President Joe Biden wants to fight the spread of lies and he has approved a disinformation board group to operate within the Department of Homeland Security that will monitor information spread via the internet.
The board has already been compared to George Orwell’s “Ministry of Truth” — a fictional department in the dystopian novel “1984” in which “big brother” monitors the moves of every citizen. Big Brother is the leader and symbol of the ruling totalitarian party in the novel.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced during testimony at a recent budget hearing of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security that the Disinformation Governance Board had been created to fight the spread of disinformation on the internet.
Conservative politicians have criticized the move and some Black activists say the board might unjustly target Black groups. Similar targeting happened in 2019 when reparations advocates using the #ADOS hashtag (American Descendants of Slavery) on social media were labeled as Russian bots because they were critical of then-presidential candidates Kamala Harris and Cory Booker.
In 2021, Harvard University Journal was forced to retract disinformation of ADOS. After receiving complaints about an article, the Harvard Kennedy School Misinformation Review editorial staff said they “found flaws in the methodology, as well as discrepancies between the data and the findings reported by the authors, resulting in unsubstantiated conclusions drawn from their analyses.”
The writer of the article said they had conducted “a descriptive content analysis from a sample of a dataset made up of 534 thousand scraped tweets, supplemented with access to 1.36 million tweets from the Twitter firehose, from accounts that used the #ADOS hashtag between November 2019 and September 2020,” according to the retraction note.
A ministry of information could unjustly target Black Americans who have radically different points of view than the mainstream Democratic Party.
“People will believe anything. Now, it’s Musk is going to build the wall, REAL FAST and drain the swamp, Twitter edition. In times like these, many REACH for heroes but run into Anti-Christ-like figures, w/ money involved in their belief. More belief, the more $ the leader makes,” The Moguldom Nation CEO Jamarlin Martin tweeted.
Critics say the bureau is another example of the government trying to police free speech on the Internet, calling the board a “dystopian” disinformation bureau.
On Twitter, Republican Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley called the new board a “disgrace” that was designed to “monitor all Americans’ speech.” He also penned a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas, saying he initially thought the board was a “satire.”
“Surely, no American administration would ever use the power of government to sit in judgment on the First Amendment speech of its own citizens. Sadly, I was mistaken,” Hawley wrote.
“Rather than protecting our border or the American homeland, you have chosen to make policing Americans’ speech your priority.”
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Biden has tapped disinformation expert Nina Jankowicz to head the Disinformation Governance Board, also a controversial appointment. Jankowicz, who wrote the 2020 book “How to Lose the Information War: Russia, Fake News, and the Future of Conflict,” has been called out for statements she’s made regarding a laptop believed to belong to the president’s son, Hunter Biden.
But the White House is pushing back saying DHS began its work on disinformation several years ago. “The Department has created the Disinformation Governance Board to ensure this work does not infringe on the fundamental right of free speech and to further protect privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties,” a statement sent to Newsweek read. “To provide this protection, the Board will coordinate the Department’s internal activities related to disinformation that poses a threat to homeland security.”
Photo: Former President Donald Trump talks with Tesla CEO Elon Musk and chief strategist Steve Bannon at a meeting of business leaders at the White House, Feb. 3, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)