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