The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has anounced that it is ramping up its efforts to supposedly counter disinformation coming from Russia, as well as misleading information circulated by human smugglers to target migrants hoping to travel to the U.S.-Mexico border.
How the US Cranks Up Information War in the Ukrainian Conflict
"The spread of disinformation can affect border security, the safety of Americans during disasters, and public confidence in our democratic institutions," the department said in a statement on Wednesday.
Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said that this newly formed Disinformation Governance Board is said to begin focusing immediately on misinformation targeting migrants, as well as monitor and prepare for Russian disinformation threats as this year's midterm elections approach and the Kremlin continues an aggressive disinformation campaign around the war in Ukraine.
The board will be led by 'disinformation expert' Nina Jankowicz, who has supposedly researched Russian disinformation tactics and online harassment. The Biden Administrations appointment of Jankowicz has received great pushback from both sides of the political spectrum, declairing her unfit.
During the 2020 presidential campaign, Biden, a Democrat, repeatedly said he would press technology companies, including Facebook, to crack down harder on the disinformation and conspiracy theories that have overwhelmed social networks and their users.
DHS said in its statement that the board will "protect privacy, civil rights and civil liberties" as part of its duties.
However, Internet users in the U.S. are concerned over the DHS setting up a new Disinformation Governance Board. Some have made comparisons that this board is going to function as the ‘Ministry of Truth’ from George Orwell’s '1984'.
"Every dictatorship has a propaganda arm — a “Ministry of Truth.” The Biden Administration has now formally joined the ranks of such dictatorships with their creation of the so-called “Disinformation Governance Board”, tweeted 2020 presidential candidate and former Hawaiian congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.
Dozens of Republican lawmakers and pundits took to social media Wednesday to widely criticize the new board and call for its dissolution.
"Instead of policing our border, Homeland Security has decided to make policing Americans' speech their top priority," a tweet from U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri read in part. "They are creating a Disinformation Board."
Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) offered some skepticism, citing his own work on combating foreign misinformation. “I do not believe that the United States government should turn the tools that we have used to assist our allies counter foreign adversaries onto the American people. Our focus should be on bad actors like Russia and China, not our own citizens.”
In February of this year the Department of Homeland Security began to created the necessary grounds to establish their Disinformation Governance Board, following a bulletin that alleged "misinformation" created a heightened threat for domestic terrorism in the U.S.