Facebook suspended more than 100 accounts the day before the US midterm elections

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer of Facebook, checks his phone during the annual Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference, July 13, 2018 in Sun Valley, Idaho.
  • Facebook announced on Monday that it blocked several accounts after US law-enforcement officials warned they may be connected to foreign entities.
  • The social media network said it found and blocked 30 Facebook accounts and 85 Instagram profiles that is said were exhibiting “coordinated inauthentic behaviour.”
  • Facebook said it is still trying to figure out what exactly these accounts were up to, but that given the sensitive nature of the US government’s warning, and the close proximity to the November 6 midterm election, it chose to take preemptive measures.

Facebook announced on the eve of Election Day in the US that it had blocked several Facebook and Instagram accounts after US law-enforcement officials warned that they may be connected to foreign entities.

The social media network said it found and blocked 30 Facebook accounts and 85 Instagram profiles that is said were exhibiting “coordinated inauthentic behaviour.”

“As part of our efforts to prevent interference on Facebook during elections, we are in regular contact with law enforcement, outside experts and other companies around the world,” Facebook’s head of security Nathaniel Gleicher, said in a press release on Monday night. He said those partnerships had already helped the company remove several “bad actors” from the website.

Facebook said that “almost all” of the Facebook accounts that it had blocked featured French and Russian-language content. The company noted that the 85 Instagram accounts that it deactivated were mostly filled with celebrity and political news in English.

Facebook said it is still trying to figure out what exactly these accounts were up to, but that given the sensitive nature of the US government’s warning, and the close proximity to the November 6 midterm election, it chose to take preemptive measures.

Facebook received tremendous criticism over its failure to address Russian influence campaigns that helped taint political discourse online during the 2016 presidential election. US intelligence agencies have found that those efforts by Russia were intended to swing the election in Donald Trump’s favour.

Facebook has said publicly that it is committed to making sure every user on its site is authentic, citing how it blocked 82 Iranian-linked Facebook accounts on October 26 after US authorities notified them about “inauthentic” pages spreading divisive political posts to about one million followers.

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