Facebook Blocks 115 Accounts for 'Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior' Ahead of Midterm Elections

Omar Marques  SOPA Images  LightRocket via Getty Images

Omar Marques SOPA Images LightRocket via Getty Images

Just before the United States mid-term elections, Facebook removed a total of 115 accounts it thought that "engaged in coordinated inauthentic behavior".

Nathaniel Gleicher, the company's head of cybersecurity policy, wrote in a blog post that these accounts were blocked and that almost all of the Facebook pages were written in French or Russian, while the Instagram pages were written in English.

Facebook said its "very early-stage investigation" into the activity had identified 30 Facebook accounts and 85 Instagram accounts which could have been involved, and that it had immediately blocked these accounts.

Nearly all of the Facebook Pages associated with the blocked accounts appeared to be in French or Russian.

The social network said it needed to do further analysis to decide if the accounts are linked to Russia's Internet Research Agency or another group.

She said Russian "trolls", or provocateurs, were likely stoking sentiments on both ends of the USA political spectrum "but that the network we now have identified is targeting the far right of American political discourse".

This year's contest has been portrayed as crucial by both Republicans and Democrats because both chambers of Congress, and the accompanying ability to pass or reject President Donald Trump's agenda, are up for grabs.

Facebook has taken action against a number of Facebook and Instagram accounts which appear to be spreading fake news days ahead of the midterm USA elections.

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.

Facebook last month said it took down accounts linked to an Iranian effort to influence USA and British politics with messages about charged topics such as immigration and race relations. In September, Facebook set up a "war room" in its California headquarters dedicated to rooting out disinformation related to the midterms.

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.

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