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Former Head of Disinformation Governance Board Claims That The Government Flagging Content Has “Nothing To Do With Censorship”

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Last week, in a significant victory for free speech, a federal court stepped in to curb potential overreach by the Biden administration in its collaboration with social media platforms to suppress online content. The court ruling, issued by US District Judge Terry Doughty of Louisiana on Tuesday caused critics to complain that it hinders the administration’s efforts to counter online conspiracy theories and “disinformation.”

But in the usual doublespeak in an interview with MSNBC, the former head of the government’s controversial Disinformation Governance Board Nina Jankowicz claims that the government flagging content that goes against Big Tech’s policies has “nothing to do with censorship” and “is not about removing speech.”

“This is a weaponization of the court system. It is an intentional and purposeful move to disrupt the work that needs to be done ahead of the 2024 election, and it’s really chilling,” she said to the Guardian.

The ruling inhibits key federal agencies and officials from intervening in the content posted on tech platforms. It has been suggested that without such a check in place, the government’s efforts could easily spill over into manipulating public discourse and controlling information, with potentially dangerous effects on free speech and political balance.

The injunction comes as conservative leaders and groups have been vocal in their opposition, accusing the Biden administration of collusion with social media companies in an attempt to suppress conservative viewpoints.

Judge Doughty supported the arguments of Republican attorneys general from Louisiana and Missouri who filed the lawsuit. They contend that the Biden administration’s tactics infringe on First Amendment rights to free speech. He expressed the sentiment that the government seemed to be exploiting its power to stifle opposing voices, and he ominously compared the handling of social media content by the administration during the COVID pandemic to the “Orwellian Ministry of Truth.”

Nina Jankowicz, a former government appointee to lead a new Department of Homeland Security unit aimed at countering online misinformation, has defended the government’s actions, insisting that they do not amount to censorship. However, critics might question her impartiality, considering she was initially named as a defendant in the case but was later removed due to no longer holding a governmental role.

Adding to the controversy, this unit was swiftly disbanded after facing intense criticism from conservatives who claimed it was stifling conservative speech. This has led some to question whether the government’s efforts to fight misinformation are truly unbiased or, as many suspect, are a veiled attempt to suppress dissenting opinions.

The ruling, which temporarily bars several agencies and officials from pressuring social media companies to remove or delete “protected free speech,” sends a strong message that government interference in the digital public square must be carefully scrutinized. This order stands as an affirmation of the fundamental right to free speech.

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