Do photos show mass microchipping has begun in Sweden? No, that's not true: Only a few thousand Swedes have had the rice- grain-sized chips implanted under the skin of their hand over the past several years, hardly a "mass microchipping" of Sweden's population of more than 10 million people. Some of the photo examples used in an article making the claim are not even from Sweden. While the article claims "many Swedish companies" are asking workers to accept the implants, very few have done so and the number of employees is limited.
The claim originated in from an article (archived here) where it was published by prepforthat.com on November 26, 2018, under the title "Disturbing New Photos Show Mass Microchipping In Sweden Has Begun." It opened:
Swedish corporations are now implanting their workers with microchips. Employees are taking to social media and posting the surgical procedure photos.
Swedish medical staff surgically implants the chips into the area between the thumb and index finger. The goal is to offer Swedes more convenience in everyday life. Earlier this month, we reported that U.K. companies are beginning to ask that their employees be microchipped similar to the Swedes.
Many Swedish companies ask employees to voluntarily sign up for a microchip implant. And workers are accepting the offers and volunteering to have the procedures done. Of course, one must consider the ramifications of such "volunteer-based" microchipping. I'll get to that in a bit.
This is what the story looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:
We will first point out that the published article used a sort of click-bait-and-switch tactic, using one headline in it's social media posts and another on the webpage. The title "Disturbing New Photos Show Mass Microchipping In Sweden Has Begun" is what is used to lure social platform users to click on the story, where they then see the headline "Swedish Microchipping Photos Flood Social Media And It's Insane."
The claim we are specifically debunking is that "mass microchipping in Sweden has begun."
Microchips have been implanted in our pets for years as a way to identify them when they are lost. The first human you likely saw with a chip in his shoulder was actor Denzel Washington's character in the 2004 movie The Manchurian Candidate. It is great for pets, but it was a disaster for Denzel's character. The idea of putting implants in Swedes took off around 2014 when professional body piercer Jowan Osterlund bought some industrial-grade microchips and programmed them for human use. His company BioHax International had implanted chips in about 4,000 Swedes when NPR.com published a story about it titled Thousands Of Swedes Are Inserting Microchips Under Their Skin in October 2018:
After spending the past two years working full time on the project, he is currently developing training materials so he can hire Swedish doctors and nurses to help take on some of his heavy workload.
"Having different cards and tokens verifying your identity to a bunch of different systems just doesn't make sense," he says. "Using a chip means that the hyper-connected surroundings that you live in every day can be streamlined."
A year later, Germany's Spiegel.de reported in an article October 2019 article titled "The Ethical Minefield of Microchipping" the number was just 5,000:
An estimated 5,000 people in Sweden, which has a total population of 10.2 million, have had chips planted under their skin, which they use to open their front door or even as a digital train ticket. But they have done so on their own. For a company like TUI to encourage employees to take the step is still the exception rather than the rule in the country.
As recently as late 2019, it was still just a few employees at a few Swedish companies. Hardly a "mass microchipping."