Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Government Comic Books Combat Election Disinformation | TOME


With the 2024 elections approaching, the Department of Homeland Security has introduced a unique tool in its fight against disinformation: comic books. The series, known as the “Resilience Series,” has drawn criticism from members of Congress who view it as a threat to the First Amendment. Despite the controversy, these comics aim to address foreign influence on American public opinion, as outlined in intelligence community assessments.

Critics, such as Rep. Dan Bishop and Sen. Rand Paul, have labeled the comics as “creepy” and a waste of taxpayer money. However, the impact of these comic books seems minimal, with limited engagement and reach among the public. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) produced two graphic novels, “Real Fake” and “Bug Bytes,” which tackle issues of election disinformation and Covid-19 misinformation, respectively.

The use of graphic novels as a medium to address disinformation is not new, given their popularity among younger audiences. Graphic novels have seen a significant increase in popularity, especially in school libraries, despite facing opposition from some who question their legitimacy as “real books.”

The creators of the Resilience Series, Clint Watts, and Farid Haque, aimed to educate readers about the dangers of disinformation through fictional stories inspired by real-world events. The series was intended to be an evergreen resource in the fight against disinformation, with a focus on engaging younger audiences.

While the comics have been discontinued, they raise important questions about the role of government agencies like the Department of Homeland Security in combating disinformation. The comics’ creators, including Clint Watts, a former FBI special agent, and Farid Haque, an education technology entrepreneur, brought their expertise to the project to address the growing threat of disinformation.

The proliferation of counter-disinformation efforts within the federal government has led to disjointed strategies and approaches. The Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general highlighted the lack of a unified strategy to address threats from disinformation campaigns effectively.

CISA’s mission has evolved over the years to include combating disinformation, reflecting the changing landscape of cybersecurity threats. The agency’s focus on cognitive infrastructure and resilience to misinformation underscores the importance of addressing disinformation as a critical infrastructure issue.

In conclusion, while the government-made comic books may have faced criticism and limited engagement, they shed light on the ongoing battle against disinformation. As technology continues to evolve, finding innovative ways to engage with audiences and combat misinformation remains a crucial challenge for government agencies like CISA.

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