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Daily targeted in cyberattack after exposing 'fake news factory'

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Daily targeted in cyberattack after exposing 'fake news factory'
Screengrab of Eskiltuna-Kuriren's investigative report
14:39 CET+01:00
Swedish daily Eskilstuna-Kuriren was targeted in a major cyberattack on Friday after exposing a so-called fake news factory which creates its stories by getting influential people to give soundbites which are then heavily edited and presented as “quotes”.

Jörgen Bröms, head of digital development at Eskilstuna-Kuriren, said the newspaper had been targeted in denial-of-service type of attack, with the aim of overloading the website and making it inaccessible.

“A bunch of requests are made at the same time with the purpose of bringing the website down. It looks as though a lot of people are visiting it at once,” he said, noting that “it's impossible to track such attacks.”

According to Bröms, the attack is directly related to the newspapers recent expose of the web-based radio broadcaster Granskning Sverige (Scrutinising Sweden) which claims to represent citizen journalism, encouraging people to phone journalists, politicians and other influential people, provoking conversations with them which are then taped and posted on YouTube. The website compensates its contributors for every 3,000 clicks their recordings garner.  

Eskilstuna-Kuriren recently investigated the online broadcaster, exposing it as a far-right, anti-migrant propaganda machine. The newspaper found that people working for the broadcaster used fake identities to fool their targets into giving them interviews, which were then taped and heavily edited, essentially patching together opinions and “quotes” that were never even uttered.  

After the revelation, reporters at the daily were overwhelmed with emails and phonecalls by people who were both critical, but mostly positive, to their work regarding Granskning Sverige.

“Before publishing [the story] we thought we'd receive a lot of hate, but there's been 99 percent of love,” Editor in Chief Eva Burman was quoted as saying to the newspaper's own website.

“It showed through in all our channels; on social media; people phoned us and stopped us in the street saying it was a good thing,” she said.

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