Tech Giants, Madison Ave. Meet With Justice Department to Counter ISIS Messaging

Inside the Agenda of The 'Madison Valleywood Project'

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Advertising's frontline stepped up in the war on terrorism today as an elite group of ad and technology executives met with the U.S. Justice Department in Washington D.C. to come up with a plan to counter extremist propaganda from the Islamic State.

Justice Department
Justice Department Credit: CoolCaesar/Wikimedia Commons

The meeting was first reported by the Associated Press, which said that "dozens" of representatives from the ad and technology industries would attend. Ad Age has learned that the gathering was dubbed The Madison Valleywood Project and was attended by Twitter, Facebook and several major creative agencies, all of which declined to comment, citing confidentiality concerns.

The DOJ also declined to discuss the attendees, but said in a statement: "Over the past year, organizations and companies across a range of industries have asked how they might contribute to efforts to counter radicalization and recruitment activities by ISIL and other violent extremists. The U.S. Government recognizes that these private-sector actors, which include NGOs, social media companies, and content producers, have a crucial role to play in developing creative and effective ways to undermine terrorist recruiting and counter the call to violence. The Department of Justice is hosting [this meeting] in order to build on these efforts and to connect private-sector leaders with one another as they join together to reject calls to violence and to stand up for our values."

Ad Age obtained a copy of the meeting's agenda, which was set to begin with a welcome from Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin.

After Mr. Carlin's welcoming remarks, the document said there would be a briefing on "framing the complexity of the challenge," followed by a panel about "ISIL's media strategy, including examples of ISIL recruiting materials." The panel was to include discussions around meeting the challenge of bringing to scale counter-narratives and optimistic messaging.

U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith was then expected to give remarks about setting the tone and ground rules. Later on in the meeting, teams of eight people were scheduled to work together on "storyboarding the opportunity," which includes determining where they think they have the greatest impact and delivering their reports.

The last session was to focus on "huddling to roadmap action for the next 100 days," the agenda said, followed by Senior Director for Counterterrorism Jen Easterly concluding the meeting.

Facebook and Twitter did not offer comments about the meeting, but in a recent blog post, entitled "Combating Violent Extremism," Twitter wrote, "Beginning in late 2013, our global public policy team embarked upon an ambitious outreach campaign, attending over 40 countering violent extremism (CVE) events and trainings on four continents."

The Madison Valleywood Project is taking place while Apple and the Department of Justice continue to clash over the unlocking of a phone used by a suspected terrorist in the San Bernardino, Calif., attack in December.

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