Dozens of Facebook, Instagram accounts blocked over election interference concerns

Facebook, Inc. said it has identified and blocked some 30 Facebook and 85 Instagram accounts over concerns of foreign election interference, on the eve of the U.S. midterm elections.

The action came after law enforcement authorities contacted Facebook to inform them of social media activity that they believe may be linked to foreign entities, Nathaniel Gleicher, the company’s cybersecurity policy head, said in a release.

Most the Facebook pages were in Russian or French, while the Instagram accounts were largely in English.

Gleicher said the accounts were possibly engaged in “coordinated inauthentic behaviour,” although he said it was too early to tell whether they were linked to the notorious Russian-based Internet Research Agency troll farm.

“Typically, we would be further along with our analysis before announcing anything publicly,” Gleicher 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.”

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. M-DA

Facebook didn’t always take the risk of election interference seriously, however. Days after the surprise victory of U.S. President Donald Trump in 2016, CEO Mark Zuckerberg brushed off assertions that the outcome had been influenced by fictional news stories on Facebook.

That attitude shifted as criticism of the company mounted.

— With files from the Associated Press

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