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Misinformation can be Deadly

Post # 249, Bob McKnight's Florida Commentary

The chances of anything Donald Trump says being truthfill is probably next to zero.

After a very contentious, but successful campaign for President in 2020, President Joe Biden concluded that the disinformation surrounding his race needed to be addressed. Although the need for government regulation was considered, Biden knew that freedom within social media was important to try to maintain.

In July of this year, Biden proposed creating with the Department of Homeland Security a Disinformation Board. It was made clear that the Board was not going to be an "all-purpose arbiter of truth in the public area." But rather it was charged with addressing public health emergencies, ethnic and racial divisions and even Democracy itself.

Critics sarcastically called the new proposed Director of the Board Nina Jankowicz "The Minister of Truth." It was pointed out that the initial staffing did not include conservative Republicans, but rather established Democrat commentators. It became the latest foil for the Right Wing Media. Even the left joined the criticism led by Protect Democracy, The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University in New York and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

As Congress began discussing the issues surrounding controlling or at least identifying misinformation, Elon Musk takeover of Twitter only compounded the task. Musk quickly re-inserted former President Donald Trump to Twitter along with a number of controversial commentators. Musk abandoned the idea of seeking the counsel of knowledgable experts without a known bias.

Businesses say they are forced now to create Misinformation Specialists within their companies to attempt to manage this emerging crisis. The threats for business are focused on

  • Conspiracy Theories

  • Misleading Manipulated Media

  • Hate Speech

  • Child Abuse

  • Fraud

  • Sexual Allegations

  • Racial Allegations

The results of misinformation have now grown to elaborate communications to counter and explain the truth. Because the vehicle for carrying the misinformation is typically the internet, the need for action is in seconds and not minutes. The ultimate threat of death is now real happening from racial misinformation in Ferguson, Missouri; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Buffalo, New York; among many others. Added to the misinformation is the outright lying that has come back in favor by our former President Donald Trump.

This is probably not a great time for cutting edge technology, the clergy, government, business, the political parties, and education to tackle the human problem of disseminating misinformation. But the threat of doing nothing could be the difference between life and death.



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