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White House Asks Silicon Valley for Help Fighting Terrorism

Officials met with Silicon Valley representatives to talk about combating extremism online.

Samir Jana/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

The White House announced the formation of a task force to combat violent extremism, in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino.

The task force will bring together resources from across the government to strengthen efforts to prevent extremists from radicalizing and mobilizing recruits in the United States. The group, formed under the auspices of the Department of Homeland Security, will include representatives of the Justice department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Counterterrorism Center.

“The horrific attacks in Paris and San Bernardino this winter underscored the need for the United States and our partners in the international community and the private sector to deny violent extremists like ISIL fertile recruitment ground,” said National Security Council spokesperson Ned Price.

The development comes as senior Obama officials met with Silicon Valley executives in San Jose Friday morning to discuss how the private and public sectors can work together to counter messages of violent extremism online. Militant groups have been exploiting popular social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to disseminate propaganda and incite fear.

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, counter terrorism and Homeland Security adviser Lisa Monaco and Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith met with representatives from Apple, Facebook and Twitter, sources confirm.

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook was expected to be among those attending.

In a briefing document furnished to participants, the White House outlined the need for credible voices to speak out online against the Islamic State and terrorism more broadly online. It notes there’s a shortage of compelling content — and it’s often not as slickly produced or effectively distributed as the recruitment materials from ISIS.

“Many of the leading and credible voices that might counter ISIL lack the content-generation and social media prowess that would be required to counter ISIL online,” according to the document obtained by Re/code.

The White House is particularly concerned with reaching disaffected young people, who might be vulnerable to ISIS’s recruitment efforts. Re/code recently wrote about one such initiative involving Facebook, in which college students create anti-terrorism campaigns to share on sites like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

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