To Prepare for 2020 Election, Tech Companies Are Said to Meet With U.S. Officials

Facebook, Google, Twitter and Microsoft met with government officials in Silicon Valley on Wednesday to discuss and coordinate on how best to help secure the 2020 American presidential election, according to a person briefed on the event.

The daylong meeting, held at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., included security teams from the tech companies, as well as members of the F.B.I., the office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security, said the person, who declined to be identified because the information was confidential.

The meeting, which comes nearly 14 months ahead of Election Day, illustrates how tech companies are preparing for the 2020 presidential election after a troubled 2016 election in which Russian operatives used Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other platforms to spread disinformation and sow discord. Since then, many of the tech companies have been on the defensive. Some have said they can do better and have made internal changes to reduce disinformation and foreign interference.

In May 2018, for instance, many of the same tech companies met at Facebook headquarters to discuss ways they could collaborate before the midterm elections that year. Tech companies and the federal government have gone to greater lengths to cooperate on threat modeling, intelligence sharing and building stronger ties between the public and private sector agencies, said the person briefed on the meeting.

The companies have also tried other tactics to get a handle on how their platforms and products can be misused in elections. Last month, for example, Facebook said it was strengthening how it verified which groups and people place political advertising on its site. And Twitter said last month that it would ban state-backed media from promoting tweets on its service.

This is a developing story. It will be updated.