Solarium Commission Makes Recommendations to Counter Disinformation

The Cyberspace Solarium Commission has added two new recommendations to its wide-ranging cybersecurity policy report to address the challenge of disinformation on social media.

In its recent white paper featuring new cyber-related recommendations and lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, the commission said it supports establishment of the Social Media Data and Threat Analysis Center (DTAC) funded by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). The center – intended to encourage public-private cooperation to detect and counter foreign influence operations against the United States – has already been authorized by the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, but has not yet been stood up.

A primary challenge to the center’s creation is a trust deficit between social media companies and Washington, said Robert Morgus, the commission’s director of research and analysis.

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“It’s critical that the U.S. help ensure that social media companies, other media outlets, civil society, and the general population are able to build the expertise and credibility necessary to sound the alarm on disinformation campaigns,” said Morgus, speaking at a June 3 online event hosted by the commission to highlight the group’s white paper.

 

The commission’s second recommendation to counter disinformation on social media involves congressional funding of nonprofit centers which would aim to identify, expose, and explain malign foreign influence campaigns to the American public.

“Push any and all capability you can, to identify and counter disinformation, out of government and into nonprofits,” Morgus said. “Democratic governments must continue to shun any inclination to become arbiters of truth.”

The recommendation tasks Congress with funding grants through the Department of Justice to existing nonprofits that seek to expose malign foreign influence. Morgus mentioned the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensics Research Lab and the Alliance for Securing Democracy, an initiative housed at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, as examples of existing organizations.

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