Facebook blocks 115 accounts for alleged 'inauthentic behavior' ahead of midterms

Facebook removes more pages, as FBI warns Russia still targeting American voters

Facebook removes more pages, as FBI warns Russia still targeting American voters

Gleicher wrote that the accounts were immediately blocked after the company was notified Sunday evening of suspicious behavior and that the questionable accounts - potentially linked to foreign entities - are being investigated "in more detail".

SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook said Monday it had blocked some 30 accounts on its platform and 85 accounts on photo-sharing social network Instagram over concerns they may be linked to foreign entities and aimed at interfering in U.S. midterm elections.

It said it would provide an update once it knew more, including whether the accounts were linked to the Russia-based Internet Research Agency, widely recognised as a "troll factory" which ran fake ads on social media during the 2016 U.S. election.

"Typically, we would be further along with our analysis before announcing anything publicly", Gleicher said.

In an announcement late Monday, Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook's head of cybersecurity policy, said the social media giant has so far identified 115 total accounts on Facebook and Instagram that "may be linked to foreign entities".

Facebook took down 30 accounts as well as 85 accounts on Instagram, which is also owns after warnings of sustained efforts to affect the result of the United States midterms, which take place today.

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

Facebook last month said it took down accounts linked to an Iranian effort to influence U.S. and British politics with messages about charged topics such as immigration and race relations.

The announcement comes as Facebook remains under pressure to purge bots and other foreign actors intent on undermining the US political system from its platforms.

Posts on the accounts or pages, which included some hosted by Facebook-owned Instagram, focused mostly on "sowing discord" via strongly divisive issues rather than on particular candidates or campaigns.

The announcement came shortly after U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies said they had no indication of efforts to disrupt election infrastructure but that Americans should be wary of Russian attempts to spread fake news.

A joint statement released by DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, DNI Dan Coats, and FBI Director Christopher Wray said, "Americans should be aware that foreign actors-and Russian Federation in particular-continue to try to influence public sentiment and voter perceptions through actions meant to sow discord".

Facebook and other social media companies are sensitive to the potential for misbehavior.

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