Facebook suspends suspicious accounts on the eve of Elections

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On the eve of the US Congress elections, Facebook blocked accounts that showed “suspicious behavior.” It concerns thirty accounts on Facebook and another 85 accounts on Instagram.

What exactly happened on those accounts is still unclear, as they are currently being investigated. Facebook is currently keen on trolling; these are mostly fake accounts that aim to sow unrest.

The platform reports that it concerns accounts that are associated with French-language and Russian-language pages on Facebook. Most suspicious Instagram accounts were in English. Some of the accounts were focused on known people, another part on political debate.

Tip from police

In their own words, the social network was notified by the police of the activities on the accounts yesterday. It is therefore suspected that these activities are linked to foreign parties.

“Normally we would do further research before we come out,” writes the social network in a blog post. “But since we are only one day away from major US elections, we already wanted to inform people about what we did and tell what we know.”

Facebook does not provide further details.

“As soon as we know more – for example, whether these accounts can be associated with the Russian Internet Research Agency or any other foreign power – we will update these messages”, as you can read.
FBI warning

Almost simultaneously with the notification of Facebook, the FBI issued a press release in which it warns foreign parties who want to influence the elections. This is explicitly called Russia.

“They can do this by spreading unrest through fake news. […] Americans can protect themselves against this by being informed, reporting suspicious activities and being watchful news consumers,” writes the investigative service. In October, justice in the US sued a Russian, on suspicion of influencing the Congressional elections.

In recent months, Facebook – together with Twitter – has removed groups of accounts and pages that have shown suspicious behavior at various times. When the platform removed a “coordinated campaign” at the end of July, it was said that it was more difficult to attribute the activities to the Russian troll factory in St. Petersburg, which was so active in 2016, because the trolls now better shield themselves.

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