4 votes

Leaked documents outline DHS’s plans to police disinformation


  1. nacho
    This highlights one of the main issues with US government in various forms today: One party has systematically set out to make government ineffective and dysfunctional. That party is succeeding....

    The Biden administration, however, did take a stab at making part of this infrastructure public in April 2022, with the announcement of the Disinformation Governance Board. The exact functions of the board, and how it would accomplish its goal of defining and combating MDM, were never made clear.

    The board faced immediate backlash across the political spectrum. “Who among us thinks the government should add to its work list the job of determining what is true and what is disinformation? And who thinks the government is capable of telling the truth?” wrote Politico media critic Jack Shafer. “Our government produces lies and disinformation at industrial scale and always has. It overclassifies vital information to block its own citizens from becoming any the wiser. It pays thousands of press aides to play hide the salami with facts.”

    This highlights one of the main issues with US government in various forms today:

    • One party has systematically set out to make government ineffective and dysfunctional.
    • That party is succeeding. The worse government works, the less reason to trust it, even though that's intentional.
    • The resulting lack of trust in government means that US society is ripe for others to make power plays
    • This increasing trust-deficit reinforces itself which means state actors and powerful multinationals can get outsized influence by systematically influencing the public.
    • This creates a feedback loop gradually snowballing alternate narratives, apathy and a belief that government can't help anyway.
    • The loop leads to even less trust in and a more dysfunctional government on all levels.
    • The public's tools for dealing with the situation and the safety net for resisting hybrid operations for manipulating the US democracy are greatly reduced by the systematic attempts to lower public trust in government.

    Among Western democracies, I'm staring to think the US is uniquely positioned in how weak it is in deflecting populist anti-government attempts to weaken the country. The process has been going on for at least a couple of decades already. The rest of the west is seemingly following suit to some extent, but the belief that government is out to get you and not a reflection of the votes of the people is a huge issue that will take a really long time to reestablish.

    Jack Shafer puts these concerns well in the above quote.

    But at the end of the day, it's supremely obvious that of course government in a functional trust-based democracy should be pointing out obvious falsehoods, misinformation and lies. That's one of its primary tasks in providing national security and protecting from influence operations!

    The basis is that the government has to tell the truth. That starts with a society that holds its politicians to that standard.

    If these two premises aren't recognized and present, we enter the whole "alternate facts" world where people don't agree on basic reality. That's a sign of a conspiracy-based society where evidence is less important. That's dangerous, but has been a US tradition since before the founding fathers to a greater extent than in many other Western cultures. Both on the left, right and center of the political spectrum.

    This is not a happy picture. I'm not hopeful that one can break the negatively self-reinforcing spiral for many years. That's if the work is put in. Being defeatist like this isn't constructive either because that feeds the apathy and strengthens the spiral.

    It's disheartening that the basic stance is that government isn't by us and for us. Society is colder, less united and more self-centered for it. Everyone feels the need to look out for themselves at the expense of others. A lack of pervasive trust throughout society comes with high prices.

    (End rant)

    13 votes