When organizations like Curators of Sweden talk about social media democracy, they are thinking a vibrant experiment where people are free to say what they want but have enough self-control to veer away from trolling.
Curators of Sweden have used the @sweden Twitter account to bring a human face to that country to promote tourism. Anyone who’s a Swedish citizen or resident can apply to handle the Twitter account for a week. This open-ended process has Stephen Colbert interested–he is trying to become the first non-Swede to take control of the @sweden account.
Unfortunately, an outspoken writer, Sonja Abrahamsson, threw a wrench into that idealized version of social media democracy which seemed to have worked.
Abrahamsson, who also goes by the nickname “Hitler,” has been the subject of controversy since she took over the @sweden account earlier this week over comments about Jews that some found offensive. She’s no ordinary Swede—she has a presence on YouTube through her vlogs and is equally as prolific on her own Twitter account (@hejsonja) as she is on @sweden.
So, what seems to be the problem with having her tweet? Making tweets like, “You can’t even see if a person is a jew, unless you see their penises, and even if you do, you can’t be sure!?” or “In nazi German they even had to sew stars on their sleeves. If they didn’t, they could never now [sic] who was a jew and who was not a jew,” did not sit well with some people. Some thought her bizarre questions about Jewish people and making statements like, “Before WW2 Hitler was one of the most beautiful names in the whole wide world,” veered along the side of offensive.
She did, however, apologize for the comments and the organizers have defended her right to free speech in spite of the controversy.
Apart from nicknaming herself “Hitler,” her tweets don’t seem to be provocative as those. So for the remainder of this week, you’ll be regaled with tweets such as, “Once I made a video of me, folding my breasts. It went very popular. But only because of the great ability. People got impressed,” or “Today we are having some kind of uterus for dinner. Not sure what kind of uterus. I ordered it from the internet.”
My take on having anyone and (almost) everyone man a Twitter handle that’s supposed to represent the entire country without censorship: You get what you signed for. Why? When you have attention seekers like Abrahamsson, they will milk such gimmicks for all they’re worth. I don’t know if she’s being kitschy for the sake of kitschy or if that’s how she feels, but Abrahamsson knows how to get people’s attention. This is despite the Curators of Sweden telling every person who takes over, “Please, do this with some dignity — remember that this is an official channel and there are a lot of people reading this, so don’t make a fool of yourself.”
From the looks of it, there’s plenty more to come from the Curators of Sweden. If you’re worried about more trolls, creepers, spammers, and boring people, you’ve been warned.