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‘War Is Coming’: Mysterious TikTok Videos Are Scaring Sweden’s Children

By Elizabeth Braw,  Defense One

The campaign offers an early test for the country’s new anti-disinformation agency.

In Sweden, an unusual anxiety is afflicting children and young teenagers. Some can’t sleep. Some ask their parents if Russia is about to attack their country. Where did they get that idea? TikTok.

“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.

This weekend a question posted on Twitter turned into a gathering of adults concerned about things they’d been picking up from their nine-, ten-, eleven, twelve-year-old children and pupils. Is it true that information saying that war is coming to Sweden is being pumped out on TikTok? a Twitter user asked. The question drew dozens of parents to report that their young children had suddenly begun asking if Russia was about to invade.

“My 11-year-old was extremely frightened yesterday and asked whether there was going to be war soon,” one mother wrote.

Other parents reported that their children suddenly seemed anxious. When they asked what was the matter, it turned out the kids had been seeing the same kind of videos on TikTok. Elementary-school teachers reported that pupils had mentioned similar fears. Other parents checked with their children and sure enough, they’d seen them too.

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