You probably had no idea, but representatives from Silicon Valley, Hollywood and the U.S. government came together earlier this week to privately discuss how they could jointly fight ISIS propaganda online. Never mind the fact that ISIS is the child of reckless and inhumane preemptive wars of aggression perpetrated by the U.S. government. Such introspection naturally never crosses the mind of government bureaucrats ostensibly attempting to understand the epic disasters they created in the first place.
So who attended the meeting? We don’t know for sure because the plebes aren’t entitled to know such things. Fortunately, we have become privy to some information thanks to Buzzfeed News. Here’s what we learned:
WASHINGTON, D.C. — They flew in from New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles to hole up in a windowless D.C. conference room for nearly five hours on Wednesday — representatives of the country’s top tech and entertainment companies brainstorming with U.S. counterterrorism officials to tackle one tough question: how to stop the spread of ISIS online.
The standoff between Apple and the FBI did not come up during the meeting, though the issues it involves are at the heart of the very things being discussed. As the role of technology in our lives continues its explosive growth, how will the balance between privacy and security play out in the new Silicon Valley-D.C. relationship?
Among the handful of Arab participants who took part in Wednesday’s event, the questions raised felt even greater.
“They wanted to figure out how to fight ISIS online, how to understand the psychology of those who support ISIS, and they invited almost no one who speaks for those of us in the Arab world, and from Arab communities, who have everything to lose from ISIS’s growing popularity,” said one Arab attendee, who estimated that less than 10% of the attendants were of Middle Eastern descent. “They don’t understand this community. That has been proven time and time again with their tone deaf messages. Why hold an event like this where there are ten white men outnumbering every Arab?”
The lack of voices from the Middle East at the event was raised repeatedly, with one attendee garnering applause when they asked why — in a discussion regarding ISIS’s appeal to young Arab-American Muslims — there was no one speaking to their appeal from within that community.
This is what happens when people fail upward and you have a country run by a cadre of incompetent, corrupt and clueless “elites.”
Other media outlets, who were leaked a list of attendees, revealed that Microsoft, Facebook, Apple, Google, Mediacom, and Edelman were among those attending from Hollywood and Silicon Valley. In a statement, the Department of Justice noted that Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Carlin, U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith, and Senior Director for Counterterrorism on the National Security Council Staff Jen Easterly all took part in the meeting.
Now here’s the most disturbing revelation.
Over the last year, the government has stepped up its overtures to Silicon Valley, meeting with tech executives in January on the subject of combatting ISIS online. The Department of Defense has opened an office in the San Francisco area, and the State Department has recently appointed its first representative to Silicon Valley. Tech executives who have met with the Pentagon team told BuzzFeed News that some of their requests have been “jarring.” In at least one case, the Pentagon spoke with several companies — who asked not to be named as a condition of discussing the meeting with BuzzFeed News — about tweaking their algorithms to promote certain types of content. Both Google and Facebook have made it clear that they would not make changes to their algorithms to bury results supportive of ISIS.
May as well just call it the Department of Propaganda. Truly unbelievable.
“That’s something that is always brought up in meetings. And it shows how little they understand us,” said the Google representative. “This is a Pandora’s box we won’t open, because if we answer a request by the U.S. government to feature one search result over another, what’s to stop other countries from requesting the same? What’s to stop each country from tailoring the search results of their citizens to their agenda? It’s not a path we are willing to explore.”
Read that again. It’s always brought up at meetings. Perfect example of why Apple needs to be supported in its battle with the FBI. The U.S. government wants nothing short of total control. See:
At its core, said many attendees, the issue was the basic distrust the tech and entertainment companies have for the government, which has been amplified by the unprecedented attempt to force Apple to help the FBI break into an encrypted phone and the strong stance taken by tech companies including Google, Microsoft, and Facebook to stand behind Apple.
“It’s like you’ve been asked to partner up and dance with the bully at school who keeps trying to trip you in the hallways,” one attendee told BuzzFeed News after the event. “And even though you want to learn to dance, there isn’t a lot of trust to build on.”