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Facebook blocks 115 accounts for 'coordinated inauthentic behavior'
08 November 2018, 03:46 | Erica Roy
Omar Marques SOPA Images LightRocket via Getty Images
Facebook says it has blocked 115 user accounts after US authorities alerted the social network to suspicious activity that may be linked to a foreign country.
The social media giant said USA law enforcement flagged the accounts on Sunday, citing "online activity that they recently discovered and which they believe may be linked to foreign entities", according to the statement.
"Sunday morning, the authorities responsible for the enforcement of the act we have contacted about activities that they have recently discovered and who, could they be related to foreign entities", says the press release.
Most the Facebook pages were in Russian or French, while the Instagram accounts were largely in English.
Facebook has been trying to stop fake accounts being used to influence people in the United States, since it was discovered this was done with the previous United States election.
Facebook said it couldn't give out more details regarding the incident but still went ahead with announcing the investigation a day away from the midterm elections. Some of the accounts were mostly focused on celebrities and other political debates.
"Typically, we would be further along with our analysis before announcing anything publicly", Facebook said. 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 USA presidential election.
Facebook said its decision to release its preliminary findings stemmed from the fact that "we are only one day away from important elections in the USA".
Last month, Facebook removed 82 Pages, Groups and accounts from the platform it claimed were linked to Iran and were engaging in similar behaviour.
The announcement came shortly after USA law enforcement and intelligence agencies said they had no indication of efforts to disrupt election infrastructure but that Americans should be wary of Russian attempts to spread fake news.
"Americans should be aware that foreign actors, and Russian Federation in particular, continue to try to influence public sentiment and voter perceptions through actions meant to sow discord", including through social media, federal authorities said in a statement on Monday.
US tech companies are stepping up security and efforts to fight disinformation campaigns to prevent online troublemakers from trying to divide voters and discredit democracy. The statement detailed government efforts to prevent election interference.
The social media giant also informed that once known it would update, including whether the accounts are linked to the Russian-based Internet Research Agency.
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