Tech giants aim to coordinate fight on misinformation: report

Major tech firms were reportedly gathering at Twitter's San Francisco headquarters to discuss coordinating efforts to counter foreign misinformation campaigns

Major technology firms including Facebook, Google and Twitter were set to meet Friday as part of an effort to coordinate the battle against misinformation campaigns by foreign agents, a media report said.

The report by BuzzFeed based on a leaked email said the companies were set to meet at Twitter's headquarters in San Francisco.

Microsoft, Snapchat and other tech firms were expected to participate in the gathering called by Facebook cybersecurity head Nathaniel Gleicher.

"As I've mentioned to several of you over the last few weeks, we have been looking to schedule a follow-on discussion to our industry conversation about information operations, election protection, and the work we are all doing to tackle these challenges," Gleicher wrote, according to BuzzFeed.

Twitter declined to comment on the report. Facebook and Google did not immediately respond to an AFP query.

The news follows actions by Facebook, Twitter, Google and Microsoft blocking accounts from Russian and Iranian entities which the companies said were propagating misinformation aimed at disrupting the November US elections.

On Thursday, Google said that working with the cybersecurity firm FireEye, it linked the accounts to the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting as part of an effort dating to at least January 2017.

Earlier this week, Facebook announced it removed more than 650 pages, groups and accounts identified as "networks of accounts misleading people about what they were doing."

Separately, Twitter said it suspended 284 accounts "for engaging in coordinated manipulation," adding that "it appears many of these accounts originated from Iran.

Former Facebook security chief Alex Stamos said in a blog post Wednesday that gaping holes remain in online platforms and that not enough is being done to counter foreign interference ahead of the elections.

"The revelations are evidence that Russia has not been deterred and that Iran is following in its footsteps," Stamos wrote on the Lawfare blog.

"If the United States continues down this path, it risks allowing its elections to become the World Cup of information warfare, in which US adversaries and allies battle to impose their various interests on the American electorate."