- The Washington Times - Friday, August 30, 2019

The chair of the Federal Election Commission has reportedly asked Facebook, Google and Twitter to meet next month to discuss countering online disinformation during the 2020 U.S. presidential race.

FEC Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub, a Democrat, invited the internet companies to send representatives to a daylong symposium scheduled for Sept. 17, Politico first reported.

“The goal of the symposium will be to identify effective policy approaches and practical tools that can minimize the disruption and confusion sown by fraudulent news and propaganda in the 2020 campaign,” said the invitation, according to the outlet.

Facebook and Twitter plan to participate, representatives for the companies told Politico. Google did not immediately return messages requesting comment.

The event is being co-hosted by Stanford University and PEN America, a nonprofit group focused on free expression issues, Politico reported. Thomas Melia, the Washington director at PEN America, confirmed the organization is planning the event but said details have not been finalized, CNET reported later.

With less than 15 months left in the White House race, the symposium has been scheduled amid ongoing concerns about online platforms operated by Facebook, Twitter, Google and others being weaponized like during the last U.S. presidential election.

Federal intelligence and law enforcement agencies have determined that paid Russian “internet trolls” attempted to interfere in the 2016 election by spreading politically charged disinformation and propaganda on social media platforms, and prosecutors have brought related criminal charges against more than a dozen individuals and entities sought responsible.

Several top senior administration officials have since warned that the 2020 race risks being similarly targeted.

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