White House officials are rolling into California today to meet Silicon Valley bigwigs for talks on how to stop extremist groups using social media to spread propaganda and attract new recruits.
Online outfits such as Twitter and YouTube – used widely by groups such as ISIS to disseminate propaganda and win new followers – will likely be the main focus of the talks, with attendees expected to consider ways of making it more difficult for militants to use the Internet to further their causes.
The discussions will also look at ways of creating and disseminating online content capable of countering and diluting the efforts of extremists.
Besides Cook and co., the high-level meeting will include input from White House chief of staff Denis McDonough, presidential counterterrorism adviser Lisa Monaco, FBI Director James Comey, and National Intelligence director James Clapper, among others.
Reuters reports that these particular talks will concentrate primarily on social media rather than the thorny subject of encryption, an issue that tends to divide tech firms and lawmakers.
Following the devastating Paris attacks in November and the more recent San Benardino shootings in California, pressure has been increasing on tech companies to make greater efforts to deal with extremist groups using social media sites to communicate their ideology.
High-ranking French officials recently met with executives from leading U.S. tech firms for discussions similar to those being held today. While few details were released about the precise nature of the meeting, a release from the French government said all attendees had agreed to outline and apply “an offensive strategy of counter-discourse that will specifically target the online activities” of ISIS.
French officials also welcomed Facebook’s Safety Check feature, which offered an easy way for those in the French capital to let worried friends and family know they were safe on the night of the terror attack.
When it detects a violation of its policies or receives notification of banned activities taking place on its service, the offending account is blocked.
In March 2015, Twitter’s practice of blocking extremists’ accounts provoked threats from ISIS supporters toward Twitter co-founder and current CEO Jack Dorsey, as well as regular employees of the social media company.
Reuters said the U.S. government is likely to make a statement about the outcome of Friday’s Silicon Valley meeting following its conclusion.