Obama officials, tech firms to discuss terror threats on social media

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Top Obama administration officials will meet with Silicon Valley executives on Friday about ways to combat terrorists’ use of social media.

A number of technology companies, including Google and Twitter, confirmed the meeting, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal, to The Hill and said they will participate.

Facebook and Apple are also said to be attending. The Journal reported that invitations went out to more than a dozen companies.

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Government officials will press the tech companies on ways to amplify other voices to undercut messages from terrorists, like the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, according to one source. Encryption could be a secondary topic at the meeting as well, according to the Journal. 

According to the report, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, FBI Director James Comey, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and White House Chief of Staff Dennis McDonough will participate in the meeting. Sources said a number of others will attend, including National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers, Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken and White House Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith.

Most tech and social media companies already have policies to quickly remove violent or terror-related content when prompted, but they have resisted legislation that would mandate them to report terrorist activity on their platforms.

Increasing calls to crack down on terrorist activity on social media have come in the wake of a series of attacks in recent months, including one in Paris that left more than 100 dead and a December shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., that killed 14. 

The House in December passed legislation to press the Obama administration to articulate a broad strategy to thwart terrorists' use of social media.

The lower chamber approved the Combat Terrorist Use of Social Media Act last month, which would commission a number of reports on the subject and require Obama to follow through on a commitment to present a broad strategy. The bill would also put pressure on the Obama administration to work more closely with social media companies in the fight.