The Department of Homeland Security is intensifying its efforts to counter disinformation coming from Russia , as well as misinformation spread by human traffickers to catch migrants trying to cross the border from Mexico .
“The spread of disinformation can affect border security, the safety of Americans during disasters, and public confidence in our democratic institutions ,” the department said in a statement Wednesday. He declined an interview request from The Associated Press .
A new Disinformation Management Board announced Wednesday will initially focus on disinformation targeting migrants, which has fueled sudden waves of migrants at the southern border of the United States in recent years. Human traffickers often spread misinformation about immigration measures for their own business.
In September, confusion over President Joe Biden ‘s immigration policies combined with messages spread widely among the Haitian community via Facebook and WhatsApp prompted many migrants to camp in the border city of Del Rio, Texas. Several were expelled from the country by the authorities.
“We are very concerned that Haitians who take the path of irregular migration receive misinformation that the border is open ,” National Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said at the time.
The new board will also monitor and prepare for Russian disinformation threats as legislative elections near and the Kremlin continues its aggressive disinformation campaign surrounding the war in Ukraine. Russia has launched numerous disinformation campaigns targeting the American audience to sharpen election-time divisions and spread conspiracy theories around COVID-19 vaccines .
Recently, state media, social media accounts and officials have taken to the internet to claim that photos, videos and information about dead bodies and bombed buildings in Ukraine are false. The board will be led by expert Nina Jankowicz , who has researched Russian online harassment and disinformation tactics. Dozens of Republican lawmakers and commentators have criticized the new board and called for its dismantling.
“Instead of controlling our border, Homeland Security has decided to prioritize controlling American speech,” tweeted Sen. Josh Hawley . “They Create a Disinformation Board” .
The department said in its statement that the board will “protect privacy, civic rights and civil liberties” as part of its work.