An independent watchdog has recommended that the Department of Homeland Security develop a “unified strategy” to combat the spread of misinformation online.
The inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security argued that the department needs to come up with a coherent plan to address the growing number of falsehoods spreading online that could threaten civil “unrest” in the country, without calling for the reactivation of the controversial Disinformation Governance Board, which DHS put on hold in May.
Following a wave of criticism, BIDEN suspended his controversial Disinformation Board.
According to a report published on Wednesday by the DHS watchdog, “DHS is responsible for coordinating the national response to cyber incidents.” Without a coherent plan, “DHS components face limited communication and awareness among themselves, restrictions, and confusion over which DHS component should lead specific efforts to counter disinformation.”
According to the data compiled for this report, the DHS has formed multiple groups in recent years to combat disinformation campaigns. For instance, in 2018, it set up the Foreign Influence and Interference Branch in its Office of Intelligence and Analysis and the Countering Foreign Influence Task Force.
However, according to the DHS watchdog’s report, the DHS lacks “top-down guidance from the [DHS] Secretary to mitigate disinformation” after an audit of the department’s strategy for countering disinformation campaigns on social media.
In order to better coordinate efforts to counter disinformation campaigns, the report suggested the DHS Office of Strategy, Policy, and Plans develop detailed plans for a “unified strategy” to counter the malicious misinformation campaigns.
In addition, the report states that “a more unified strategy is needed to mitigate the threat of civil unrest from disinformation that may spread rumors about COVID-19 vaccines or increase fear about food and supply shortages.”
To combat the spread of misinformation online, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told the House Judiciary Committee in April that his department had set up a disinformation board. The Department of Homeland Security said the board was created to combat “false information that is deliberately spread with the intent to deceive or mislead.” After about three weeks, the DHS suspended the board.
Conservatives such as Tucker Carlson of Fox News panned the board, calling it the “Ministry of Truth” and calling its policies Orwellian. Nina Jankowicz, the board’s chair, has also come under fire from conservatives for controversial statements she made on social media, such as those she made about alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
A council subcommittee recommended the DHS eliminate the board altogether last month.
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While advocating for a “unified strategy,” the DHS OIG made clear in its report that it had not reviewed the disinformation board.
The auditors noted in the report’s footnote that “we did not validate detailed information about the board, a strategy, or milestones as part of this audit,” because those things were developed after the fieldwork had already been completed.
The Examiner of Washington Keywords: Videos, News, Cyber, Social Media, Disinformation, and Homeland Security
Ryan King, the original author
Originally Founding Place: After the downfall of a disinformation board, a DHS watchdog is calling for a “unified” strategy to combat disinformation.
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