Facebook links Russia-based agency to 115 accounts it blocked prior to midterms

A website “claiming to be associated” with Russia’s Internet Research Agency published a list of Instagram accounts it claimed to be behind, Facebook said Tuesday.

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Facebook revealed late Tuesday that the 115 accounts it blocked for “inauthentic behavior” over the weekend could’ve been linked to Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA).

The social network previously only said it believed “foreign entities” were behind the suspended Facebook and Instagram accounts, but gave more specifics as it announced further suspensions on the day of the US midterm elections.

“This evening a website claiming to be associated with the IRA published a list of Instagram accounts they claim to have created. We had already blocked most of these accounts yesterday, and have now blocked the rest,” Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cyber security policy, said a statement emailed to CNET.

“This is a timely reminder that these bad actors won’t give up — and why it’s so important we work with the US government and other technology companies to stay ahead.”

On Tuesday, it noted that it deleted posts falsely claiming that Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were patrolling polling places for undocumented immigrants. 

Last year Facebook said it found evidence that Russian groups used its service to meddle in the 2016 US presidential election. It’s removed hundreds of accounts — some of which were tied to Iranian influence campaigns — since then, and set up a “war room” to combat misinformation as election season approached.

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