Partisan Fight Breaks Out Over New Disinformation Board

Nina Jankovic’s new book, “How to Be a Woman Online,” gives Vitriol’s history of how she and other women have faced trolls and other abusive artists. He is now at the center of a new firestorm of criticism over his appointment to head an advisory board in the Department of Homeland Security on the threat of disinformation.

The formation of the board, announced last week, has turned into a partisan fight against misinformation – and if any, what role the government should play in policing false, sometimes toxic and online violent content.

Within hours of the announcement, Republican lawmakers began rallying against the board as Orville, accusing the Biden administration of creating a “truth ministry” for the views of the police. Writing an opinion column in The Wall Street Journal, the two professors noted that the new abbreviated Governance Board was abbreviated as “a letter from the KGB, the security service of the Soviet Union.”

Alejandro Ann. Mayorcas, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, has found himself on the defensive. In a televised interview on CNN on Sunday, he asserted that the new board was a small group, with no operational powers or capabilities, and would not spy on Americans.

“We do not monitor American citizens in the Department of Homeland Security,” he said.

Mr. Mayorkas’s reassurance did little to quell the anger, emphasizing how biased the debate over ambiguity has become. Facing a round of questions about the board on Monday, White House Press Secretary Jane Sackie said it represents the continuation of work that the department’s cybersecurity and infrastructure security agency began in 2020 under the previous administration.

Its focus is to coordinate the department’s response to the potential effects of disinformation threats, including foreign election influence, such as in Russia in 2016 and again in 2020; Smuggler attempts to encourage migrants to cross the border; And online posts that can provoke extreme attacks. Ms. Psky did not elaborate on how the department would define what extremist content is online. She said the board would consider releasing its findings on misinformation, although “a lot of this work is really about work that people can’t see every day going on by the Department of Homeland Security.”

Many of the board’s critics said Ms. Jankovic’s past statements, both online and off, accuse her of being hostile to conservative views. They suggested – without support – that she would use biased calculus to suppress legally protected speech.

Two ranking Republicans on the House committees on intelligence and homeland security – Michael R. Ohio. Turner and John Cuttack of New York – she cited recent comments about the president’s son Hunter Biden’s laptop and Elon Musk’s bid to buy Twitter. As evidence of prejudice.

Ms. Jankowicz, 33, suggested in his book and in public statements that online offensive and inappropriate content could present offline violence and other illegal acts offline – the kind of threats made by the board to monitor. Her book cites research into the melancholy reactions faced by leading women, including Vice President Kamala Harris, since her nomination in 2020.

Ms. Jankovicz has called on social media companies and law enforcement agencies to take strong action against online abuse. Such comments warn that the government should not police online content; He is also Mr. Inspired. Musk, who has said he wants to buy Twitter to free his users from heavy restrictions that he says violates freedom of speech.

“I shudder to think about it, if free speech tyrants were occupying more platforms, what would it be like for marginalized communities around the world, who are already facing such disproportionate amounts of abuse,” she said. Janakovis told NPR in an interview last week about his new book, which refers to those who experience online attacks, especially women and people of color.

a Tweet She was quoted by Mr., using a portion of the quote she sent. Turner and Mr. Katko in his letter to Shri. Majorcas. The note requested “all documents and communications” regarding the composition of the board and Ms. Appointment of Jankowicz as its Executive Director.

The board began working peacefully two months ago, with part-time staff retained by officers from other parts of the larger department. The Homeland Security Department decided to form the board last year after completing a study in the summer that recommended setting up a group to review questions of privacy and civil liberties. For online content, according to John Cohen, the former acting head of the department’s intelligence branch.

Mr Cohen, who left the administration last month, said in an interview.

Mr. Cohen returned to claims that the group would use police language online.

“It’s not a big room with Facebook and Twitter feeds,” Mr Cohen said. “It looks at policy issues, it looks at best practices, it looks at academic research related to how ambiguous environments affect hazardous environments.”

After studying policy questions, the board is expected to submit guidelines to the Secretary of Homeland Security on how various agencies should analyze online content while protecting the civil liberties of Americans and how widely the findings of that analysis can be shared.

According to a statement issued Monday, the department said the board would monitor “misinformation spread by foreign states such as Russia, China and Iran or other adversaries such as international criminal organizations and human trafficking organizations”. The statement also cited misinformation that could be spread during natural disasters, such as misinformation about the safety of drinking water during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

This is not the first time the Homeland Security Department has moved to identify misinformation as a threat to the motherland. The department joined the FBI in issuing terrorist bulletins warning lies about the 2020 election and the Capitol riots in January. 6, 2021, could provoke domestic extremists.

Mr. Majorcas has defended Ms. Jankowicz called her a “reputable expert” who had “reputable qualifications” to advise the department on the security risks that germinate in the online fecund environment. At the same time, he admitted in a simple press release last week that he had mishandled the board’s announcement.

“I think we could have done a better job of communicating what he does and what he doesn’t do,” he told CNN.

Ms. Jankovic has been a familiar critic for years on inaccurate information. She has worked for the National Democratic Institute, an affiliate of the National Endowment for Democracy that promotes democratic governance abroad, and has served as a Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington.

As a Fulbright Fellow, she served as an advisor to the Ukrainian government in 2017. Her 2020 book, “How to Lose the Information War: Russia, Fake News and the Future of Conflict,” focuses on Russia’s information armament. He warned that governments are not prepared and equipped to deal with misinformation.

A quote posted on her biography on the Wilson Center website outlines the challenges for those who will fight against misinformation.

“Misinformation is not a problem; It is democracy, and to defeat it – cross-party, cross-sector, cross-government and cross-border – will require cooperation, “he says.

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