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Tech firms, US officials talk US election protection at Facebook

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Facebook said technology firms and US officials met at its Silicon Valley headquarters on Wednesday to collaborate on protecting next year's presidential election from cyber threats.

[SAN FRANCISCO] Facebook said technology firms and US officials met at its Silicon Valley headquarters on Wednesday to collaborate on protecting next year's presidential election from cyber threats.

Google, Microsoft and Twitter were listed among the companies that met with representatives from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Homeland Security, and the office of the Director of National Intelligence at the social network's campus in the city of Menlo Park.

"The purpose was to build on previous discussions and further strengthen strategic collaboration regarding the security of the 2020 US state, federal, and presidential elections," Facebook head of cybersecurity policy Nathaniel Gleicher said of the gathering.

"Improving election security and countering information operations are complex challenges that no organisation can solve alone."

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Stealth campaigns linked to Russia that used online social networks and other platforms were tailored to sway voters ahead of the 2016 presidential election that put Donald Trump in the White House.

Facebook and other online platforms have been under pressure to better defend against manipulation aimed at influencing elections anywhere in the world.

Mr Gleicher said that people at the meeting discussed their work, potential threats, and ways to better coordinate defenses, particularly when it comes to sharing information.

"For Facebook, we've developed a comprehensive strategy to close previous vulnerabilities, while analyzing and getting ahead of new threats," Mr Gleicher said.

"Our work focuses on continuing to build smarter tools, greater transparency, and stronger partnerships."

The social network last month tightened rules for political ad spending in US elections, notably by requiring more information about who is paying for campaign messages.

The move was the latest by Facebook to crack down on efforts to deceive or manipulate users after the social network admitted lapses in the 2016 election.

While Facebook has already begun requiring political advertisers to provide identification to confirm who they are and where they are located, the new policy requires more information to show they are registered with the US government.

"People should know who is trying to influence their vote and advertisers shouldn't be able to cover up who is paying for ads," a Facebook blog post said.

Facebook added at the time that it would prohibit ads "that expressly discourage people in the US from voting," in response to recent civil rights audit.

AFP