SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook Inc. and Google Inc. executives met with U.S. intelligence officials on Wednesday to discuss the technology industry’s security efforts leading up to the 2020 U.S. presidential election, according to a person familiar with the talks.
The gathering, which took place at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., included staff members from the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said the person, who asked not to be named because the talks haven’t been publicly disclosed. Representatives from Twitter Inc. and Microsoft Corp. were also in attendance.
The full-day meetings were arranged to discuss how tech companies like Facebook are preparing for election-related security issues, including government-backed online disinformation campaigns similar to the one Russia orchestrated ahead of the 2016 U.S. election.
Attendees also were to discuss plans for better coordination of security efforts between tech companies and government agencies — something that didn’t happen in 2016. Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, led the meeting, according to a person familiar.
Facebook has been heavily criticized for unwittingly propagating past disinformation campaigns, and it has also been the most vocal about changes it’s making to protect its network around elections. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg has said repeatedly that security is a top priority at the social network, and Facebook has hired thousands of content reviewers and security-related personnel to better monitor its service. Ahead of the 2018 U.S. midterm elections, Facebook also created a “war room” at its headquarters to more quickly respond to issues in the weeks leading up to election day.
Facebook and other tech companies also have added more restrictions around political advertising after foreign agents used their platforms to buy ads in 2016. Facebook now requires verification and documentation from political advertisers, and launched a public database of all the political ads it runs. Twitter and Google have also added an application process for political advertisers.