New Jersey disinformation portal helps decipher fact from fiction

The state Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness has added monkeypox information to its disinformation portal – a webpage intended to correct false information seen in social media posts.

News 12 Staff

Sep 8, 2022, 10:56 PM

Updated 644 days ago

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The state Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness has added monkeypox information to its disinformation portal – a webpage intended to correct false information seen in social media posts.
The retired FBI agent who runs the program spoke with News 12 New Jersey on Thursday to discuss what his team decides is disinformation and what the office does about it when they do.
“We want to assist the public in identifying false and inaccurate information,” says Tom Hauck, director of Intelligence and Operations for the NJOHSP.
From Russia’s war with Ukraine to monkeypox to the 2020 election – Hauck says that false and misleading information is easy to find online.
The NJOHSP runs an online resource of factual information for New Jersey residents. But it also scans social media posts. Hauck says the team looks for, “information that will incite violence, there's a threat to life, calls to action, certainly a nexus to terrorism.”
Hauck says that his office could – but hasn’t yet – ask a social media company to take a post down it believes is spreading disinformation.
“I think if there's some real harm and we've done our due diligence and we've conducted our painstaking analysis and investigation,” Hauck says. “We could credibly say, yeah, this is disinformation and it's going to cause harm. I think it would be appropriate.”
The Murphy administration set up the disinformation portal in 2020 as COVID-19 hit and fostered disinformation and conspiracy theories.
“I think we have to keep our eyes on it, but right now I’m comfortable with what’s happening here in New Jersey,” says Democratic state Sen. Andrew Zwicker.
Zwicker has been an advocate for privacy rights.
“You can't scream fire in a movie theater, but that's easy. Now what we're talking about is this gray area and that's a lot harder to figure out,” Zwicker says.
Hauck says that people shouldn’t be worried about the NJOHSP going through their private accounts.
“We're not going through private accounts. It’s something that's put out in a public forum,” Hauck says.
The disinformation portal can be found on the state’s official website.


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