Big Tech, Government Meet to Discuss 2020 Elections
Government officials met with big tech companies on Wednesday, September 4, to to make plans for securing America’s 2020 elections. Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Twitter participated in the discussions, which were held at Facebook’s Menlo Park, California, offices in Silicon Valley. Government and corporate leaders talked turkey about strategies for preventing the kind of foreign interference that marred the 2016 elections.
Representing the Trump administration were members of the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
The companies are supposed to collaborate with the government and create a strategy before the November 2020 presidential, state, and federal elections, according to Facebook. Representatives from the tech companies talked about potential election interference, offering solutions on how to better detect threats and share information. Chief executives from these companies did not attend the meeting.
“Improving election security and countering information operations are complex challenges that no organization can solve alone,” said Nathaniel Gleicher, head of Facebook cybersecurity policy. “Today’s meeting builds on our continuing commitment to work with industry and government partners, as well as with civil society and security experts, to better understand emerging threats and prepare for future elections.”
The meeting happened almost 13 months before the Election Day, and it shows that the big tech companies are willing to help protect the elections. They are attempting to prepare for the 2020 race this time because in 2016, Russian operatives used Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and other platforms to spread disinformation and influence voters. After this happened, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Twitter came under scrutiny and were heavily criticized by the public and by legislators. Some of the companies have made internal changes in an attempt to reduce the odds of disinformation spreading through America and foreign interference influencing elections again.
The companies last met in May 2018 to discuss collaboration before midterm elections. They have cooperated with the federal government to tackle threat modeling, intelligence sharing, and building stronger ties between private-sector agencies and the public.
In addition, Facebook has attempted to monitor threats to elections in countries like Mexico, Germany, and France. The social network also said it’s trying to find a better way to verify people and groups who place political ads on the site. Last month, Twitter said it would prevent state-backed media from promoting tweets.
While the Department of Homeland Security declined comment on the meeting, the FBI and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence confirmed that they attended. An official from the FBI said the agency was invited by the tech companies to “discuss our shared goal of protecting democracy and securing the 2020 US state, federal, and presidential elections.”
Dipayan Ghosh, co-director of the Digital Platforms and Democracy Project at Harvard’s Kennedy School, said that the Congress “must continue to hold these companies accountable so that they keep the intelligence community informed of their plans.”
The 2016 election showed how easily social media and big tech platforms can be used to manipulate the public. Participants at the meeting agree that the problem is urgent and that it must be resolved before the next elections.
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