Disinformation Governance Board: Is Biden admin right to counter ‘misinformation’?

Benjamin Applebaum / DHS

Fact Box

  • On April 27, 2022, Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas revealed the Department of Homeland Security will start a new board “Disinformation Governance Board” to focus on “countering misinformation and disinformation” in the midst of the migrant crisis, election campaigns, and targeted misinformation scams. 
  • Mayorkas stated the DHS, through the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), has a pre-existing operating team, Mis-, Dis-, and Malinformation (MDM), that focuses on “building national resilience to MDM and foreign influence activities.” On April 12, 2022, they released a social media campaign discussing how to decipher misinformation easily. 
  • Just days before, Elon Musk bought Twitter at $44 billion to make the company private. He announced, “Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated.”
  • According to Statista, the prevalence of “fake news” grew during the 2016 election and manifested itself as the COVID-19 pandemic worsened. As of January 21, 2022, just 26% of Americans felt confident in their ability to recognize misinformation, 67% believed fake news created confusion, and 10% of Americans shared fake news knowingly.

Siam (Yes)

With the advent of the internet, misinformation and disinformation have become very common in cyberspace. But the mounting quantity and seemingly relentless flow of false information on the internet over the past few years has threatened American domestic and election security as well as health and safety. It's good the White House, under DHS's Alejandro Mayorkas, has decided to counter this. 

Disinformation has been rampant among human smugglers who pass misleading information about American policies to potential migrants to drum up their business. Just last September, massive disinformation circulated around Biden's immigration policies on social media platforms and led to nearly 14,000 migrants showing up at the border town of Del Rio, TX. This type of disinformation threatens border security and diminishes public trust in our democratic institutions.

Russians are also responsible for spreading disinformation amongst Americans. The Kremlin has implemented an aggressive disinformation campaign in both Ukraine during its war efforts and in America to throw chaos into our domestic political affairs. The Russians have consistently hacked American politicians and disseminated disinformation campaigns aimed at Americans during election time. Recently, Russian state media and social media platforms have utilized cyberspace to call journalists, claiming that videos of bombed buildings and dead civilians in Ukraine are fake.

Finally, a major area of misinformation has circulated around the COVID vaccine. Because some of the data were circulated without much context, many Americans became vaccine-hesitant. Much misinformation about COVID was readily circulated online, resulting in a loss of trust in the medical establishment and the government. Biden's new Disinformation Governance Board is right to recognize this threat and now must obtain the legal power to fight false information both domestically and abroad.

Curtice (No)

Biden's new DHS-run Disinformation Governance Board alludes strongly to the 'Ministry of Truth' found in the dystopian novel 1984. It's as Orwellian as it sounds, bringing America one step closer to federal and online censorship

If the establishment of such an agency was not problematic enough, the appointed leader of the new board, Nina Jankowicz, has a history of practicing disinformation herself. She promoted the now-discredited Steele Dossier (funded by the Clinton campaign) associated with the Trump-Russia collusion disinformation campaign. She also encouraged the lie that Hunter Biden's laptop was Russian disinformation. Given her history, she is not fit to objectively head a 'disinformation' agency, having regularly engaged in it.

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas just testified before Congress that the Biden administration has 'effectively managed' the border crisis. That statement is perhaps the poster child for disinformation. The Biden administration believes anything that contradicts the official White House position or the mainstream media narrative on any topic is 'misinformation'—essentially equating 'false information' to anything they don't like. Information that turned out to be true was suppressed throughout the pandemic because government and media elites labeled it 'misinformation.' This became a weapon used to silence dissenters

The timing of this announcement, coming on the heels of Elon Musk's purchase of Twitter, is highly suspect. Democrats are concerned there is a social media outlet that will no longer do the government's bidding. It also comes just a few short months before the 2022 midterm elections. The creation of this agency is a clear indication the Biden administration and blue checked Twitter liberals are afraid they are losing control of the narrative. As their panic over Musk's purchase of Twitter makes clear, their worst fear—more free speech—is becoming a reality.

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