U.S. Homeland Security Creates "Disinformation Governance Board" To Combat "Misinformation"
In February the US Department of Homeland Security stated that sharing "misinformation" online may be considered domestic terrorism. The latest news with regards to Homeland Security's efforts came from their Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. He testified Wednesday that the Department of Homeland Security has created a "Disinformation Governance Board" to combat misinformation ahead of the 2022 midterms, but the effort has long been underway.
Mayorkas said the Disinformation Governance Board will be led by Undersecretary for Policy Rob Silver, and co-chaired with principal deputy general counsel Jennifer Gaskill. The board will be headed by executive director Nina Jankowicz.
News of the Disinformation Governance Board comes two days after Tesla CEO Elon Musk secured a $44 billion deal to buy Twitter, a move that seemingly caused panic among many who fear more free speech on Twitter may be a bad thing. We go into a deeper discussion about that here if you're interested.
According to Mayorkas, the department of Homeland Security claims they are seeing a growing connection between disinformation and the alleged ongoing threat posed by domestic extremism.
“I think that we are seeing, indeed, a greater connectivity between misinformation and false narratives propagated on social media and the threat landscape,[...] I think it’s very important to state that words matter. False narratives about a stolen election have an impact on the threat landscape. The words of leaders matter a lot. So I think we’re seeing a greater connectivity,”
Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas
The challenge here yet again is in what the government deems as false narratives and what is actually a false narrative. Take the Freedom Convoy in Ottawa, Canada for example. Government and mass media claimed most of the 'anti-vaxxers' in attendance were motivated to be there due to misinformation about COVID vaccines and vaccine mandates. But were they really? Was their position actually incorrect? It depends on who you ask, but through our on the ground coverage, no, these people were not misinformed.
Therein lies the problem,. That event was considered domestic terrorism. And now the government can say "see, this is what disinformation online leads to!" Bang, censorship justified.
Mayorkas goes on to discuss the new challenges with platforms like Telegram and Signal, where governments can't easily snoop on conversations people have - a problem that is legitimate when we're talking about real, dangerous terrorist events, but overstated and hyperbole when we're talking about to sharing of 'disinformation.'
“The use of encrypted channels of communication, it’s posed a challenge to law enforcement well before Jan. 6 2021. That is, quite frankly, another element that makes up the threat landscape for us, not just the fact that we are often addressing soul actors or loose affiliations of groups, but the fact that they can use encrypted channels of communication,”
Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas
Once again, misinformation can be problematic, and doing something to limit the spread of obviously false information is one thing. But what about stories and facts that are true but that mainstream conjecture simply doesn't recognize yet?
Why do government affiliated organizations get to decide what's true when the entire purpose of journalism is to hold the government accountable? If government can inform third party social media fact checkers what constitutes "misinformation," can't they usurp the entire purpose of journalism?
Again, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we've seen these organizations muzzle thousands of renowned scientists and doctors for simply presenting evidence that called into question government health policy. Furthermore, we've seen how Julian Assange has been treated for publishing truthful information that helped expose war crimes by the US government.
What we are seeing here more than anything else is an attempt to control narratives.
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This is the reality of what censorship has already done. It often feels that the 'powers that be' will kick the legs out from anyone who isn't mainstream media and government so they don't have much of a voice when it comes to major global events.
On many occasions, we've even been punished for sharing information that was later deemed a real possibility. Remember when the world was told the COVID lab leak theory was a “false conspiracy theory” only for it to be seriously investigated as a possible reality just one year later?
Our YouTube account at The Pulse has been deleted twice for “spreading COVID misinformation,” when in fact there was nothing false about the content we shared. We even had videos deleted for "COVID misinformation" that were not about COVID at all. Thankfully, months later and after many appeals, YouTube changed their mind.
Facebook has removed at least 16 million pieces of content from its platform, and added warnings to approximately 167 million others. YouTube has removed nearly 1 million videos related to, according to them, “dangerous or misleading covid-19 medical information.”
These are signs that we are living in and heading further towards an authoritarian dictatorship, one that thrives off of implementing these measures in the name of preserving democracy and for the good will of humanity. In reality, these measures are being taken, in my opinion, to establish more control over the citizenry as well as their thoughts.
So what can we do about it? Continue to share information, continue to use whatever means we have to do so, and most importantly, support independent media companies like us who are experiencing censorship first hand.