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Facebook says removed more accounts linked to Russia during US elections

Computer Screen (Yosomono/Flickr)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Facebook says it blocked more accounts associated with Russia during U.S. congressional elections that saw Democrats capture a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives but Republicans retain control of the Senate.

The company said on November 7 that a website claiming to be associated with the Internet Research Agency, a so-called troll farm based in St. Petersburg, Russia, published a list of Instagram accounts they claimed to have created.

“We had already blocked most of these accounts…and have now blocked the rest,” Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cyber security policy said, without disclosing the number of additional accounts blocked.

The social network had already blocked 115 Facebook and Instagram accounts on the eve of the U.S. midterm elections after authorities tipped it off to suspicious behavior linked to a foreign entity.

Facebook said that 85 of the accounts it previously removed were posting in English on Instagram, while 30 were on Facebook and were associated with pages in French and Russian.

The company said it needed to do further analysis to determine if the deleted accounts are linked to Russia’s Internet Research Agency or any other group.

Both Facebook and Twitter have taken down millions of posts and blocked hundreds of accounts linked to influence operations by Russia, Iran, and other actors in the run-up to the U.S. elections on November 6.

The social media networks were widely criticized for failing to stop attempts at foreign interference during the 2016 presidential election.

U.S. prosecutors have charged the Internet Research Agency as well as Russian GRU agents in cases alleging they sought to influence the 2016 election through social media campaigns as well as by hacking and leaking internal Democratic party documents.