How Sweden Handed Its Official Twitter Account Over To A Troll

from the what's-next,-rickrolling? dept

Over the weekend, the NY Times profiled the fact that Sweden hands its official @Sweden twitter account over to a different citizen each week, and lets them control it. It was the brain child of the Swedish Institute and the national tourist agency -- with the idea of showcasing some of Sweden's quirkiness. And, from the sound of the NY Times article, it had been mostly working. Some of the tweets were a bit edgy or weird, but nothing too crazy. Until now. Right after the article came out, Sweden handed the account over to a woman named Sonja Abrahamsson -- who proceeded to surprise a lot of people (including many new @Sweden followers, due to the NY Times coverage) with a series of tweets that one could deem offensive to just about anyone -- including ignorant or offensive statements and questions about Jews, gays, Africans, those with downs syndrome, those with AIDS and a variety of other people/groups as well. An example:

This has, not surprisingly, received a fair bit of media attention, with people questioning what happened.

Of course, the most obvious answer is that Sweden handed its Twitter account over to a troll. The topic choices are so troll-worthy that it's hard to believe that the person behind the account is genuinely saying these things. It seems quite clear that it's standard troll behavior: say stupid stuff to get people to react -- and tons of people are feeding the troll in response. The really stunning part, of course, is that the folks who manage the account didn't realize this ahead of time. As multiple people have pointed out, Sonja's own blog has plenty of evidence of similar trolling activities on a smaller scale.

And, perhaps, the Swedish tourist board actually did this on purpose. A spokesperson defended giving Sonja control of the account:
“It’s very important for us to let everyone take a unique viewpoint,” said Tommy Sollen, Social Media Manager at VisitSweden, in a phone interview. “Every one of our curators is there with a different perspective.” ....

“Some of them have been talking about music, some of them have been talking about food,” he said. “Sonja is more focused on her own brand of humor and asking probing questions.”
So they seem to recognize that trolling is a "brand of humor." And I'm surprised that no one has yet mentioned the fact that the NY Times article was sent from the town of Trollhattan, Sweden. It's like they were born to troll...

Of course, if Sweden is going to let @Sweden be trolled, it was only a matter of time until Stephen Colbert asked for control of the account, and urged the Colbert Nation to convince the Swedish tourism bureau to allow non-Swedes to control the account -- something they've said they might consider "in the future."
Oh, and while having a troll be your official representation online for a week may, at first pass, seem like a bad thing, it is worth noting that it looks like the number of people following @Sweden has more than doubled since the NY Times article came out -- with much of the increase happening in just the last day or so after the whole trolling thing started to get more attention.

Filed Under: social media, sonja abrahamsson, sweden, troll
Companies: twitter

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2012 @ 2:05pm

    Re: Re:

    What is a WAMMMBULANCE?

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