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Obama Urged Government Censorship Week Before DHS "Disinformation Governance Board" Launch


On April 27, 2022, the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it had created a “Disinformation Governance Board,” ostensibly to protect national security by fighting disinformation, misinformation, and malinformation on social media. Critics denounced it as a “Ministry of Truth” straight out of “1984” and alleged that it violated the First Amendment. In response, DHS “paused” the board three weeks later and officially disbanded it in August.

Less than a week earlier, on April 21, 2022, former U.S. President Barack Obama gave a speech at Stanford calling for government regulation of online speech using similar language to DHS. The speech was called “Disinformation is weakening democracy.” In his speech, Obama said, "regulation has to be part of the answer" and called for “a regulatory structure” that would require social media companies “to have to share that information with researchers and regulators who are charged with keeping the rest of us safe.” 

Obama did not specifically call for a “Disinformation Governance Board” and said, “I believe that in most instances, the answer to bad speech is good speech.”

But he also pointed as a model to the European Union's Digital Services Act, which is overseen by a board similar to the DHS “Disinformation Governance Board.” 

And Obama endorsed the “Platform Accountability and Transparency Act,” which would create a regulatory body to give NSF-certified researchers access to the data and thus unique insider legal, institutional, and political power to demand censorship by the platforms.

As such, Obama’s speech appears to be part of a coordinated "information operation" involving the White House, DHS, the Stanford Internet Observatory, and others who were behind the “Disinformation Governance Board.”

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Michael Shellenberger
Leighton Woodhouse