Face­book blocks 115 ac­counts

Simcoe Reformer - Times-Reformer - - WORLD NEWS - KELVIN CHAN

LON­DON — 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.

Gle­icher said the com­pany will pro­vide an up­date once it learns more, “in­clud­ing whether these ac­counts are linked to the Rus­si­abased 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.

GETTY IMAGES FILES

Above: Face­book em­ploy­ees are seen in the com­pany’s war room. Face­book says it had blocked 115 ac­counts over con­cerns they may be linked to for­eign en­ti­ties and aimed at in­ter­fer­ing in U.S. midterm elec­tions.

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