Facebook on Monday said it blocked some 30 accounts on its platform and 85 more on Instagram after police warned they may be linked to “foreign entities” trying to interfere in the US midterm election.
The announcement came shortly after US law enforcement and intelligence agencies said that Americans should be wary of Russian attempts to spread fake news. The election is Tuesday.
A study published last week found that misinformation on social media was spreading at a greater rate than during the run-up to the 2016 presidential vote, which Russia is accused of manipulating through a vast propaganda campaign in favour of Donald Trump, the eventual winner.
“On Sunday evening, US law enforcement contacted us about online activity that they recently discovered and which they believe may be linked to foreign entities,” Facebook head of cybersecurity policy Nathaniel Gleicher said in a blog post.
“We immediately blocked these accounts and are now investigating them in more detail.”
The investigation so far identified around 30 Facebook accounts and 85 Instagram accounts that appeared to be engaged in “coordinated inauthentic behaviour,” Gleicher said.
He added that all the Facebook pages associated with the accounts appeared to be in French or Russian.
The Instagram accounts were mostly in English, with some “focused on celebrities, others political debate.”
“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 US, we wanted to let people know about the action we’ve taken and the facts as we know them today.”