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Over 100 Facebook Accounts Blocked Prior to U.S. Midterm Elections

In April, Facebook closed some 270 accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency.

Facebook says it has blocked more than 100 accounts with potential ties to a so-called Russian “troll farm” that may have sought to interfere with Tuesday’s U.S. midterm elections.

The social media giant said in a statement Wednesday that it had blocked the Facebook and Instagram accounts ahead of the vote. Facebook said it made the move after a tip from law enforcement officials.

Facebook’s head of cybersecurity, Nathaniel Gleicher, said in a statement that the accounts were blocked late Monday over suspicions they were “engaged in coordinated inauthentic behavior, which is banned from our services.” Among those accounts blocked were 85 Instagram accounts and 30 Facebook pages, most of which were in French or Russian languages. The Instagram accounts were mostly English-language, Facebook said.

Facebook, U.S.
Facebook’s Samidh Chakrabarti, director of elections and civic engagement, from left, stands with Katie Harbath, global politics and government outreach director, and Nathaniel Gleicher, head of cybersecurity policy, during a demonstration in the company’s war room, where election-related content is monitored, in Menlo Park, Calif. VOA

Investigators say the accounts may be linked to a group known as the Internet Research Agency, which is based in St. Petersburg, Russia. In February, a federal grand jury indicted the group over allegations of interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Gleicher called the recent discovery “a timely reminder that these bad actors won’t give up — and why it is so important we work with the U.S. government and other technology companies to stay ahead.”

Before Gleicher’s statement, the Internet Research Agency said in a statement that it was responsible for the accounts, although that has not been verified.

facebook, U.S. Politicals ads
This photo shows a Facebook app icon on a smartphone in New York. VOA

In its statement, the organization said, “Citizens of the United States of America! Your intelligence agencies are powerless. Despite all their efforts, we have thousands of accounts registered on Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit spreading political propaganda.” The message was written in capital letters.

The statement also included a list of accounts to which the organization was supposedly attached.

Also Read: How Political Ads Work, A Guide by Facebook and Google

In April, Facebook closed some 270 accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency. Facebook also recently banned 82 accounts linked to Iran, that were posting politically charged memes. (VOA)

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