The Department of Homeland Security announced Wednesday that it was suspending the work of the Internal Advisory Board in a bid to combat disinformation after the department described it as a deliberate disinformation campaign.
The formation of the panel, known as the Disinformation Governance Board, drew criticism when it was announced last month. When criticism came from the political spectrum, including civil liberties groups, the fierce condemnation came from the right. Republican leaders and critics have spoken of him as the Orvilian Ministry of Truth who will police the people’s speech.
It was never a board order, the department said in a written statement. Instead, its purpose was to coordinate the department’s various agencies in the fight against foreign opponents, drug or human traffickers, or other international crime groups.
Weeks after his debut, however, his future is now in doubt. Nina Jankoviz, an authority on disinformation who was chosen to lead the board in the spring, submitted her resignation on Wednesday after facing abusive and highly personal harassment and online abuse.
“False attacks have become a significant distraction from the department’s critical role in countering misinformation that threatens the safety and security of the American people,” the department said in a statement.
Secretary of the Department, Alejandro N. Mayorcas, a bipartisan pair of former officials, has been asked to review the issue of combating misinformation: Michael Chertoff, who met with President George W. Bush. Served as secretary of the department under Bush and Jamie S. Gorelick, Deputy Attorney General under President Bill Clinton.
Mr. Mayorks asked him to prepare recommendations within 75 days and said he would not call the board during that period. “His work will be suspended,” the statement said, confirming the suspension, which was previously reported in The Washington Post.
Ms. Djankovic’s departure, linked to the board’s troubled rollout, makes it unlikely he will resume work in anything like his current form.
“We have killed the Ministry of Truth!” One of the board’s many Republican critics, Florida MP Matt Getz, wrote on Twitter.
Angelo Caruso, president of Media Matters for America, a left-leaning watchdog group, said the board’s opposition was quickly and fiercely unified, signaling a concerted and motivated effort. He noted that the fight against misinformation has long been part of the government’s efforts to return to the Cold War campaign by the Soviet Union.
The current political climate, however, has turned the issue into a lightning rod, he said, adding that officials should expect better. Instead, they seem to be caught off guard by the response.
“I think it’s unfair to all of us that we lose this work, especially in the wake of what we saw in Buffalo, because it’s the result of this landscape of information,” Mr. Caruso said referring to the racist mass shootings there. “It’s a Tinderbox.”
Ms. as the director of the board. Jankovic, 33, was the victim of an attack, a subject he knew well. In the history of her most recent book, How to Be a Woman Online, she and other women face trolls and other abusive actors on the Internet.
In her resignation letter submitted on Wednesday, she said she has joined the department this year to help eliminate the effects of disinformation.
“It’s very frustrating,” she wrote, “that the board’s misguided features have become a distraction from the department’s important work, and indeed, with recent events globally and nationally, it shows why it’s necessary.”