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Tech Companies Are Fighting Election Interference on Their Own

Photo: Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images

Last month, the New York Times reports, tech companies met with representatives from the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI to discuss threats to election integrity this year. No tech company wants a repeat of the 2016 election, in which large platforms were shown to have done little or nothing to combat false information and foreign propaganda efforts. The meeting was held at Facebook’s headquarters and also featured people from Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Oath (formerly known as Yahoo), Snap, and Twitter.

The meeting, however cordial it was supposed to be, appears to have been frustratingly one-sided. The atmosphere was reportedly “tense” as the companies pressed the government for any information or assistance.

The tech companies shared details about disinformation campaigns they were witnessing on their platforms, but neither the F.B.I. nor the Department of Homeland Security was willing or able to share specific information about threats the tech companies should anticipate, the people said.

One attendee of the meeting said the encounter led the tech companies to believe they would be on their own to counter election interference.

The lack of any help from the intelligence community might not bode well, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the world. Facebook in particular has made a big show of stepping up its internal efforts to protect election integrity, and none of these other platforms want to get left behind.

Tech Companies Are Fighting Election Meddling on Their Own