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They include 30 Facebook accounts, mostly in Russian and French, and 85 Instagram accounts, mostly in English.

USA law enforcement tipped the company off that these pages could be linked to foreign entities.

Social media companies say they are now more vigilant against foreign and other potential election interference after finding themselves unprepared to tackle such activity in the US presidential election two years ago.

"Typically, we would be further along with our analysis before announcing anything publicly". Almost all the Facebook pages appeared to be in French or Russian, while the Instagram pages were written mostly in English, Facebook said.

Gleicher said the company typically waits until it is further along in such a probe before publicly acknowledging the steps it takes to remove suspicious accounts, but "given that we are only one day away from important elections in the USA, we wanted to let people know about the action we've taken and the facts as we know them today".

Despite an aggressive crackdown by social media firms, so-called "junk news" is spreading at a greater rate than in 2016 on social media ahead of the United States midterm elections, Oxford Internet Institute researchers said in a study published Thursday.

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Last month, Facebook removed more than 800 pages and accounts that were spreading misinformation seeking to influence public opinion on both the right and left sides of the aisle.

The social network identified 82 pages, groups and accounts that originated in Iran and violated policy on coordinated "inauthentic" behavior.

It was not immediately clear if the accounts are linked to the Russia-based Internet Research Agency or other foreign entities, according to the statement.

It is merely the latest disinformation campaign to have been flagged by Facebook.

"We see this as probably the biggest companywide reorientation since our shift from desktops to mobile phones", Samidh Chakrabarti, who's in charge of elections and civic engagement at Facebook, told The New York Times.

Employees work in Facebook's "War Room", during a media demonstration, October 17, 2018, in Menlo Park, Calif.


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