Jankowicz's new book, How to be a Woman Online, chronicles the abuse she and other women have received. She is at the center of a new controversy over her appointment to lead an advisory board at the Department of Homeland Security.

The creation of a board, announced last week, has turned into a partisan fight over what role the government should have in policing false, at times toxic, and even violent content online.

Republican lawmakers accused the Biden administration of creating aMinistry of Truth to police people's thoughts within hours of the announcement. The abbreviation for the new Disinformation Governance Board was only one letter off from the Soviet Union's security service, as noted by two professors in an opinion column.

Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, has found himself on the defensive. He told CNN that the new board was a small group, that it had no operational authority, and that it would not spy on Americans.

He said that the Department of Homeland Security doesn't monitor American citizens.

The furor over Mr. Mayorkas' reassurance did not go away. The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, said that the board represented a continuation of work that the department had begun in 2020.

Its focus is to coordinate the department's response to the potential impacts of disinformation threats, including foreign election influence, like Russia, in 2016 and again in 2020. Ms. Psaki didn't say how the department would define what constituted extremists online. She said the board would consider making public its findings, although a lot of the work is done by the Department of Homeland Security.

Many people criticized the board, accusing Ms. Jankowicz of being hostile to conservative viewpoints. They suggested that she would use a partisan logic to stifle speech.

Two ranking Republicans on the House committees on intelligence and homeland security cited recent comments she made about the laptops of Hunter Biden, the president's son.

In her book and in public statements, Ms. Jankowicz has suggested that condescending and misogynistic content online can lead to violence and other illegal acts. She cites research into the reactions that prominent women have faced.

Ms. Jankowicz wants social media companies and law enforcement agencies to take harsher action against online abuse. The government should not police online content because of the views of Mr. Musk, who wants to purchase the micro-blogging site to free its users from restrictions that violate freedom of speech.

I shudder to think about what would happen to the marginalized communities around the world if free speech absolutists were to take over more platforms.

Mr. Turner and Mr. Katko wrote a letter to Mr. Mayorkas about the portion of the quote that she used in her tweet. The note requested all documents and communications relating to the creation of the board and the appointment of Ms. Jankowicz as its executive director.

ImageAlejandro N. Mayorkas, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, at the White House in March last year.
Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, at the White House in March last year.Credit...Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times
Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, at the White House in March last year.

Two months ago, the board quietly began work, staffed by officials from other parts of the large department.

According to a statement released on Monday, the board would monitor the spread of information by foreign states such as Russia, China and Iran.

It is not the first time the Department of Homeland Security has identified a threat to the homeland. The department joined the F.B.I. in warning about the dangers of false information about the 2020 election and the Capitol riots.

Mr. Mayorkas defended Ms. Jankowicz, saying she was a renowned expert who was qualified to advise the department on security threats. He acknowledged that he mishandled the announcement of the board last week.

He told CNN that he thinks we could have done a better job of communicating what it does and does not do.

Ms. Jankowicz has been a commentator for a long time. She was a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington and worked for the National Democratic Institute, an affiliate of the National Endowment for Democracy that promotes democratic governance abroad.

She was an adviser to the Ukrainian government as a Fulbright fellow. Her book, How to Lose the Information War: Russia, Fake News and the Future of Conflict, focuses on Russia's weaponization of information. Governments were ill prepared to counteract misinformation.

The Wilson Center's website has a quote on her biography that shows the challenges for those who fight misinformation.

Disinformation is a democratic problem and it will take cooperation to defeat it.