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Mayorkas defends DHS efforts to address online “disinformation”

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In a hearing this week, Rep. Dan Bishop, R-N.C., asked the Homeland Security chief Alejandro Mayorkas about the recently published documents that alleged the Department of Homeland Security coordinated with social media companies to censor Americans.

Bishop honed in on one part of the document release that suggested the DHS flagged to Twitter an account it said had “imperiled election integrity,” even though it only had fewer than 60 followers.
Bishop asked: “Secretary Mayorkas, does the level of interaction with social media platforms, and that one specifically, that anecdote, suggest that DHS has engaged in egregious overreach that threatens the First Amendment?”

Mayorkas said that the overstepping of the DHS related to Twitter happened before the Biden administration took office.

“Let me assure you that our work to address disinformation—which is a tool that our nation-state adversaries seek to employ to sow discord in this country—is something that is very, very respectful of the civil rights and civil liberties of individuals, as well as their privacy rights,” Mayorkas said.

Bishop asked if the DHS was conducting “censorship by proxy as a means of evading the First Amendment.”

“We absolutely do not,” Mayorkas answered.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), even after being forced to disband the Disinformation Governance Board (DGB), has been accused of still trying to control what people see and say online. The Intercept claimed that the DHS is allowing government officials to access a portal that allows the flagging of Facebook posts for censorship.

Leaked documents obtained by The Intercept contain a URL to the portal and instructions on how to use it.

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