Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas holds a press briefing, Friday, September 24, 2021, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Hannah Foslien)
Photo licensed via Adobe Stock

U.S. Shuts Down Its Paused Disinformation Governance Board

Faced with resounding unpopularity, the Department of Homeland Security has decided that the Board is not necessary

The Department of Homeland Security, facing widespread backlash, has ended the governance board that would decide what news is “disinformation”:

“In accordance with the HSAC’s prior recommendation, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas has terminated the Disinformation Governance Board and rescinded its charter effective today, August 24, 2022.

“With the HSAC recommendations as a guide, the Department will continue to address threat streams that undermine the security of our country consistent with the law, while upholding the privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties of the American people and promoting transparency in our work.”

Following HSAC Recommendation, DHS terminates Disinformation Governance Board” at Department of Homeland Security (August 24, 2022)

The Board had been placed on hold shortly after its inception in April. By July, the Department of Homeland Security had already concluded that there was no need for a Disinformation Governance Board but Wednesday’s statement made it official.

As CBS News reported in May, the response to the idea of the government deciding what, in general, was “disinformation” or “misinformation, was “overwhelmingly negative” from when the proposed new Board was first unveiled in April. At the Wall Street Journal, prominent journalist Daniel Henninger advised “Pull the Plug on the Disinformation Governance Board — Biden and Mayorkas should fire Mary Poppins.” (May 4, 2022).

Nina Jankowicz on Cyber Security
Nina Jankowicz, October 10, 2019

As it happens, “Mary Poppins” — reputed disinformation expert Nina Jankowicz — resigned on May 18, following, we are told, a “right-wing backlash.” As it happens, negative reviews like that of Politico, “Designed as a interdepartmental working group to suggest best practices, Homeland Security’s new office has made a splash for all the wrong reasons” (May 5, 2022), were pretty mainstream:

When Jankowicz suggested that Twitter Blue Checks should be allowed to “edit” those “who aren’t, you know, legit,” she was fulfilling bipartisan fears. Few journalists really want the fox to have a key to the henhouse.

Here’s one illustration of why: Both the Trump and the Biden administrations are now known to have misled the public in various ways during the COVID-19 pandemic. Under those circumstances, correct information could easily be officially classified as “disinformation” and perhaps subject to penalty. Significantly, special targets for the Disinformation Board’s attack were to be U.S. public doubt about face masks and COVID vaccines and suspicion of Big Science claims that the virus arose naturally. All these are matters of current heated debate:

In early June, Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) announced that he and [Josh] Hawley had obtained “internal DHS records provided through protected whistleblower disclosures” (pdf) that showed how the board “was designed to exert powerful influence over the government’s efforts to crack down on disinformation in areas where there are ‘clear, objective facts.’”

“However, it remains unclear how DHS defines ‘clear, objective facts,’” the senators said in a statement. “Documents show that DHS was not just focused on foreign disinformation but also issues at the heart of longstanding political debate such as theories about the validity of elections, the origins and effects of COVID-19 vaccines, and the efficacy of wearing masks.”

Mimi Nguyen Ly, “DHS Shuts Down Disinformation Governance Board, Months After Pause” at The Epoch Times

Serious journalism — what’s left of it — dodged a bullet this time round.

You may also wish to read: Why many now “reject science”… COVID demonstrated — as nothing else could — that the “science” was all over the map and didn’t help people avoid panic. As the panic receded, the government started setting up a disinformation board to target NON-government sources of panic, thus deepening loss of trust.

Mind Matters News

Breaking and noteworthy news from the exciting world of natural and artificial intelligence at MindMatters.ai.

U.S. Shuts Down Its Paused Disinformation Governance Board