Facebook, Twitter to attend disinformation event at federal elections office

The Federal Election Commission invites the companies to a Sept. 17 symposium.

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Queenie Wong was a senior writer for CNET News, focusing on social media companies including Facebook's parent company Meta, Twitter and TikTok. Before joining CNET, she worked for The Mercury News in San Jose and the Statesman Journal in Salem, Oregon. A native of Southern California, she took her first journalism class in middle school.
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Queenie Wong
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Facebook and Twitter say they'll take part in a Federal Election Commission symposium about fake news.

Angela Lang/CNET

Facebook and Twitter  plan to attend an event this month at the Federal Election Commission's office in Washington, DC, about digital disinformation, the companies said Thursday.  

The FEC is co-hosting the Sept. 17 event with the Global Digital Policy Incubator at Stanford University's Cyber Policy Center and with PEN America, a nonprofit that advocates for free expression. 

The companies didn't say who'd represent them at the event. 

FEC Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub invited Facebook, Google and Twitter to attend the event, according to Politico, which cited a note sent by her office to the companies. "The goal of the symposium will be to identify effective policy approaches and practical tools that can minimize the disruption and confusion sown by fraudulent news and propaganda in the 2020 campaign," the note reportedly said.

Google declined to comment. 

Thomas Melia, the Washington director at PEN America, confirmed that the nonprofit is planning an event about disinformation but said the list of speakers hasn't been finalized. The groups are hoping to bring together a variety of experts including tech companies, policy makers, political organizations and journalists to discuss how disinformation works, where it comes from, its impact and what stakeholders can do ahead of the 2020 election. Invites to the general public haven't yet been sent out. 

Social media companies have been under more pressure to combat disinformation, especially after the 2016 US presidential election. Facebook has seen Russians, Iranians and Americans exploit the social network to spread hoaxes and sow discord.

This week, Facebook said it was tightening rules about political ads ahead of the 2020 election. Those changes include asking advertisers for more identification information, such as an FEC ID number or a government or business email that matches their website domain.

CNET's Richard Nieva contributed to this report.