World Media

Facebook removes 115 suspicious accounts ahead of United States mid-term elections

Omar Marques  SOPA Images  LightRocket via Getty Images

The company said its early investigation identified about 30 Facebook accounts and 85 Instagram accounts engaged in "coordinated inauthentic behavior".

Gleicher said the investigation began Sunday evening with a tip from USA law enforcement, which discovered the suspicious online activity. The social media company said in a blog post late Monday that it shut down 30 Facebook accounts and 85 Instagram and says it's investigating them in more detail. Offering more detail, the company said that groups and accounts posed as US or United Kingdom citizens, posting content on divisive topics like race relations and immigration.

Some accounts "were focused on celebrities" and others on "political debate", it added.

Facebook said it would provide further information on whether the accounts are linked to the Internet Research Agency, a group linked to Russian propaganda efforts.

They were widely criticized following the 2016 presidential election for allowing themselves to be exploited by foreign influence campaigns.

Facebook said it would normally take more time to investigate before making a public announcement, but has made a decision to act promptly due to the proximity of the US elections.

The revelation came less than a month after Facebook unveiled its so-called "war room" dedicated to combating fake accounts and news stories ahead of the midterm elections. "But given that we are only one day away from important elections in the U.S., we wanted to let people know about the action we've taken and the facts as we know them today", Facebook added.

In October, the company announced the removal of dozens of accounts linked to Iran for similarly spreading disinformation to more than a million followers in the United Kingdom and US.

He also pledged to keep the public updated, suggesting Facebook may move to block more suspicious accounts.

Facebook, which has been blamed for doing too little to prevent misinformation efforts by Russian Federation and others in the 2016 USA election, now wants the world to know it is taking aggressive steps with initiatives like the war room.