Nina Jankowicz, the disgraced former director of the now-defunct Department of Homeland Security’s Disinformation Governance Board, said the board could have helped prevent mass shootings such as this week’s tragic school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.
A primary focus of the board was to standardize the government’s response to violent threats in the United States. Jankowicz told NPR’s Terry Gross on Thursday when she appeared on his program that this mission would have covered mass shootings.
“Disinformation plays a role in radicalizing people to violence,” the former director said. “You know, we’re seeing continued mass shootings here in the United States, and in many of those cases, violent extremism is begotten by things people see on the internet. So that’s the sort of thing that we would be looking to address.”
Jankowicz noted that information on the Texas shooter’s online presence is still being investigated.
The shooter posted on social media about his attack mere minutes before carrying out the massacre that killed 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas.
Jankowicz further noted that the board would have also been effective in stopping the mass shooter in Buffalo earlier this month. The shooter, who killed ten people in a supermarket, left a manifesto discussing the “Great Replacement,” a fringe white supremacist theory that certain elites are banding together to replace white people.
The board was just announced in April. However, according to Jankowicz, it has been a victim of disinformation, leading to its demise.
She noted on NPR that the public “made assumptions about the board” and her role as its leader. She said that DHS did not provide clear information regarding the board’s purpose and mission.
“Addressing disinformation, more broadly, really isn’t about labeling or censoring individual facts, which is what the narrative about the board was. You know, I’ve spent a lot of my career talking about how we can’t just play what I call ‘whack-a-troll’ to get out of our disinformation crisis,” Jankowicz said Thursday.
“We can’t just fact-check our way out of the crisis of truth… I would have never taken a job that was all about that. It was about something much more anodyne, much more boring,” she concluded.
Less than a month after its initial announced existence, DHS suspended the board pending a review from an advisory council. Jankowicz then stepped down amid public pressure.