Election Day 2018: Facebook removes dozens of fake accounts as FBI warns of foreign meddling

Facebook officials took down more than 100 accounts on Facebook and Instagram combined on the eve of the November midterm elections as federal law enforcement officials warned of ongoing foreign efforts to meddle in U.S. elections.

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Law enforcement officials reached out Sunday evening to employees at Facebook after they discovered online activity “which they believe may be linked to foreign entities,” Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, said Monday in a statement.

The social media company blocked about 30 Facebook accounts and 85 Instagram accounts after company officials determined they “may be engaged in coordinated inauthentic behavior.”

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“(We) are now investigating them in more detail,” Gleicher said Monday. “Almost all the Facebook Pages associated with these accounts appear to be in the French or Russian languages, while the Instagram accounts seem to have mostly been in English – some were focused on celebrities, others political debate.”

In a joint statement released Monday by Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen Nielsen, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and FBI Director Christopher Wray, officials said they have seen “no indication of compromise of our nation’s election infrastructure that would prevent voting, change vote counts, or disrupt the ability to tally votes.”

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Still, officials warned that foreign efforts to interfere in U.S. elections continue.

“Americans should be aware that foreign actors — and Russia in particular — continue to try to influence public sentiment and voter perceptions through actions intended to sow discord,” the statement said. “They can do this by spreading false information about political processes and candidates, lying about their own interference activities, disseminating propaganda on social media, and through other tactics.

“The American public can mitigate these efforts by remaining informed, reporting suspicious activity, and being vigilant consumers of information.”

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Voters on Tuesday will elect a new House of Representatives and vote in 35 U.S. Senate elections. In 36 states, governors will be elected.

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