Facebook Shut Down More Than 100 Accounts Possibly Linked To Midterm Interference

U.S. law enforcement tipped the social media giant off to accounts that may have been trying to influence the election outcome.

Facebook removed more than 100 accounts that it believes may have been involved in “coordinated inauthentic behavior” ahead of Tuesday’s midterm elections.

Nathaniel Gleicher, head of cybersecurity policy for the social media giant, said in a statement Monday that law enforcement contacted the company on Sunday about activity linked to foreign entities. Facebook has since identified and removed 30 Facebook accounts and 85 Instagram accounts.

Almost all of the Facebook pages were in French or Russian, Gleicher added, and the Instagram accounts were mainly in English and focused on either celebrity content or political debate.

“Typically, we would be further along with our analysis before announcing anything publicly,” he said. “But given that we are only one day away from important elections in the U.S., we wanted to let people know about the action we’ve taken and the facts as we know them today.”

Facebook had removed 82 pages linked to Iran late last month for the same reason. Offering more detail, the company said that groups and accounts posed as U.S. or UK citizens, posting content on divisive topics like race relations and immigration. In August, another 652 pages also linked to Iran were taken down.

The fight to battle foreign disinformation has raged since efforts to influence a variety of elections worldwide, including the 2016 presidential election, came to light.

Facebook has since tried to clamp down on nefarious foreign actors. In September, Facebook set up a “war room” in its California headquarters dedicated to rooting out disinformation related to the midterms.

“We see this as probably the biggest companywide reorientation since our shift from desktops to mobile phones,” Samidh Chakrabarti, who’s in charge of elections and civic engagement at Facebook, told The New York Times.

Last month, the company announced that it planned to ban fake news about voting requirements and fake reports of violence or long lines at polling stations.

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