Closed Silicon Valley summit addresses ‘election protection’ weeks before midterms

by WorldTribune Staff, August 24, 2018

A dozen of the largest U.S. tech companies sent representatives to a private meeting on Aug. 24 to discuss how to handle warring political digital media strategies ahead of the 2018 midterms.

Rooftop garden at Twitter’s San Francisco offices where the summit was held.

Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, Nathaniel Gleicher, invited the companies, which include Google, Microsoft, and Snapchat, to gather at Twitter’s headquarters in downtown San Francisco, according to an email obtained by BuzzFeed News.

“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.

Facebook and Twitter in particular were highly criticized for what many observers said was their slow reaction to attempts by foreign intelligence and affiliated operations to use their platforms to meddle in the 2016 election.

Social media companies have also come under heavy criticism after several reports of their censorship of conservative voices.

President Donald Trump tweeted: “Social Media Giants are silencing millions of people. Can’t do this even if it means we must continue to hear Fake News like CNN, whose ratings have suffered gravely. People have to figure out what is real, and what is not, without censorship!”

According to an Aug. 23 report by PJ Media, the censorship continues as “Multiple posts sharing articles by prominent conservatives have been temporarily censored on Facebook under the excuse that they ‘look like spam.’ ”

The report cited articles which argue that the Paul Manafort conviction and the Michael Cohen guilty plea are not nearly as damning to Trump as the major media proclaims.

Facebook blocked Salena Zito, CNN contributor and author of the book “The Great Revolt: Inside the Populist Coalition Reshaping American Politics”, the report said, after she posted a New York Post article explaining “why Trump’s supporters won’t care about Cohen and Manafort’s convictions.”

The article was posted on Aug. 22. On Aug. 23, Zito tweeted: “So this is interesting… [Facebook] took down my post of my reporting for the [New York Post] – I’ve received nine separate messages from readers telling me the same thing has happened to them. ‘sup [Facebook]?”

“They did put the article back up,” Salena Zito told PJ Media. “They never responded to any of my inquiries.”

“After trying to contact them through several different ways, the story miraculously reappeared,” Zito told The Washington Times’s Larry O’Connor.

Facebook also targeted Jenna Lynn Ellis, a contributor to The Washington Examiner, director of public policy at the James Dobson Family Institute and author of “The Legal Basis for a Moral Constitution: A Guide for Christians to Understand America’s Constitutional Crisis”, according to the PJ Media report.

Ellis published an article in The Washington Examiner explaining why “Democrats are overreacting to the Michael Cohen guilty plea.” She argued that plea bargains are a legal fiction, are not confessions, and are not evidence of crimes or verdicts of guilt. Therefore, the Cohen plea did not implicate Trump in financial crimes.

Ellis shared the article on Facebook, and a friend took a picture of Facebook removing the post. Again came the same message: “We removed this post because it looks like spam and doesn’t follow our Community Standards.”

Ellis told PJ Media that “Facebook has every right to suppress content as a private platform, but they have to do so openly in their terms and conditions, which should give every user clear notice of the agreement for use. If they want to be a liberally biased platform, do so openly so conservatives can determine if they want to use that platform.”

Instead, Facebook is “misrepresenting their user agreement and trying to benefit from conservatives adding to their user numbers to drive up value, but still censor selectively and against users’ reasonable expectations in signing up for the platform,” Ellis said.

The American Thinker’s Thomas Lifson reported that other conservative articles had been blocked as spam, as well.


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