Associated Press raises questions about the actual agenda for the new DHS disinformation board

Associated Press raises questions about the actual agenda for the new DHS disinformation board
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Questions and concerns are being raised about the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's newly-formed Disinformation Governance Board. The Associated Press' Amanda Seitz and Nomaan Merchant penned a piece about the new board and its actual agenda.

On Wednesday, May 4, 2022, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas faced scrutiny from Republican lawmakers who have already demanded that the board be dissolved.

“Given the complete lack of information about this new initiative and the potential serious consequences of a government entity identifying and responding to ‘disinformation,’ we have serious concerns about the activities of this new Board,” wrote Reps. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) and John Katko (R-N.Y.), both top-ranking Republicans serving on the House Intelligence Committee and Homeland Security Committee.

On the other side of the political aisle, civil liberties activists have also raised concern about the group possibly infringing upon freedom of speech. While it's no secret that disinformation campaigns are running rampant on social media and have a negative influence on personal opinion, there are already concerns that the board's unstable launch may undermine its integrity to mitigate disinformation.

“It is just an episodic failure,” said Brian Murphy, who previously served as the director of DHS’ intelligence arm. “And it has set the true disinformation professionals, wherever they live, back.”

However, the board argues otherwise. During his testimony before Congress on Wednesday, Mayorkas insisted that the board is "going to establish what should have been established years ago: standards, definitions, guidelines, and policies."

Despite the board's efforts to mitigate disinformation, Katie Harbath, Facebook's former public policy director who now works as the technology and democracy director International Republican Institute, pointed out that the board still will not have the power to remove disinformation from social media platform. That area of governance will still be within the powers of individual social media platforms.

“DHS is going to have to do what they normally do,” Harbath said. “If there’s a post they think should be taken down or fact-checked, they can report that to the platforms, but the platforms are going to make their own call.”

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