Leaked documents revealed that Facebook is working with DHS to suppress the spread of misinformation.
Plans have been leaked regarding Facebook working with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for police misinformation on the platform.
Facebook and DHS join forces to fight misinformation
A series of leaked emails, documents and memos revealed that Facebook is working with DHS to tighten the reins on misinformation. Public documents from a Facebook lawsuit also shed light on this collaboration.
This project comes in the form of a portal, which DHS officials within the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) can use to interact with Facebook staff. When a DHS employee comes across a post that they consider misinformation, they can use the portal to notify Facebook of that post so it can be addressed accordingly.
In a tweet by investigative journalist Lee Fang, it was written that “topics like withdrawal from Afghanistan, origins of COVID, [and] information that undermines trust in financial institutions” was among the types of content targeted by this collaboration. Fang also wrote the groundbreaking story about this incident with The interception.
But Facebook isn’t the only platform focusing on misinformation. Fang also noted in his Twitter feed that the leaked documents revealed that “Twitter’s Vijaya Gadde…meets monthly with DHS to discuss censorship plans.”
Other big companies have also been found to have taken a stand on disinformation (or misinformation) in the past. This includes YouTube and Microsoft, which launched a Coalition Against Misinformation in 2021.
New DHS portal compared to failed Biden misinformation board
In early 2022, US President Joe Biden announced the creation of the Disinformation Governance Board in partnership with the DHS. But this new council received a lot of backlash from supporters on the right and left, who believed the government should have no say in what is right or wrong.
After just three weeks, the council went on hiatus and has since been disbanded. But it is now evident through the aforementioned leaked documents that the US government is still working behind the scenes with numerous social media platforms to expand its campaign against alleged misinformation.
The new DHS portal is still in question
DHS’s ongoing efforts to censor misinformation have raised questions among the public. The US government has yet to define what misinformation is, and the subjective element of this question can leave a lot of room for error.
The nature of this commitment is also questioned. In the aforementioned Twitter thread, Lee Fang asked “How does DHS justify its evolving mission from countering foreign terrorist groups to monitoring domestic ‘disinformation’ on social media?”. Fang goes on to remind readers that “the agency maintains that fake news is a source of radicalization and violence,” which appears to be playing into their progress toward tougher disinformation policing.
Disinformation policing will continue to be widely challenged
Regardless of the intent of DHS and collaborating social media platforms, the public continues to question and criticize this decision for all the trouble it may cause. Time will tell how this endeavor pans out and if it will truly benefit Facebook and Twitter users in the long run.