If Crisis or War comes - printed booklet
04 Jun 2018

Sweden one of the first countries to publish official broschure about war, terror attacks - and fake news


Cover page of the Swedish broschure from MSB
Cover page of the Swedish broschure from MSB, the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency.

European country becomes one of first to directly warn citizens about the dangers of disinformation

In nearly five million mailboxes all over Sweden, an updated version of a Cold War-era brochure arrived last week as a definitive, modern family's guide to 21st century emergency preparedness.

It’s been over 200 years since Sweden went to war with another country but the government still wants its citizens prepared in the event of an emergency.

In addition to war, the government-issued booklet also mentions terrorist attacks, cyber threats and climate-change fuelled weather — all of which were minor or non-existent risks during the Cold War era when the "If War Comes" pamphlet was regularly printed in Sweden.

When the new 20-page version was unveiled to the public last week for the first time in nearly 30 years, headlines worldwide focused on the threat of war. Sweden is very close to Russia, and the new fears about another war seems to escape no-one.

However, as the CBC reports: many of those headlines missed details of a significant addition on page 4: the warning about fake news.

With that, Sweden becomes one of the first nations to directly and publicly warn its citizens, in plain language, about the dangers of disinformation in the modern age — and to provide concrete advice on how to avoid falling for it.

Inside page from the Swedish emergency broschure
Inside page from the Swedish emergency brochure.