Facebook blocks 30 accounts ahead of USA midterm elections

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

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.

A handful of Twitter accounts, some of them with more than 10,000 followers, told the citizenry to vote Wednesday, not Tuesday, in a tactic to give blatant false information.

The social media company shut down 30 Facebook accounts and 85 Instagram accounts and is investigating them in more detail, it said in a blog post late Monday.

At this early stage, Facebook says it doesn't know which foreign actors were attempting to spread mischief on its platform, or whether any of these accounts are linked to the Russia-based Internet Research Agency.

The social media giant said in a statement that it became aware of accounts that may be "engaged in coordinated inauthentic behavior" on Sunday evening.

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".

Facebook's purge is part of countermeasures to prevent abuses like those used by Russian groups two years ago to sway public opinion ahead of the 2016 US presidential election.

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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.

Facebook also disclosed sophisticated attempts from Russian Federation to interfere with elections and promote political discord in the U.S.

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.

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

The company reportedly blocked 30 accounts on Facebook and another 85 on Instagram.

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.

A joint statement released Monday by DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and FBI Director Christopher Wray warned that while there was no indication that America's voting infrastructure - voting machines, for example - had been compromised, foreign operatives were seeking to influence American voters. "Americans can rest assured that we will continue to stay focused on this mission long after polls have closed".

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