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First on CNN: Government enlists tech giants to fight ISIS messaging

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Story highlights

  • Executives from Apple, Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, and MTV offered their input to top counterintelligence officials on Wednesday, according to an industry source familiar with the meeting
  • Nick Rasmussen, Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, told the group the administration is making strides in combating ISIS on social media

Las Vegas (CNN)Seeking to bolster its effort to counter ISIS messaging on social media, the Obama administration is assembling something of a high-tech dream team to battle the terrorist group online.

At a meeting conducted at the Justice Department on Wednesday, executives from Apple, Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, and MTV offered their input to top counter intelligence officials, according to an industry source familiar with the meeting. A listing of private companies that attended also included Buzzfeed, though the company later said its representation was limited to a reporter and not a meeting participant.
An agenda for the meeting obtained by CNN labeled the project "Madison Valleywood" -- an apparent combination of metonyms for the American advertising, technology and entertainment sectors.
Nick Rasmussen, Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, told the group the administration is making strides in combating ISIS on social media, where the terrorist army has inspired potential lone wolf assailants to carry out attacks.
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"We've seen more aggressive takedowns across social media platforms, which is a really good thing," Rasmussen was quoted as saying by the source at the gathering.
    Apple's participation in the meeting is notable, given the high-tech firm's clash with the administration over the company's use of encryption to shield customers' data on its popular smart phones.
    Representatives for the White House and the Department of Justice declined to say whether the standoff with Apple arose in Wednesday's meeting.
    An agenda of the session obtained by CNN showed nearly fifty technology firms and community groups participated, along with a cross-section of U.S. government agencies, including the Justice Department, the National Security Council and the State Department. The British Embassy was also included in the manifest.
    The agenda showed sessions dedicated to briefing the technology companies on ISIS's messaging strategy, and developing plans to counteract the terrorist propaganda with "counter-narratives and optimistic messaging."
    The administration has attempted to ramp up its counter-ISIS messaging in recent weeks. Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Los Angeles last week to meet with studio chiefs to "hear their perspectives and ideas of how to counter" ISIS narratives, according to a tweet.
    In January, members of the administration traveled to Silicon Valley in an attempt to lobby against the use of popular social media platforms to recruit terrorists. Officials pointed to that session when, in early February, Twitter announced it was shutting down 125,000 ISIS-related accounts.