“I do not think the government should be in that business,” she said in an appearance before the House Intelligence Committee.
Jankowicz, who has since advocated for a stronger government role in stopping “disinformation,” was questioned by Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT) who claimed that his experiences having a tyrannical childhood tLatin America made him “violently allergic” to governments who claim to regulate how information flows.
“We start going down that path, and we are not just ‘breaking democracy,' we are breaking classical, enlightened liberalism,” he added. He said the idea was “pretty lame” that the government seemed to be outsourcing its efforts to deal with disinformation to Silicon Valley tech companies.
Himes challenged Jankowicz: “I actually want to see the evidence that people are seeing this information, and are in a meaningful way, in a material way, dismantling our democracy through violence or through political organizations.”
He also pointed out that there were instances of Democrats employing “disinformation,” such as former President Barack Obama “that if they were looking to maintain their private insurance they could opt out. It turned out to be the case.” He also asked if firms that use social media ought to investigate the former president for breaking his pledge to voters.
Jankowicz said: “I totally understand your aversion to the idea that the government would fight back against disinformation, in fact — the use of that term has been basically the foundation to some very draconian fake news laws in places like Russia, or even Singapore. I do not think government should be in that business, either.”
As proof that disinformation could be a trigger for violence, she pointed to two well-known Democratic Party talking points. One of them was the alleged kidnapping plot against Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI). Jankowicz stated the social networks “played a huge role in allowing that group to organize.”
The trials of the suspected kidnappers resulted in two verdicts of acquittal and two hung juries in the month of March, and there was evidence of entrapment from the FBI. The then-candidate Joe Biden falsely blamed President Trump for the conspiracy, spreading misinformation that kidnappers were instigated by Trump to carry out an act of violence.
Jankowicz also made reference to claims from a British television station in which Cambridge Analytica used data to “selectively target black voters with voter suppression ads.” These were ads that were negative towards Hillary Clinton, allegedly designed to persuade the black population to stay home in the 2016 presidential election. But, Jankowicz did not actually mention the word “disinformation” in the ads.
Rep. Himes was not impressed by her answers in response to questions. “We've had misinformation and yellow journalism and terrible media and voter suppression forever,” Rep. Himes said.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas defended Jankowicz and the board on Sunday, stating that they will implement “best practices” from around the globe, and also instruct “operators” within the department who will be accountable for “executing” those policies in the field.