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Techies, Unite! Feds Form Task Force to Fight Terrorists Online

The White House is forming a task force dedicated to countering the use of social media and online propaganda by ISIS and other militant groups.
Image: al Qaeda is losing the ideological battle with ISIS
In a clear sign that al Qaeda is losing the ideological battle with ISIS, online forums once aligned with al Qaeda — including Osama bin Laden’s favorite chat room — have switched allegiance to the more violent Islamic State, experts say. AP, file

The Obama administration is shaking up the way it fights terrorist propaganda online, and it’s getting help from some of the nation’s top technology companies.

The White House announced Friday afternoon it is creating a new counter-terrorism task force within the Department of Homeland Security. The Countering Violent Extremism Task Force is aimed at disrupting the way ISIS and other terrorist organizations recruit and disseminate information on the Internet.

"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," the White House said in a statement. ISIL is the preferred government acronym when referring to ISIS.

Read More: Obama Officials Seek Tech Companies' Help on Ways to Disrupt Terrorists

The announcement came as some of President Obama’s top national security and counter terrorism officials were meeting with a handful of the nation’s leading technology companies in the Silicon Valley.

NBC News confirmed that Google, Apple and Facebook were in on those meetings. The Associated Press confirmed that Microsoft, Twitter and LinkedIn were also at the table.

The President’s chief of staff Denis McDonough, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, FBI Director James Comey, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers and White House Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith were all in attendance at the meeting.

The goal of the meeting was to discuss terrorists' presence on social media, encryption and how to make it harder for terrorists to use the internet to recruit, radicalize and mobilize followers.

The White House said the meeting was to follow up on the President’s call in his address on Dec. 6 for the government and private sector to work together to combat terrorism and counter violent extremism online.