In its latest terrorism threat bulletin, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) labeled online “misinformation” a terror threat.
The bulletin warned about the “proliferation of false or misleading narratives, which sow discord or undermine public trust in U.S. government institutions.”
The DHS further stated that there was an “online environment filled with false or misleading narratives and conspiracy theories, and other forms of mis-, dis- and mal-information introduced and/or amplified by foreign and domestic threat actors.”
“These threat actors seek to exacerbate societal friction to sow discord and undermine public trust in government institutions to encourage unrest, which could potentially inspire acts of violence,” the bulletin stated.
According to the DHS, misinformation could result in “mass casualty attacks.”
It listed unsubstantiated claims about Covid and election fraud as the two main sources of misinformation.
“Grievances associated with these themes inspired violent extremist attacks during 2021,” the bulletin stated, but didn’t specify.
“COVID-19 mitigation measures—particularly COVID-19 vaccine and mask mandates—have been used by domestic violent extremists to justify violence since 2020 and could continue to inspire these extremists to target government, healthcare, and academic institutions that they associate with those measures,” the bulletin added.
The bulletin also said that the DHS will collaborate with “public and private sector partners, as well as foreign counterparts, to identify and evaluate [misinformation], including false or misleading narratives and conspiracy theories spread on social media and other online platforms that endorse or could inspire violence.”