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US Shuts Down Disinformation Governance Board After Launch Three Weeks Earlier

May 30th, 2022 15:41

US media is report­ing that just three weeks after being announced, the first “Dis­in­for­ma­tion Gov­er­nance Board” of the US Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty is being shut down fol­low­ing what the Wash­ing­ton Post describes as “an unre­lent­ing bar­rage of harass­ment and abuse” tar­get­ing its Exec­u­tive Direc­tor. Accord­ing to the Wash­ing­ton Post report:

May 18, 2022 On the morn­ing of April 27, the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty announced the cre­ation of the first Dis­in­for­ma­tion Gov­er­nance Board with the stat­ed goal to “coor­di­nate coun­ter­ing mis­in­for­ma­tion relat­ed to home­land secu­ri­ty.” The Biden admin­is­tra­tion tapped Nina Jankow­icz, a well-known fig­ure in the field of fight­ing dis­in­for­ma­tion and extrem­ism, as the board’s exec­u­tive direc­tor. In nam­ing the 33-year-old Jankow­icz to run the new­ly cre­at­ed board, the admin­is­tra­tion chose some­one with exten­sive expe­ri­ence in the field of dis­in­for­ma­tion, which has emerged as an urgent and impor­tant issue. The author of the books “How to Be a Woman Online” and “How to Lose the Infor­ma­tion War,” her career also fea­tured stints at mul­ti­ple non­par­ti­san think tanks and non­prof­its and includ­ed work that focused on strength­en­ing demo­c­ra­t­ic insti­tu­tions. With­in the small com­mu­ni­ty of dis­in­for­ma­tion researchers, her work was well-regard­ed. But with­in hours of news of her appoint­ment, Jankow­icz was thrust into the spot­light by the very forces she ded­i­cat­ed her career to com­bat­ing. The board itself and DHS received crit­i­cism for both its some­what omi­nous name and scant details of spe­cif­ic mis­sion (Home­land Secu­ri­ty Sec­re­tary Ale­jan­dro May­orkas said it “could have done a bet­ter job of com­mu­ni­cat­ing what it is and what it isn’t”), but Jankow­icz was on the receiv­ing end of the harsh­est attacks, with her role mis­char­ac­ter­ized as she became a pri­ma­ry tar­get on the right-wing Inter­net. She has been sub­ject to an unre­lent­ing bar­rage of harass­ment and abuse while unchecked mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tions of her work con­tin­ue to go viral. Home­land Secu­ri­ty Sec­re­tary Ale­jan­dro May­orkas on May 1 respond­ed to crit­ics call­ing a new depart­ment ini­tia­tive a vio­la­tion of free speech. Now, just three weeks after its announce­ment, the Dis­in­for­ma­tion Gov­er­nance Board is being “paused,” accord­ing to mul­ti­ple employ­ees at DHS, cap­ping a back-and-forth week of deci­sions that changed dur­ing the course of report­ing of this sto­ry. On Mon­day, DHS decid­ed to shut down the board, accord­ing to mul­ti­ple peo­ple with knowl­edge of the sit­u­a­tion. By Tues­day morn­ing, Jankow­icz had draft­ed a res­ig­na­tion let­ter in response to the board’s dissolution.

Read the rest here.

The Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report (GIOR) has report­ed oth­er on oth­er inter­na­tion­al efforts to com­bat dis­in­for­ma­tion and for­eign influence.