WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) – The Department of Homeland Security is stepping up an effort to combat misinformation coming from Russia as well as human traffickers targeting migrants hoping to travel to the US-Mexico border. broadcast for.
“The spread of propaganda can affect border security, the safety of Americans during disasters, and the public’s confidence in our democratic institutions,” the department said in a statement on Wednesday. It declined the Associated Press’s request for an interview.
A newly formed Disinformation Governance Board announced Wednesday will immediately begin focusing on misinformation aimed at migrants, a problem that has helped fuel a sudden boom at the US southern border in recent years. Human traffickers often spread misinformation around border policies to promote trade.
For example, last September, confusion about President Joe Biden’s immigration policies, combined with widely shared messages in the Haitian community on Meta’s Facebook and WhatsApp platforms, combined with some of the 14,000 migrants in Del Rio, Was taken to the border town of Texas, where he set up camp. Some were eventually expelled and deported outside the US
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Meyerkas said at the time: “We are very concerned that Haitians taking the irregular migration route are receiving misinformation that the border is open.”
The new board will also monitor and prepare for Russian propaganda threats as this year’s midterm elections near and the Kremlin continues an aggressive propaganda campaign around the war in Ukraine. Russia has repeatedly launched a misinformation campaign aimed at spreading divisions around election time and conspiracy theories around US COVID-19 vaccines to American audiences. Recently, Russian state media outlets, social media accounts and officials have used the Internet to fake photos, reporting and videos of bodies and bombed buildings in Ukraine.
The board will be headed by propaganda expert Nina Jankowicz, who has researched Russian misinformation tactics and online harassment.
During the 2020 presidential campaign, Biden, a Democrat, repeatedly said he would push tech companies, including Facebook, to take strong action on the misinformation and conspiracy theories that have overwhelmed social media and its users.
Dozens of Republican lawmakers and pundits widely criticized the new board on social media on Wednesday and called for its dissolution.
A tweet by US Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri partially read, “Instead of police on our border, Homeland Security has decided to make the speech of Americans its top priority.” “They’re making a propaganda board.”
DHS said in its statement that the board will “protect privacy, civil rights and civil liberties” as part of its duties.