Plans have been leaked relating to Facebook’s collaboration with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to police disinformation on the platform.
Facebook and DHS Join Forces to Tackle Disinformation
An array of leaked emails, documents, and memos have revealed that Facebook is working with the DHS to tighten the reigns on disinformation. Public documents from a Facebook lawsuit also shone some 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 deem to be disinformation, they can use the portal to notify Facebook of this post so that it can be dealt with accordingly.
In a tweet by investigative journalist Lee Fang, it was written that “topics like withdrawal from Afghanistan, origins of COVID, [and] info that undermines trust in financial institutions” were among the kinds of content being targeted through this collaboration. Fang also authored the breakthrough story on this incident with The Intercept.
But Facebook isn’t the only platform focusing on disinformation. Fang also noted in his Twitter thread that the leaked documents revealed “Twitter’s Vijaya Gadde…met monthly with DHS to discuss censorship plans”.
Other major companies have also been found to have a stance on disinformation (or misinformation) in the past, such as Microsoft and YouTube.
New DHS Portal Is Likened to Biden’s Failed Disinformation Board
In early 2022, U.S President Joe Biden announced the creation of the “Disinformation Governance Board” in partnership with the DHS. But this new board received a lot of backlash from both right- and left-wing supporters, who thought that the government should not have a say in what is true or untrue.
After just three weeks, the board was paused and has since been disbanded. But it is now evident through the aforementioned leaked documents that the U.S government is still working behind the scenes with numerous social media platforms to develop its campaign against alleged disinformation.
New DHS Portal Is Still Under Question
The DHS’s continued effort to censor disinformation has aroused questions among the public. The U.S government has not yet defined what disinformation is, and the subjective element of this issue may leave a lot of room for mistakes.
The nature of this undertaking is also being called into question. In the aforementioned Twitter thread, Lee Fang asked “How does DHS justify its evolving mission from countering foreign terror groups to policing domestic “disinfo” on social media?”. Fang follows this up by reminding readers that “the agency argues false information is a source of radicalization & violence”, which seemingly plays into their stride towards tighter disinformation policing.
Disinformation Policing Will Continue to Be Widely Disputed
Regardless of the intent of the DHS and collaborating social media platforms, the public is continuing to question and criticize this decision for all the problems it may cause. Time will tell how this undertaking will play out, and whether it will truly benefit Facebook and Twitter users in the long term.