Published: Thu, November 08, 2018
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

Facebook blocks 30 accounts, 85 on Instagram ahead of US midterm polls

Facebook blocks 30 accounts, 85 on Instagram ahead of US midterm polls

On the eve of midterm elections, Facebook said Monday that it had blocked 115 social media accounts after receiving a warning from federal law enforcement officials of "coordinated inauthentic behavior" that could be linked to foreign entities.

The tip came from USA law enforcement on Sunday night, Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook's head of cybersecurity policy, wrote in the post.

Gleicher said the investigation began Sunday evening with a tip from USA law enforcement, which discovered the suspicious online activity.

Facebook's investigation said it had identified around 30 Facebook and 85 Instagram accounts linked to the suspect behavior. The accounts were blocked and a further investigation is underway.

Facebook has been trying to stop fake accounts being used to influence people in the USA, since it was discovered this was done with the previous U.S. election.

No further details were given about the accounts or suspicious activity.

A spokesperson for Facebook declined to disclose any other details about the extent of the current investigation, including which USA law enforcement agency tipped off Facebook.

The company said it was collaborating with law enforcement agencies, external experts and firms to prevent interference on its platform before and during the elections.

The company announced its actions earlier in its investigation than typical "given that we are only one day away from important elections in the USA", he added.

In October, the company announced the removal of dozens of accounts linked to Iran for similarly spreading disinformation to more than a million followers in the United Kingdom and US.

On Monday, the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, Justice Department and Director of National Intelligence put out a joint statement on election interference.

On Saturday, Twitter had already confirmed that they deleted accounts, automatic writing of messages to discourage voters to go vote on Tuesday.

Facebook said those accounts were connected to a website claiming to be associated with the Russia-based Internet Research Agency (IRA) which the social media giant has accused of running "inauthentic accounts" on its platform earlier this year.

Engaged in its own political campaign of sorts, Facebook has been publicizing its various efforts to curb fake news and political misinformation.

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