US Election: Facebook deletes accounts aimed at political meddling

Facebook says it is exploring a possible link of these accounts to Russia. — File

Facebook says it is exploring a possible link of these accounts to Russia. — File

Among the Facebook and Instagram accounts that were linked to Russian trolls ahead of the USA midterm elections this month, one on Instagram had more than 600,000 US followers, Facebook said in a blog post on Tuesday.

Nathaniel Gleicher, the head of Facebook's cyber security policy, in a blog post shared several examples of the deleted content. In addition, they explored the possible link to Russian Federation.

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"Trolls have an incentive to claim that their activities are more widespread and influential than may be the case".

The company on Monday gave details of the effort, saying it removed 36 Facebook accounts, 6 Facebook pages and 99 Instagram accounts that weren't run by real people, and were coordinating to spread political messages ahead of the election.

"Based on this information, we quickly identified numbers of accounts that appeared to be engaged in the coordinated inauthentic behavior".

The majority of accounts were created after the middle of year 2017.

One Instagram account reached more than 600,000 U.S. users.

Homeless vet, couple in viral campaign faked story
The past year has been wrought with allegations of theft and wrongdoing between the parties, leading to more attention. Bobbitt and the couple worked together to concoct the tale and gain sympathy and cash.

As for the Facebook pages, at least one had around 65,000 followers and, in total, they hosted $4,500 worth of ads, though none appeared in the U.S.

The accounts may be connected to the Internet Research Agency, Facebook said.

The accounts posted content related to various social issues in the US using hashtags such as #DonaldTrump, #MakeAmericaGreatAgain, #GayPride, #Feminism and #BlackPride.

On November 5 - the eve of the contentious midterm elections that saw Democrats take control of the House of Representatives - Facebook announced it had been informed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation about "online activity that they belied was linked to foreign entities", and subsequently took down dozens of accounts and pages.

A study published in late October found that misinformation on social media was spreading at a greater rate than during the run-up to the 2016 presidential vote, which Russian Federation is accused of manipulating through a vast propaganda campaign in favor of Donald Trump, the eventual victor.

Major online social platforms have been under intense pressure to avoid being used by "bad actors" out to sway outcomes by publishing misinformation and enraging voters.

The war room is part of stepped up security announced by Facebook, which will be adding some 20,000 employees.

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