Former DHS official: Right ‘recognizes’ disinformation ‘as a way to whip up people’

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A leading expert on disinformation on the internet and in media is arguing conservatives are using the proliferation of false or misleading claims to advance their political agendas.

Nina Jankowicz, who briefly chaired the Department of Homeland Security’s Disinformation Governance Board, said the U.S. is “in a really bleak situation” when it comes to the spreading of partisan or misleading information on social media and elsewhere on the internet.

That trend, she said, can come with severe national security ramifications.

“It’s hard to imagine how we get back from this, when this is how our elected representatives are behaving — when we can’t agree on, you know, what is the truth,” Jankowicz told the New York Times this week.

The American right specifically, Jankowicz claimed, is seizing on the increasingly hot political discourse online and the spread of misleading information.

“The right recognizes it is a way to whip up people in a furor,” Jankowicz said. “The problem is there are very real national security issues here, and not being able to talk about this in a mature way is a real disservice to the country.”

After the Department of Homeland Security announced the creation of the board, Republican elected officials and conservative pundits raised concerns about Jankowicz’s past criticism of former President Trump and other Republicans.

Some warned the board, which was established under the Biden administration in the spring, represented an Orwellian “ministry of truth” and an effort to suppress conservative thought.

Jankowicz faced a torrent of harassment online from critics after she was named to the post.

The agency put the board on pause in May, saying that while its work was “grossly and intentionally mischaracterized” by critics, the “false attacks have become a significant distraction.” Jankowicz also resigned from the board the same month.

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