Facebook blocks 115 accounts ahead of US midterm elections

The social media company shut down 30 Facebook accounts and 85 Instagram accounts

Facebook said it blocked 115 accounts for suspected “co-ordinated inauthentic behaviour” linked to foreign groups attempting to interfere in Tuesday’s U.S. midterm elections.

The social media company shut down 30 Facebook accounts and 85 Instagram accounts and is investigating them in more detail, it said in a blog post late Monday.

The company took action after being tipped off Sunday evening by U.S. law enforcement officials, who notified the company about recently discovered online activity, “which they believe may be linked to foreign entities,” Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, Nathaniel Gleicher, wrote in the post .

U.S. tech companies are stepping up security and efforts to fight disinformation campaigns to prevent online troublemakers from trying to divide voters and discredit democracy. 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 U.S. presidential election.\

READ MORE: States and storylines to follow as U.S. voters head to polls

Gleicher said the company will provide an update once it learns more, “including whether these accounts are linked to the Russia-based Internet Research Agency or other foreign entities.”

Almost all of the Facebook Pages associated with the blocked accounts appeared to be in French or Russian. The Instagram accounts were mostly in English and were focused either on celebrities or political debate. No further details were given about the accounts or suspicious activity.

Last month, Facebook removed 82 pages, accounts and groups tied to Iran aimed at stirring up social strife in the U.S. and the U.K. It carried out an even broader sweep in August, removing 652 pages, groups and accounts linked to Russia and Iran. Twitter says it has identified more than 4,600 accounts and 10 million tweets, mostly affiliated with the Internet Research Agency, that it says were linked to foreign meddling in U.S. elections, including the presidential vote of 2016.

The Internet Research Agency is essentially a Russian troll farm that has been indicted by U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller for its actions during the 2016 election.

Kelvin Chan, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Vancouver Island’s current COVID-19 case count officially hits zero

Of the 130 recorded Island Health cases, five people have died, 125 recovered

MISSING: High-risk woman last seen on May 25

Police are asking for the public’s help in locating Jennifer Daughinee-Mendelson

Playgrounds back in the swing of things on the West Shore

Langford, View Royal, Colwood reopen parks, playgrounds

Black bear sighting reported on UVic campus

University urging residents in the area to be careful

Parkland grads mark end to high school in virtual ceremony

North Saanich grads pre-tape graduation ceremony days before school officially reopened

MAP: Dr. Henry reveals which B.C. regions have seen most COVID-19 cases

B.C. health officials release a first look at how the novel coronavirus has reached all corners of the province

POLL: Are you sending your children back to school this month?

Classrooms looked decidedly different when students headed back to school for the… Continue reading

Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park at large

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

No charges to be laid against 22 northern B.C. pipeline protesters

Twenty-two people were arrested in February, but Crown has decided not to pursue charges

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Plan in place for BC Ferries to start increasing service levels

Ferry corporation reaches temporary service level agreement with province

B.C. starts to see employment return under COVID-19 rules

Jobless rate for young people still over 20% in May

Alert Bay resident carves tribute to his community kicking COVID-19’s butt

‘Our little village crushed the curve with love and commitment’

End of an Era: Tofino hair studio closes shop

“We were getting excited to start ramping up and then all of sudden we had to close our doors.”

Most Read