The all-day meeting was held at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park and included security teams from the tech companies, as well as members of the FBI, the office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security.
Tech company representatives and government officials met to “better understand emerging threats and prepare for future elections,” Nathaniel Gleicher, head of Facebook cybersecurity policy, said in a statement.
The companies also discussed how to better share information and further strategic collaboration ahead of the November 2020 state, federal and presidential elections. “Improving election security and countering information operations are complex challenges that no organization can solve alone,” Gleicher said. A person briefed on the meeting, who declined to be identified for confidentiality reasons, told the New York Times that the companies’ CEOs didn’t attend the meeting.
Tech companies and the federal government have gone to greater lengths during the Wednesday meeting to cooperate on threat modelling, intelligence sharing and building stronger ties between the public and private sector agencies, said a person briefed on the meeting, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the information was confidential.
Facebook has previously tried to monitor and ward off what it believed were potential threats to elections in many countries beyond the United States, including Brazil, Mexico, Germany and France, in order to prevent “misuse” of its social platform. These latest actions led to a change in the rules regarding making information about who pays for ads more transparent. In addition, it has worked to distinguish between news stories and sponsored content. A special section has been set aside for ads run by publishers and promoting stories on elections, candidates and important national issues.
The office of the Director of National Intelligence and the FBI confirmed they attended the meeting, with an FBI official saying 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.”
A Twitter spokeswoman called the meeting “a joint effort in response to a shared threat, and we are committed to doing our part.” A spokeswoman for Microsoft confirmed the company participated in the meeting, as did a spokeswoman for Google.