Gov. Ron DeSantis decried the recently-formed Federal Bureau of Disinformation, which he referred to as the “Bureau of Disinformation,” during a press conference on Friday, claiming that the office will work to “silence those they disagree with” and “stifle dissent.”
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced that the department is forming a Disinformation Governance Board to enhance efforts to protect homeland and election security. The board will be led by Nina Jankowicz, a former disinformation scholarly fellow, and takes aim at disinformation targeted at migrants, a problem that is claimed to have helped fuel sudden surges at the U.S. southern border in recent years.
The board will additionally monitor Russian disinformation threats as the nation approaches its midterm election, according to their most recent statement.
While Biden has not directly spoken about the group’s formation, he campaigned in 2020 on the notion of cracking down on tech companies like Facebook and its subsidiaries over the promotion of misinformation and conspiracy theories that have become increasingly commonplace across the gamut of platforms.
“The spread of disinformation can affect border security, Americans’ safety during disasters, and public trust in our democratic institutions,” the department said in its statement.
Cat's out of the bag: here's what I've been up to the past two months, and why I've been a bit quiet on here.
— Nina Jankowicz 🇺🇦🇺🇸 (@wiczipedia) April 27, 2022
DeSantis expressed worries that the group would advocate for policy action like coronavirus lockdowns and school closures, stating that it would result in the forwarding of policy and mainstream thought that is “not supported by evidence.”
“We reject this bureau in the state of Florida,” said DeSantis. “We believe it is essential that individual Floridians and Americans are able to speak out against false narratives being jammed down our throats by this regime. They appointed someone to lead it who herself has been an advocate for COVID lockdowns, so this is not acceptable, and in Florida, we’re not going to have it.”
DeSantis went as far as comparing the group to the Ministry of Truth from George Orwell’s novel 1984, painting a picture of authoritarian control and public control of media and news narrative.
“This is not acceptable. Let’s start dealing with issues people actually care about,” said the governor. “When you’re not doing well there are two ways to do it: you could try to do better so people will like what you’re doing, or you could try to shut up everybody who is criticizing your bad policies. It seems they are doing the latter.”
DeSantis of late has taken an enhanced stance in support of free speech, going so far as inviting Elon Musk to relocate Twitter headquarters to Florida, publicly stating that the state, on behalf Florida Pension Board which owns shares of the social media platform, pressured Twitter’s board of directors to accept Musk’s $44 billion takeover of the company.
Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis chimed in once the deal went through, praising it as a win for free speech.
“This acquisition is both a win for free speech and a win for Florida’s pension system,” said Patronis. “With Elon now in full control of the company, I will continue my campaign of attracting Twitter to Florida. While I do believe Elon has the right intentions, he will be battling a culture that lives, works, and plays in San Francisco, which is the epicenter of wokeness, groupthink, and speech codes. With Elon at the helm, Florida and Twitter would be a match made in heaven.”