‘Disinformation’ board paused amid free speech questions; director resigns – Boston, Massachusetts

Boston, Massachusetts 2022-05-18 16:16:00 –


File-The Department of Homeland Security logo was seen at a joint press conference held in Washington on February 25, 2015. AP Photo / Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File

Washington (AP) — On Wednesday, the Department of Homeland Security suspended work on a new controversial board on disinformation, accepted the resignation of its leader, and weeks of concern over conflicts with the right to freedom of speech. And sometimes overturned the enthusiastic conspiracy theory about the board itself.

What has not yet been seen is whether the debate over the board will damage the ongoing US efforts to counter disinformation used as a weapon by Russia and other adversaries. Secretary Alejandro Mallorcas admitted that the board had interfered with other tasks in the ministry, including the protection of US elections, two officials familiar with his decision said.

According to the Associated Press’s resignation, Disinformation Governance Board director Nina Jankowicz wrote on Wednesday that the future of the board is “uncertain.”

The board is not officially closed, but will be reviewed by members of the DHS Advisory Board, which is expected to make recommendations within 75 days. The Washington Post first reported a suspension of the board of directors.

Federal and state agencies treat disinformation as a national security threat. In a statement announcing its inauguration, the new initiative coordinates efforts on the threat of Russia’s disinformation campaign targeting the United States and false allegations that encourage immigrants to travel to the U.S.-Mexico border. Said.

However, the new board was hampered from the beginning by questions about its purpose, funding, and work in uneven deployments that further disrupted its mission. Mallorcus had a hard time answering questions about the work of the board in front of lawmakers earlier this month.

Mallorcus responded to cumulative negative reactions and growing concerns that it would interfere with other departmental work on disinformation, according to two department officials who discussed internal deliberations on condition of anonymity. We have decided to suspend the board of directors.

“The board has been terribly deliberately misunderstood, not about censorship or cracking down on speech,” the agency said in a statement. “It was designed to ensure that we fulfill our mission to protect our homeland while preserving our core constitutional rights.”

White House spokesman Karine Jean-Pierre said the board had never met and neither the department nor Jankovic had the authority to censor or remove content labeled as disinformation.

DHS officials should explain their concerns about how the board affects the issue of freedom of speech and online privacy as an internal working group aimed at studying the definition of disinformation across the department. I tried to calm down.

However, opponents were not convinced of the work and purpose of the board.

Homeland Security intelligence and top Republicans of the Homeland Security Commission issued a joint statement on Wednesday calling the board “a political means controlled by political parties.”

“This committee has only succeeded in reinforcing the Department of Homeland Security’s terribly misguided priorities,” wrote Ohio’s Mike Turner and New York’s John Katko. ..

Utah Republican Senator Mitt Romney told Mallorcus that the board was a “terrible idea” to “tell the world that we intend to spread propaganda in our country.”

20 Republican lawyers, led by Virginia’s Jason Miyares, threatened Mallorcus in a legal proceeding, “unless we turn back now and immediately disband this Orwell’s Information Leakage Governance Commission,” Miyares said. Said in a statement.

Receiving online and across conservative television shows was even worse.

The phrase “Ministry of Truth,” a reference to George Orwell’s “1984,” became popular on Twitter during discussions on the board of directors. Conservative professionals and social media users have pushed conspiracy theories and falsehoods around that goal, and the board was quickly developed by DHS in response to billionaire Elon Musk’s attempt to buy Twitter. Some people mistakenly claimed that it was done. Others have made false claims that Jankovic plans to edit the tweets of everyday Twitter users.

“It’s been really misunderstood from the beginning,” said Cindy Otis, a disinformation researcher and former CIA analyst.

Disinformation experts warned that the controversy over the board could undermine existing efforts to identify and stop the spread of false stories about elections and hotbutton issues in American society. ..

Russia has sought to influence the last two presidential elections by boosting false stories and using social media to fuel the division of American society on issues such as racial and coronavirus pandemics. .. It has continued to spread a misleading story about the invasion of Ukraine. US intelligence officials have also accused China and Iran of marketing disinformation to Americans. DHS has several ongoing programs to combat disinformation, including the efforts of US cybersecurity and infrastructure security agencies to uncover fraudulent election claims.

But Otis warned, “It’s really a shame if they decide that disinformation is too publicly sensitive to the problem.”

Jankowicz was also the center of sexist and anti-Semitic attacks, even threatening to kill online. The Fox News personality recently questioned whether Jankovic should agree to lead the board during pregnancy.

Critics pointed out Jankovich’s remarks that questioned the source of the laptop, allegedly owned by the president’s eldest son, Hunter Biden, and recorded a TikTok video of her disinformation “Mary Poppins.” Played along with the song.

Proponents of Jankowicz accused the department of not doing enough to protect her from trolls and online attacks.

“It’s a shame that the false characteristics of the board have hampered the department’s important work. In fact, along with recent global and national events, it embodies why it is needed.” Jankovic wrote in his resignation.

‘Disinformation’ board paused amid free speech questions; director resigns Source link ‘Disinformation’ board paused amid free speech questions; director resigns

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