Google, Facebook and Others Form Tech Coalition to Secure U.S. Election

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SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook, Google and other major tech companies said on Wednesday that they were forming a coalition to promote discussions with government agencies to secure the November election.

The group, which is part of an effort to prevent the kind of online meddling and foreign interference that sullied the 2016 presidential election, plans to serve as a clearinghouse for data about disinformation campaigns. Among the other participants are Twitter and Microsoft, and the companies will meet with representatives from the F.B.I., the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security.

The coalition grew out of discussions that have occurred between the tech companies and the government agencies over the past four years. While some of the companies have made a practice of sharing leads about disinformation campaigns and other election threats, the efforts have been haphazard.

“In preparation for the upcoming election, we regularly meet to discuss trends with U.S. government agencies tasked with protecting the integrity of the election,” a spokesman for the group said in a statement. “For the past several years, we have worked closely to counter information operations across our platforms.”

The group formed from meetings that began between the tech companies and government agencies last fall. The companies have since taken action to ward off threats in elections around the world. Facebook, for instance, has monitored election behavior in Brazil, Mexico, Germany and France. Last year, the social network said it was strengthening how it verified which groups and people placed political advertising on its site.

On Wednesday, the group held another meeting with the agencies, updating one another on the behavior and illicit activities the companies were seeing on their platforms.

“We discussed preparations for the upcoming conventions and scenario planning related to election results,” the group’s spokesman said. “We will continue to stay vigilant on these issues and meet regularly ahead of the November election.”

Beyond Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter, the group has expanded to involve LinkedIn, Pinterest, Reddit, Verizon Media and the Wikimedia Foundation. The government participants also include the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the Department of Justice’s National Security Division.

Several social media companies have reported an increase in disinformation efforts as the election approaches. Last month, Twitter removed thousands of accounts that promoted the QAnon conspiracy theory. This week, NBC News reported that millions of QAnon conspiracy theory adherents were hidden in private groups and pages throughout Facebook.

The efficacy of the coalition remains unclear. While the group will discuss active threats, it is still the responsibility of each company to mitigate election interference on its platform.

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