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Facebook takes down accounts Engaged in Misinformation on Eve of Midterms

Inc. said late Monday that the disassembled 115 Facebook and Instagram accounts as social media platforms continue to fight incorrect…

Inc. said late Monday that the disassembled 115 Facebook and Instagram accounts as social media platforms continue to fight incorrect information campaigns for the US mid-term election.

U.S. law enforcement officials dropped Facebook to business on Sunday night, the company said in a blog post. Government officials believe that the business can be linked to foreign players, says the company. The company blocked 30 accounts on Facebook and 85 on Instagram.

The disclosure underlines that foreign actors still use social media to try to shape US politics, just over a year after Facebook showed that Russian state actors used Facebook, Instagram and other platforms to blend in the shattering 201

6 presidential election.

In its revealing Monday, Facebook said that it could not share many details about the accounts but chose to announce the investigation that was given close proximity to Tuesday’s elections. The company said it would provide more updates, as it learned more from its investigation, including whether any of the activities were linked to the Internet Research Agency, a Russian wizard who claimed to be behind many of the Kremlin-backed disinformation efforts targeted at 2016 elections.

“We would usually be longer with our analysis before publishing anything publicly,” said Nathaniel Gleicher, who supervises Facebook’s cyber security policy. “But given that we are just one day away from important elections in the United States, we would let people know about the action we’ve taken and facts as we know them today.”

Last year, Facebook said the Russian-created posts reached an estimated 146 million people on Facebook, including 20 million people at Instagram. Russia has denied any disturbance in the United States elections. Facebook has since found smaller parties of fake accounts created by actors in Iran and Russia – including as late as October – apparently meant to deceive political discussion.

A Facebook spokesman refused to say if the accounts tried to mix with the middle of the election. The FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence did not respond immediately to the request for comments.

The message via Facebook late Monday came soon after a joint statement from senior officials, including FBI executives and DHS, describing the government’s efforts to prevent election interference in the middle.

“At this time, we have no indication of compromise of our nation’s election infrastructure that would prevent voting, changing voting bills or disturbing the ability to vote” the statement said. But it added: “Americans should be aware that foreign actors – and especially Russia – continue to try to influence public feelings and voters perceptions through actions aimed at dispelling.”

Several US officials, including DHS secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, have said in recent weeks that they are more concerned about disinformation about social media than direct attacks on election infrastructure.

Pages associated with 30 Facebook accounts were considered in French and Russian while Instagram accounts were largely in English, Facebook said Monday. Some of Instagram accounts focused on political debate, while others published about celebrities. Facebook spokesman refused to say what topics the Facebook pages wrote on.

Write to Deepa Seetharaman at [email protected] and Dustin Volz at [email protected]

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