July 20, 2024

Either way, Vinograd is in favor of enlisting “every American” to help out as well (although it is not clear in what specific way), invoking even the concept of patriotic duty.

A former Biden administration official has declared that disinformation around elections is “becoming the norm rather than the exception.”

Samantha Vinograd, until recently of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), also asserted that these days, because of what she considers to be election disinformation, “there is an unprecedented level of physical threats” while the US information ecosystem is “incredibly vulnerable.”

Dramatic and alarmist statements like this may be necessary to justify the rest of Vinograd’s message, which in effect attacks free speech, as it is legally protected in the US.

Appearing on CBS, Vinograd – who was until last December Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for Counterterrorism and Threat Prevention – warned that the First Amendment might protect free speech, but that engaging in free speech is apparently not “cost-free.”

The Face the Nation hosts framed the problem as, essentially, federal laws (the Constitution) protecting speech, but the damage being done at the state level – and then what states, who organize elections, can do to fix that “problem.”

Spreading lies about candidates, as they put it, was given as an example of legal, protected speech becoming an issue by having the ability to create “a threat at the state level” – and asked Vinograd who she thought was supposed to correct the situation.

Vinograd – who has been bouncing between various administrations (including those of Bush and Obama, and private companies like Goldman Sachs and Stripe before landing at Biden’s DHS) – seemed to suggest that Big Tech (i.e., social media companies) should be assisting the government.

The federal government said Vinograd, “should not be the omnipresent fact checker for the American people.”

And even though, according to her, the government is debunking information about elections that is deemed to be inaccurate, social media companies “should be thinking about what kinds of election disinformation violate their terms of service.”

It’s difficult not to take this as a not-so-veiled added pressure on social platforms to not only continue with censoring content but perhaps expand it in terms of what qualifies as election disinformation.

Either way, Vinograd is in favor of enlisting “every American” to help out as well (although it is not clear in what specific way), invoking even the concept of patriotic duty.

And Vinograd did not miss the opportunity to assert that election misinformation threats are now of such magnitude as to present a national security issue.

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