Earlier this week, several days out from Sweden’s parliamentary elections, two social media tech giants blocked top officials from the sovereigntist, right-wing Alternativ för Sverige (AfS) party from accessing their accounts, effectively cutting the party’s ability to communicate with tens of thousands of their followers.
Gustav Kasselstrand, the leader of Alternativ för Sverige (AfS), a party that has distinguished itself among others in Europe for its uncompromising support of remigration policies, took to Twitter on Wednesday to inform the public that Facebook had blocked his ability to access both his personal and the party’s official pages, the Swedish news portal Samnytt reports.
“Since Sunday, Facebook has blocked my access to all pages. I currently have no access to my own page with 22,000 followers or to the Alternativ för Sverige party page, which has 60,000 followers,” Kasselstrand wrote in a post.
Speaking on the shameless act of political censorship—and the Silicon Valley tech giant’s interference in his country’s democratic process— Kasselstrand told Samnytt:
They wrote to me, saying that “access to your pages is temporarily restricted until you complete the publishing authorization.” But there is nothing to complete, nothing to submit.
They refer to the fact that there is an error in the information that has been provided without me knowing at all what would be wrong or what information must be provided. I have had this page for almost ten years. It says a few different things I have to do to confirm my information but there is nowhere to submit anything, it just says “read more.”
I thought this was something temporary and they would cancel this at any time, but now several days have passed and I’ve realized that this is not just a temporary error. It seems that they want to shut me down right up until the elections. I felt it was time to inform the public about this.
Of course, it cannot be proven, but it can hardly be a coincidence that Facebook blocks my access a week before the election and allows it to continue. I haven’t denied them any information and have been completely open about my identity, so there can’t be anything suspicious in that way either.
The Silicon Valley tech giant isn’t the only social media platform that has blocked top AfS officials from accessing their accounts ahead of the election.
On September 6th, the hugely popular video hosting service TikTok, owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, blocked Evelina Hahne, a Riksdag candidate for Alternativ för Sverige, from accessing her account until the day after the parliamentary election.
“I have been blocked from TikTok until the day after the election because I made AfS-positive videos (which did not violate any of the platform’s rules). Social media companies engage in direct election influence, which restricts democracy and freedom of expression,” Hahne wrote on Twitter.
Robert Semonsen is a political journalist based in Central Europe. His work has been featured in various English-language news outlets in Europe and the Americas. He has an educational background in biological and medical science. His Twitter handle is @R_Semonsen.