White House Talks Coronavirus with Tech Giants

The White House hosted a meeting with tech companies Wednesday to talk about tech-related response efforts to the coronavirus (COVID-19), including getting online platforms to work together to "root out misinformation" about the virus, though it was not clear how that was being defined. 

The President has accused the media of misreporting the virus threat to make him look bad and help his Democratic foes. 

At the meeting, U.S. Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios previewed a database of coronavirus-related scholarly literature that will be released in the next few days, and, according to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, which convened the meeting, "challenged the tech community to leverage technology tools, such as artificial intelligence, to help medical researchers glean scientific insights from this collection of articles." 

Getting that challenge in person were representatives from Amazon, Apple, Cisco, the Consumer Technology Association, Facebook, Google, IBM, the Information Technology Industry Council, Microsoft, the Software & Information Industry Association, TechNet, and Twitter. 

“The White House’s top priority is ensuring the safety and health of the American people amid the COVID-19 outbreak," said Kratsios following the meeting. "Cutting edge technology companies and major online platforms will play a critical role in this all-hands-on-deck effort." He said the conversation with the tech companies would continue. 

That conversation went beyond massaging literature to improving information sharing between federal agencies and tech companies, increased coordination among online platforms to "to identify best practices to root out COVID-19 misinformation," and the use of tech tools like AI "to make it easier for medical researchers to review Coronavirus-related research publications for scientific insights." 

They also discussed tech's role in telework, online education and telehealth all of which will need ramp-ups if the virus results in widespread quarantines and school closings. 

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.