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DHS Puts Disinformation Governance Board on Pause

Nina Jankowicz, executive director of the board, also resigned from her position.

the seal of the department of homeland security
After backlash, the DHS put its disinformation board on hold.
Getty Images

The US Department of Homeland Security paused the newly minted Disinformation Governance Board less than a month after its formation. A review and assessment of the board will be conducted after it was "grossly and intentionally mischaracterized," the department said Wednesday. The pause was earlier reported The Washington Post

"[The board] was never about censorship or policing speech in any manner. It was designed to ensure we fulfill our mission to protect the homeland, while protecting core constitutional rights," said a DHS spokesperson. "However, false attacks have become a significant distraction from the department's vitally important work to combat disinformation that threatens the safety and security of the American people."

The DHS created the board in April to combat harmful misinformation, including disinformation from Russia which has been a major source of misinformation on social media. It also planned to investigate false claims made about immigration intended for migrants and abused by human traffickers. 

The board faced significant backlash with top Republicans on the House intelligence and homeland security committees reportedly alleging it would be "a political tool to be wielded by the party in control." A group of 20 attorneys general, led by Jason Miyares of Virginia, also reportedly called the board "Orwellian" and threatened legal action unless it was disbanded. 

Work from the board will be on hold for 75 days during the review, which will be conducted by former DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff and former US Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick. The focus will be on figuring out how the department can address disinformation and achieve great transparency, while increasing trust with the public, said the DHS.

In addition to the pause, Nina Jankowicz, the board's executive director, has resigned from the position. 

"It is deeply disappointing that mischaracterizations of the Board became a distraction from the Department's vital work, and indeed, along with recent events globally and nationally, embodies why it is necessary," said Jankowicz in a statement provided by the DHS. "I maintain my commitment to building awareness of disinformation's threats and trust the Department will do the same."