Mary Margaret Olohan
Experts have recommended that President Joe Biden appoint a “reality czar” to “tackle disinformation,” the New York Times reported Tuesday.
Technology columnist Kevin Roose’s piece examines how to combat disinformation in media, citing QAnon group chats, OAN reporting, and “YouTube videos alleging that the inauguration was a prerecorded hoax that had been filmed on a Hollywood soundstage.”
“Several experts I spoke with recommended that the Biden administration put together a cross-agency task force to tackle disinformation and domestic extremism, which would be led by something like a ‘reality czar,’” Roose wrote. “It sounds a little dystopian, I’ll grant. But let’s hear them out.”
The New York Times has amplified claims by “experts” who are calling for Joe Biden to appoint a “reality czar,” prompting critics to compare the idea to the Ministry of Truth in George Orwell’s 1984. https://t.co/7tT9fdvdvh
— Paul Joseph Watson (@PrisonPlanet) February 2, 2021
Government responses to domestic extremism and disinformation are spread across numerous agencies and create a lot of unnecessary overlap, experts reportedly told the Times. This overlap results in misinformation about prominent issues such as COVID-19 and election fraud, Stanford disinformation researcher Renée DiResta said.
Diresta suggested that a “centralized task force could coordinate a single, strategic response,” Roose reported.
“If each of them are doing it distinctly and independently, you run the risk of missing connections, both in terms of the content and in terms of the tactics that are used to execute on the campaigns,” DiResta told the Times.
DiResta suggested that such a task force could meet with tech platforms and help these platforms tackle issues with extremism and misinformation.
NYTimes suggests the Biden administration needs to appoint a “reality czar” to deal with misinformation and extremism. https://t.co/jVNWNJ3e1C
— Seth Fiegerman (@sfiegerman) February 2, 2021
“For example, it could formulate ‘safe harbor’ exemptions that would allow platforms to share data about QAnon and other conspiracy theory communities with researchers and government agencies without running afoul of privacy laws,” Roose wrote. “And it could become the tip of the spear for the federal government’s response to the reality crisis.”
Corporate media figures and outlets have previously suggested that Biden should also take an aggressive approach in combatting conservative media when he becomes President of the United States. Other media figures and Democrats have called for lists to be made of Trump’s supporters, suggesting that these lists will be used in the future to hold the president’s supporters accountable.
Biden’s advisors are also reportedly pushing him to create a post in the White House specifically to target and combat “ideologically inspired violent extremists.”
Harvard University Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy’s research director Joan Donovan also suggested to the Times that Biden should set up a “truth commission” to investigate how the Capitol Riot was planned and executed.
“There must be accountability for these actions,” Dr. Donovan said, the Times reported. “My fear is that we will get distracted as a society and focus too much on giving voice to the fringe groups that came out in droves for Trump.”
She also recommended the Biden administration require social media platforms to show more transparency into the inner workings of their black-box algorithms used to recommend content to users,
“We must open the hood on social media so that civil rights lawyers and real watchdog organizations can investigate human rights abuses enabled or amplified by technology,” Donovan told the Times.
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