Dozens of Facebook pages and Instagram accounts removed

Frederick Owens
November 8, 2018

Facebook on Monday evening said it identified about 30 accounts and 85 Instagram accounts flagged by law enforcement as having possible ties to foreign entities.

The company took action after being tipped off Sunday evening by USA law enforcement officials, who notified the company about recently discovered online activity, "which they believe may be linked to foreign entities", Facebook's head of cybersecurity policy, Nathaniel Gleicher, wrote in the post.

Facebook said it had blocked the accounts flagged by authorities, but it is not clear how active the accounts had been, nor what the manner of their "inauthentic behaviour" was.

The disclosure, which came more than a year after the company revealed Russian state actors used Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms to meddle in the 2016 presidential race, claimed foreign entities were still using the social media platforms and trying to shape US politics.

The revelation came less than a month after Facebook unveiled its so-called "war room" dedicated to combating fake accounts and news stories ahead of the midterm elections.

As for content, some of the accounts were focused on celebrities, while others favored political debate.

Despite an aggressive crackdown by social media firms, so-called "junk news" is spreading at a greater rate than in 2016 on social media ahead of the USA midterm elections, Oxford Internet Institute researchers said in a study published Thursday.

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"At this time we have no indication of compromise of our nation's election infrastructure that would prevent voting, change vote counts, or disrupt the ability to tally votes", said a joint statement by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen; Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, and FBI Director Christopher Wray.

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

Facebook has disrupted a disinformation campaign targeting the U.S. midterm elections first detected by American law enforcement.

All the Facebook pages associated these accounts appear to be in the French or Russian languages.

"But 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", it said.

Facebook, which has been blamed for doing too little to prevent misinformation efforts by Russian Federation and others in the 2016 United States election, now wants the world to know it is taking aggressive steps with initiatives like the war room.

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