Millie Weaver: I'm Millie Weaver, and you're watching the Millennial Millie Show. We're here at Kent State University. Joe Biden has announced his attempt to cut down on misinformation or fake news by creating the Department of Homeland Security Disinformation Board. Many people have argued that this is just the Biden administration's attempts to stifle free speech. Let's see what the students at Kent State have to say.
Millie Weaver: What do you think about the spread of misinformation in fake news?
Unidentified Individual: It sucks.
Millie Weaver: Did you hear about the Biden administration's recently creating the Department of Homeland Security's disinformation board?
Unidentified Individual: No, I did not.
Millie Weaver: Okay. So he's created this disinformation board to essentially address misinformation and fake news out there on social media. What are your thoughts on this?
Unidentified Individual: It'd be interesting to see how they can control it. I mean.
Millie Weaver: Right. Some are dubbing it the Ministry of Truth, and they're worried that this is kind of verging into dangerous territory when it comes to the First Amendment. Do you think that it's okay for the government to be using Department of Homeland Security resources to go?
Unidentified Individual: No, I think that's ridiculous. I mean, it's one of those things you have to be a consumer, and you have to use your brain. I mean.
Unidentified Individual: I guess it's important to know where your news is coming from. I think knowing your sources is really important, mostly when it comes to misinformation; it can come from both sides. Unfortunately, I'm leaning more towards the Democrat side of things, but unfortunately, it can come from both. But that's all my feelings on that issue.
Millie Weaver: Okay. So recently, the Biden administration has announced that they're setting up the Department of Homeland Security disinformation. Board where they're going to essentially have a ministry of truth, where they're going to try to shut down disinformation or misinformation. What do you think about this?
Speaker3: I think that's really important. I think disinformation can come from both sources. I think the president has a lot of power to deal with this issue. I think it should not only be him, so it's good that he gives a board to do it as well as his own feedback. But I think it's important.
Millie Weaver: What do you think about what this could mean for free speech in the First Amendment? Do you think that this could get into a pretty scary area where we're, you know, shutting down the free speech rights of Americans?
Speaker3: I think free speech is an issue that a lot of people feel strongly about. I strongly feel about it. I think, yes, it's a sticky situation, but it's all sticky when it's disinformation at the beginning of it. I think disinformation is very impactful. Even if it's restricting our rights on free speech, disinformation is dangerous enough that I don't feel limited because I guess it just really depends on what the disinformation is.
Millie Weaver: So you believe in free speech, yet you also think that it's okay that it be limited if it's in the name of combating disinformation,
Unidentified Individual: Correct. Yeah, I think that would be my viewpoint.
Millie Weaver: Okay. So who gets to pick then? Who's on the board? And do you think that that could cause problems if there's bias within the members of the board?
Unidentified Individual: Of course, but there's bias in everything. I felt biased when you came up to me and talked to me randomly because I'm just playing my Pokemon game. But I think that's just a normal factor. I think we judge people just by looking at them. We don't mean to, and it's just the way we live our lives in this country. We just judge everybody. I think psychologically, and it's just human nature to do that. I don't think that we mean to or we mean to hurt people by doing it, but it's just something that we do.
Millie Weaver: Right. So who gets to say what information is considered misinformation and what is considered true if we all inherently have a bias, don't you think that could play out in what gets considered to be true and what gets considered to be misinformation?
Unidentified Individual: Of course. But I feel like that's the price we paid to handle that. I think misinformation can be from both sides and be from anybody, but it's just how we deal with that misinformation.
Millie Weaver: How would you feel if President Trump, when he was president, had set up a disinformation or fake news board and had his own Ministry of Truth and had his own board members that he appointed?
Unidentified Individual: I think that's how I would feel if Joe Biden did. I mean, I strongly am more favored on the Democrat side of things. But I think when it comes to misinformation, I think it's a bipartisan issue. I don't think all Democrats think right. I don't think all Republicans have the same mindset. I think it's just something that we're going to make mistakes, and we're going to think things are misinformation when it's not. We're going to think of things that are information that isn't misinformation. I just think it's a day-by-day bias or a day-by-day decision by people.
Millie Weaver: Do you think it's the government's place to be setting up disinformation governance boards to try to control what information is out there on social media?
Unidentified Individual: No, I do not. I do not think that. So information gets out. I think it's just there. It's going to stay there. The spread of misinformation is not right. And that's what I have to say about that.
Millie Weaver: You said it's not right.
Speaker4: Yeah, misinformation. I feel like misinformation can cause a lot more problems than good and a lot of situations.
Millie Weaver: Right. But do you think that it's the government's job to try to regulate the spread of information or what information is considered true, what is considered false?
Unidentified Individual: If the government is trying to stop misinformation, and do think that's good if they're doing that and that's good. But if they're putting out misinformation, then it's not right.
Millie Weaver: Okay. So you do think it's good that Joe Biden set up this ministry of truth essentially to try to combat disinformation?
Unidentified Individual: Yeah, I do think that's good.
Millie Weaver: What do you think about the course that past nations took, where they started policing the press, setting up politburos, and ways to essentially control the spread of information?
Speaker4: I guess that's good. What's a politburo?
Millie Weaver: A politburo is like a bureau that controls what is considered information that's okay to be talked about in the media or in the press. We also know that countries, fascist countries in the past have went after journalists speaking information against their dictators or their leaders. So do you think that this is something that could be abused?
Speaker4: Yeah, I think yeah.
Millie Weaver: So what do you think is more important? The government trying to be in control of what information is out there in the name of stopping disinformation or ensuring that Americans can openly engage in free speech.
Speaker4: I think the Americans being able to have free speech is more important there.
Millie Weaver: The Biden administration recently established this Department of Homeland Security Disinformation Board, where they appointed people to be the leaders of the board. And their goal is to tackle disinformation using the Department of Homeland Security's resources. Do you think that this could potentially violate American's First Amendment rights in any way?
Unidentified Individual: The idea of it sounds decent, but I don't know if it should be something the government's doing, but more of like the news businesses going through and checking out. Yeah, something like that.
Millie Weaver: Right. So in history, we've seen many instances where dictators or tyrannical governments would set up their own type of politburos or agencies that would regulate the press and regulate free speech. Do you think we're treading into dangerous territory?
Unidentified Individual: Um. Yeah. There's a possibility that this could get taken too far. Yeah.
Millie Weaver: How would you feel if, which I doubt he would have. But how would you feel if Donald Trump would have created his own Ministry of Truth or Disinformation Board?
Unidentified Individual: I know I would probably be against it.
Millie Weaver: So are you against Biden doing this then?
Unidentified Individual: I guess. I guess. Yeah.
Millie Weaver: Are you somebody who voted for Biden or supported Biden? Because I sense some hesitancy in your voice.
Unidentified Individual: I mean, yes, I voted for Biden, but I mean, I wasn't like 100% on him. I was just 100% against Trump. Yeah.
Millie Weaver: So are you happy with that decision, given the economy, the gas prices, the high food prices?
Unidentified Individual: Yeah. It was a lose-lose situation, probably. I feel like everything with the government right now might be a lose-lose situation just to one side or the other. There's like no middle ground right now, I feel.
Millie Weaver: Right. So what was the main thing you didn't like about Trump?
Unidentified Individual: Um. I don't know. It's like. There was all this... I don't know.
Millie Weaver: Was it his mean tweets?
Unidentified Individual: Probably, yeah.
Millie Weaver: Okay. So you think he was kind of mean, or you had mean tweets, but what about how he handled the economy? I mean, we had record low unemployment. Gas prices were a lot lower. The economy seemed to be doing better.
Speaker4: Honestly, I do not follow any of this stuff that much so. I'll just have to take your word because I haven't. I didn't realize it or any change.
Millie Weaver: Do you think that it's the government's place to be regulating or trying to control information or crackdown on information they deem as misinformation?
Unidentified Individual: It really just depends on what it regards. I guess.
Millie Weaver: Do you believe in free speech and the First Amendment?
Unidentified Individual: Yes, I do.
Millie Weaver: Okay. Does it say in the First Amendment that we should allow the government to set up a board that picks and chooses what press is allowed and what press isn't allowed?
Unidentified Individual: No, but misinformation does come from a lot of channels, and I feel like we should be regulating that a little bit just because a lot of people are misinformed on a lot of different topics, which creates just a divide between sides, especially regarding political parties. Like that divide is only growing because of misinformation from not just one side but both.
Millie Weaver: Okay, so you say we should be regulating misinformation. When I hear misinformation, essentially that speech, whether it's written or verbal, it's speech. So should we be regulating speech?
Unidentified Individual: No, not regulating speech. I regard misinformation as just things that aren't true that are being put out there. I guess into the internet and the world and everything. Like they might take and roll with it, even though it's not true, whether it be like a wrong statistic or something based on something. I just think that we should be more knowledgeable on the subject, or at least we should be able to have sources and figure out if this information is true or not. So maybe not to regulate it, but maybe we need more opportunities to see where the information came from and like how relevant it truly is.
Millie Weaver: So if there's speech that you feel is true, you think it should be free. If there's speech that you feel is false or disinformation, you think it should be regulated. How is that free speech?
Unidentified Individual: Well, it's not really just about the false. It's about false and not opinion. So like if you have an opinion on something and everything, all the power to you, go do that. But if it's legitimate, things that aren't true, I don't really know how to provide an example. But if numbers in something are just legitimately not true, and there are sources to prove that it isn't true, I don't think that should be reported on in a more national sense and everything. But that's regarding something more as statistics for crime or something like that basically, but based on opinion and everything, whether it be whatever opinion that you have that shouldn't be regulated based on free speech and the First Amendment and everything. It really just depends on whether or not something is true or not.
Millie Weaver: So who gets to decide what's considered true and false? Who would be these grand regulators that pick and choose which information is considered true and which is false?
Unidentified Individual: Well, honestly, I'm thinking of it more from a psychological perspective, just based on crime rates. Like I said before if the numbers are actually way higher than it's getting put out there, and everything, like the public, needs to know that, that is misinformation to me. So I just think that the people who should not really regulate it, but just fact check it, not just government officials, but maybe people who work for the government who are specifically used to fact check statistics and information so that no one is like, oh, this many people this happened to when it's like, no, that's not true.
Millie Weaver: So do you think that the American people are capable of just doing their own due diligence research, looking into things, I mean, using their own mind to figure out if information out there is true or false?
Unidentified Individual: Yes and no. And I say that not to be like Americans are stupid because they're not; Americans are not stupid at all. I'm an American, so I'm not stupid. I don't think. But, um. I say no because just like some of our school systems and policies and things like that, they really just don't teach you how to do that. Especially with high school and middle school and stuff. They just teach you about memorization and stuff and how to Google an article and write a paper on it. They don't really teach you about how you can look at that and research more into the subject rather than just looking at that one article. More conceptual skills like that are taught in upper-division education, like university and everything. But not everyone goes to university, and not everyone needs to. So I feel like it just needs to be like a more national thing to teach these skills.
Millie Weaver: Do you feel like at this university they're really teaching you guys about the Constitution and your rights and, more importantly, the First Amendment?
Unidentified Individual: I do, yes.
Millie Weaver: So you have learned a good bit about the First Amendment and freedom of the press and free speech. The original concept with free speech was that even if it's speech that we find abhorrent, hateful, or distasteful, we have to allow it to exist in order for all of our free speech rights to never be infringed. Do you think that that still holds true? Like, do you think that that is the way it should be? Or do you think that we should regulate hate speech or speech that we find distasteful?
Unidentified Individual: It depends on the hate speech. Like, if you're saying we shouldn't murder all homosexual people, that's not okay. But if you're against them due to God or your religious beliefs, I mean. I don't agree with that at all. That is homophobic and everything, which isn't really good. But we've had people come on campus who were like that. They were against abortion. I'm pro-abortion and everything. And people will just, like, gather and say their things and have their signs. And then Kent State students would just go, and they would just, like, talk to them and say their side and everything, whether it be the same side or not the same side. So I do feel like I've had a good experience with that. Also, we've received emails throughout the year, like, "Hey guys, since it's getting warmer..." from our president and everything, "Just remember, the right to protest peacefully. Right to freedom of speech." Because obviously, we're not going to go heckle the people who come to campus who don't have the same ideals as us.
Millie Weaver: So here's an example, speaking that you mentioned that you are pro-abortion, and you mentioned this instance where these other people came that were anti-abortion. Let's say that the people in power in government were very anti-abortion. They decided to deem any information that says that abortion is safe for women, which some could argue it's not safe for women, as misinformation. And they would shut down and regulate any press, any people, any people on social media that say that. Do you think that that's okay?
Unidentified Individual: No.
Millie Weaver: So you don't think that free speech should be regulated then by the government?
Unidentified Individual: No. I never said it should be regulated. I just think that we need...
Millie Weaver: Do you see the problem?
Unidentified Individual: Fact-checking. Not that stuff, just like statistical things. Like if statistical things are like being put out into the world, and they're literally just not true. What if someone just lied on something, but then the American Psychological Association if they come out saying, "No, we've done a lot of research on the subject. This is these are our findings..."
Millie Weaver: Well, currently, if an organization were to come out and lie about statistics or lie about information like that in order to essentially influence people or maybe influence them to buy something or support something, it might be construed as a fraud because you'd be defrauding the public. So we do have remedies in that way. We also have remedies where if somebody comes out and lies, they can be sued for slander, right? In a civil court, somebody comes out and lies about you. You can sue them for slander. Right. But as far as government regulating speech, I guess that's still the big question. Right.
Speaker3: I'm just not really sure. I'm not informed on the topic enough in order to answer this question and actually fully support my answer. So I'm not going to say yes or no. I just think on the statistical side because I really haven't done enough research in order to be able to have my stance on it. Obviously, I believe in freedom of speech and everything, but also, there are a bunch of other parameters, and I have ideas, opinions, and goals that are opposite of what some other people are. And I don't like when those other people are protesting their side because I'm like, no, I believe in this. This is something that I support and that all of my friends and family support. It affects all of us because I have a lot of family in the LGBTQ+.
Millie Weaver: So you don't like when those people are protesting, but you still think they should have a right to protest, right?
Speaker3: Yeah, they should. But I'm not going to give a whole stance on freedom of speech in general because there are so many different parameters. And I'm not educated enough on the subject to give a 100% answer because I'm not 100% on anything really.
Unidentified Individual: Well, I'm a journalism major, actually, so I just left a journalism class. I think disinformation and misinformation are all things that need to be addressed. They're all important.
Millie Weaver: So, did you hear about the Biden administration recently setting up their Department of Homeland Security disinformation board?
Unidentified Individual: I did not.
Millie Weaver: Okay. So some people are calling it the Ministry of Truth. Some people say that it is kind of going pretty close to passing a line of are we going to start impeding free speech and the First Amendment? What are your thoughts on the regulation of disinformation or misinformation and how that might impede on free speech?
Unidentified Individual: That's a tough boundary. What is it tomorrow is World Press Freedom Day? And I don't feel that infringements on the speech and freedom of the press. I don't agree with infringements in that way.
Unidentified Individual: People need to consider a little bit more about where they were receiving their news. So, of course, social media is so prominent that anything that is on there is considered news. I think there needs to be this research in media as far as media getting out into these local communities. I do know as a member of a national organization that they are looking to put these locally. I want to say I don't know how they've funded; these local small journalism projects in different neighborhoods in order to make sure that the news of what is going on in the communities is actually getting out there. I think that'll help. That's a process of saying, okay, well, these are the stories and the issues facing the communities.
Unidentified Individual: And then as far as like national issues and things like that, it's hard because of course you think about who's funding these operations, and we're hearing about like. What's his name? Elon Musk is purchasing Twitter and then maybe going into that monetization of the program or the platform and things like that. So I don't think there's anything that you can do because I don't think people are keeping their eyes on, you know, who's funding what and who is doing what in these organizations. And then even considering, like the issue with Sinclair Broadcasting a couple of years ago, when they were all reporting all of the same stories, just different anchors, and it was just all that, the same information, no one knows. I guess no one knows how these stations are funded. So I guess keeping an eye on that if you do care about how you are getting and getting your news, consider who is funding your news stations. Consider who's funding these platforms, and you'll be able to decipher what is true news and accurate news. And then also just not relying on social media apps as that first form of communication and newsgathering.
Millie Weaver: So what do you think about the Biden administration recently setting up their Department of Homeland Security disinformation board to combat disinformation? That's what they say. Many people are dubbing it as the Ministry of Truth. What are your thoughts on it?
Unidentified Individual: I actually didn't know it exists, but I do think that there's been a lot of stuff that has been going on politically that has masked other, larger issues that are going on. So, of course, I know that we're talking about that 33 million or billion that's going to Ukraine. And then just, you know, I guess from even what I'm learning in class, like freedom of information, what is it called? The Freedom of Information Act? And trying to get those reports and things.
Millie Weaver: So I guess the main topic that we're trying to discuss here is. Is it appropriate for the government to be setting up these now federally funded boards to regulate information or disinformation when it pertains to free speech? The freedom of the press? I mean, is this going to cause a violation of the First Amendment?
Unidentified Individual: I definitely think it does, because then once again, like I said, you consider all these other things that are going on. And by them being able to have these organizations in play, it goes ahead and determines what will be put out, what is considered disinformation from a government standpoint as well. So I think that's the tough thing when you think about it, is that what is the government trying to hide something, change something, and that's my bus, and I don't want to miss it. So thank you so much.
Millie Weaver: Thank you. All right. So I hope everyone got something out of these interviews we did here today. It seems like a lot of these college students, for the most part, say they believe in free speech in the First Amendment. But then, when it comes to regulating free speech through disinformation or misinformation regulation, that's when they seem to essentially get pretty lenient when it comes to supporting free speech as a whole. I'm Millie Weaver signing off.
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