The Disinformation Governance Board has received the final nail in its coffin.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced that he’d formally terminated the short-lived entity in a Wednesday statement.
Mayorkas cited advice from the Homeland Security Advisory Commission in his decision to bring the board to an end.
“The Department welcomes the recommendations of the Homeland Security Advisory Council, which has concluded that countering disinformation that threatens the homeland, and providing the public with accurate information in response, is critical to fulfilling the Department’s missions.”
“We thank the Subcommittee for its work, which required extensive fact gathering and analysis over a short period of time,” the statement said.
“In accordance with the HSAC’s prior recommendation, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas has terminated the Disinformation Governance Board and rescinded its charter effective today, Aug. 24, 2022.”
The Homeland Security Advisory Council released a Wednesday report explaining why it decided to recommend the Disinformation Governance Board’s termination.
“The Department of Homeland Security does not have a broad remit to address all inaccurate information or disinformation, nor does it have the authority to silence or sanction anyone’s speech,” the council said.
The council is instead recommending that relevant government agencies directly respond when they are made the target of alleged disinformation.
The Disinformation Governance Board was heavily criticized by civil liberties advocates during its short existence. Critics argued that the entity was an attempt to create state-sponsored truth police.
“It’s a scheme conjured up by Washington Democrats to grant themselves the authority to control free speech,” Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of the board, said, according to NBC News. Republicans introduced legislation to defund the board after its creation.
The appointment of a partisan left-wing activist as chair brought further scrutiny upon the board. Nina Jankowicz expressed her desire to forcibly “edit” the tweets of private citizens, bringing the board’s commitment to free speech into question.
Mayorkas had struggled to justify the board’s existence in Congressional testimony.
Federal officials had suggested the real purpose of the board was to counter Russian and Iranian propaganda, as well as disinformation spread by human smugglers in Latin America.
Jankowicz’s history of labeling American political speech “disinformation” complicated these claims.
The Biden administration “paused” the board in May, three weeks after its inception. Mayorkas’ statement ensures it won’t be resumed.
There are no indications that DHS plans to create a new entity focused on disinformation to replace the board, but the White House has created a Task Force to Address Online Harassment and Abuse.
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