Midterm Meddling: Tech Giants Gather to Discuss ‘Election Protection’ Strategy

The Masters of the Universe meet at Twitter HQ to discuss midterm elections
Justin Sullivan, Saul Loeb/AFP, Brendand Smialowski/AFP

Facebook is reportedly meeting with multiple other Silicon Valley Masters of the Universe Friday to discuss how to prevent the spread of “misinformation” across their platforms ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.

Business Insider reports that Silicon Valley tech giants including Facebook, Twitter, Google, Microsoft, and Snap will be holding a meeting at Twitter headquarters in San Francisco Friday to discuss the 2018 U.S. midterm elections. According to emails obtained by BuzzFeed News, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy Nathaniel Gleicher invited 12 representatives from the companies to the meeting.

“As I’ve mentioned to several of you over the last few weeks, we have been looking to schedule a follow-on discussion to our industry conversation about information operations, election protection, and the work we are all doing to tackle these challenges,” wrote Gleicher.

The meeting will be broken up into three parts according to Gleicher. Each company will present the efforts they have made so far in combating misinformation on their platform, then it will discuss the issues that its platform faces in fighting misinformation, and finally, the group will decide whether a meeting of each Silicon Valley tech firm should take place on a regular basis.

Similar meetings between tech firms have been held before, attended by Mike Burham of the FBI’s “foreign influence” taskforce and Christopher Krebs, an undersecretary at the Department of Homeland Security. The meeting reportedly left the U.S. government representatives quite frustrated as the tech firms shared little information with them.

Given recent reports about foreign influence campaigns across Facebook, one issue that tech firms are on high alert for foreign influence campaigns. A report from the New York Times recently revealed that multiple countries have allegedly been employing influence campaigns across Facebook to mislead users on some topics. The activity originated from Iran and Russia according to Facebook, while many previous influence campaigns attempted to target American users, the most recently discovered campaigns focused on users in Latin America, Britain and the Middle East.

Some of the influencing campaigns focused on American users but were not aimed at disrupting midterm elections in America, according to cybersecurity firm FireEye. According to the firm, operations “extend well beyond U.S. audiences and U.S. politics.” Following Facebook’s announcement, Twitter also revealed that it deleted 284 accounts believed to be linked to disinformation campaigns.

But not all targets of the Masters of the Universe are foreign influencing operations. Social media firms also came under fire recently after the recent purge of Alex Jones and Infowars accounts from almost all online platforms — most of the meeting’s attendees — including Facebook, YouTube, Apple podcasts, LinkedIn, Vimeo and Spotify over the course of a single day which led many to accuse the tech platforms of collusion in their simultaneous decisions to ban Jones.

Conservative non-profit group PragerU also recently appeared to be the latest victims of Facebook censorship, as many recent posts from the group’s Facebook paged suffered a 99.9999 percent drop in engagement based on Facebook’s own dashboard. The social media giant also pulled down two PragerU videos, which it labeled “hate speech.”

Facebook was also recently forced to reinstate the ad campaign of Republican congressional candidate Elizabeth Heng, who is running in California’s 16th congressional district seat, following Breitbart News’ report of her campaign video being blocked across Facebook’s ad platform. Heng initially revealed that the ad had been denied access to Facebook’s ad network for being “too shocking, disrespectful, or sensational” for including factual information about Cambodia under communism, which her family fled for America. The ad was also blocked on Twitter, which labeled the story of Heng’s family “obscene.”

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan_ or email him at lnolan@breitbart.com


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