The US Department of Homeland Security has paused its new disinformation governance board and its director will resign after weeks of criticism from Republicans and questions about whether the board would impinge on free speech rights.
While the board was not formally shuttered, it will be reviewed by members of a DHS advisory council that is expected to make recommendations in 75 days.
Nina Jankowicz, picked to lead the board, wrote in her resignation letter that the board's future was "uncertain".
Federal and state agencies treat disinformation as a national security threat.
But the new board was hampered from the start by questions about its purpose and an uneven rollout that further confused its mission.
The phrase "Ministry of Truth" - a reference to George Orwell's 1984 - has repeatedly trended online in discussions about the board.
Conservative pundits have often focused directly on Jankowicz, a researcher on Russian disinformation named to lead the board.
Critics have pointed to statements made by Jankowicz that questioned the provenance of a laptop said to belong to Hunter Biden, the president's eldest son, and replayed a TikTok video she taped about disinformation to the tune of a song from Mary Poppins.
DHS officials have described the board as an internal working group intended to study definitions of disinformation across the department.
They have not explained why they chose Jankowicz, who is not a lawyer and had a well-known public profile.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced the creation of the board in late April, saying it would highlight Russian disinformation and false claims that encourage people to migrate to the US-Mexico border.
The board was immediately controversial, with Republican lawmakers questioning whether President Joe Biden's administration was trying to police narratives it opposed.
The top Republicans on two key congressional oversight committees said they had a "complete lack of information about this new initiative".
And Mayorkas was attacked repeatedly over the board in recent appearances on Capitol Hill.
Senator Mitt Romney, a Utah Republican, told Mayorkas the board was a "terrible idea" that "communicates to the world that we're going to be spreading propaganda in our own country".
Australian Associated Press
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.