False information: the tip of the iceberg

As we wrote on February 13th this year, BCC has been the target of a psychological campaign for several years. False and distorted information about our church has been spread through various media outlets. Today, April 19th, the newspaper Tønsberg’s Blad writes on their website that they had contact over a longer period of time with representatives from Psy-Group, who wanted the newspaper’s assistance in various way in exchange for information about BCC.

By Berit H. Nilsen

The Israeli company Psy-Group was established by former Mossad intelligence agents and often worked for unnamed clients. One of Psy-Group’s slogans was “Shape reality”: they offered to influence public opinion and decision makers through social and editorial media manipulation, private intelligence, hacking, and agents using false identities. The company has also been accused of using physical violence as a means of persuasion.

READ: BCC targeted by former intelligence agents 

According to Tønsberg’s Blad, the newspaper has not been influenced by Psy-Group, and BCC is pleased that the newspaper has distanced itself from such activities. We welcome the news that the newspaper has taken the initiative to bring the matter to light.

In our view, it is first and foremost a media responsibility to protect society from companies like Psy-Group. Unfortunately, there are very few actions a church like BCC can take to protect itself from campaigns by resourceful actors selling fabricated information.

Unnamed and paid sources

Companies like Psy-Group exploit editorial staff by offering stories that titillate readers, often based on unnamed, paid sources. BCC’s profile is a serious and credible one, and we believe that over time this will offset the effect of false and distorted information.

BCC has repeatedly urged the media to be cautious with the use of anonymous sources and wish to reiterate this request. We are shocked by the development of a society where private clients with financial means can hire resourceful actors to distort facts and influence political, economic, and legal processes. We believe that the media’s social responsibility to mediate truthful facts is important to our democracy.

Many media companies find it challenging to deal with professional, covert efforts from players with extensive financial and technical resources. We are pleased that in spite of this, many media companies take the challenge very seriously.

Unfortunately, Psy-Group’s contact with Tønsberg’s Blad is probably only the tip of the iceberg.

April 19th, 2019 article from Tønsberg’s Blad