- The Washington Times - Friday, January 8, 2016

Silicon Valley executives are slated to meet with senior Obama administration officials on Friday to discuss social media and its role in spreading the ideologies of terror groups such as the Islamic State.

Apple, Facebook and Twitter all said they planned on sending representatives to San Jose to speak with Attorney General Loretta Lynch, FBI Director James Comey, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper at a late-morning meeting expected to revolve around what actions the tech sector could take to curb extremism on the Internet.

Google, YouTube, Dropbox and Microsoft had reportedly been invited to the summit, but it wasn’t immediately clear if they planned on attending.

While previous conversations in recent months have concerned the use of unbreakable encryption among terrorists to communicate off the radar of authorities, the government’s so-called “going dark” problem will reportedly be put on the backburner at this week’s meeting in lieu of shifting focus toward social media — and more specifically the platform it has provided to individuals intent on inciting violence and identifying new recruits.

“The White House sees Silicon Valley as an integral part of fighting the propaganda from IS and other groups. There needs to be a concerted effort to fight IS propaganda,” a White House official told Buzzfeed News this week, using an acronym for the Islamic State terror group, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

Administration officials familiar with Friday’s meeting told USA Today reporters on condition of anonymity that the White House will press social media companies to not only make it more difficult for terrorists to use their platforms, but also consider ways of countering those messages with alternative content.

On Thursday this week, two suspected Islamic State supporters were arrested in California and Texas after authorities began scouring social media for terrorism-related activity. Rep. Ted Poe, Texas Republican, said last month that “nearly all” of the 71 people apprehended within the United States in recent months for ISIS-related crimes “spent hours online voicing their support for ISIS and later were arrested.”

Instead of having to go to Syria to train, all they have to do is log-on to get online training, Mr. Poe said during a House hearing.

The Senate and House have each since floated legislative proposals that would require social media companies to better monitor its services for suspicious activity.

Several firms, including Facebook and Twitter, have said their products should not be used as platforms for hate speech. With those bills in limbo, however, White House officials are expected to urge the tech sector at Friday’s meeting to “take a more proactive approach to countering terrorist messages and recruitment online,” the Wall Street Journal reported, citing administration sources.


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