esh", the so-called Islamic State's propaganda.

MSB's work on the handbook began with a compilation of research in the field from several different countries and has been developed by the Department of Strategic Communication at Lund University on behalf of MSB.

Download the handbook

Download the research report "The State of the Art"

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Fredrik Konnander
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