The timing has been linked to the US mid-term elections

Facebook has removed 32 pages and accounts over what it calls "coordinated inauthentic behaviour".

Some of the pages taken down also relate to Instagram, which Facebook owns.

In a statement, the company says: "This kind of behaviour is not allowed on Facebook because we don't want people or organisations creating networks of accounts to mislead others about who they are, or what they're doing.

"We're still in the very early stages of our investigation and don't have all the facts - including who may be behind this.

"But we are sharing what we know today given the connection between these bad actors and protests that are planned in Washington next week."

One of the pages shut down by Facebook | Image: Facebook

These protests are coming just ahead of US mid-term elections in November.

The New York Times reports that the accounts and pages "are believed to be engaging in political activity ahead of November's midterm elections".

Facebook says: "It's clear that whoever set up these accounts went to much greater lengths to obscure their true identities than the Russian-based Internet Research Agency (IRA) has in the past.

"We believe this could be partly due to changes we’ve made over the last year to make this kind of abuse much harder."

In total, more than 290,000 accounts followed at least one of these pages, the earliest of which was created in March 2017. The latest was created in May 2018.

One of the events shut down by Facebook | Image: Facebook

Facebook's head of cybersecurity policy, Nathaniel Gleicher, says the pages created about 30 events since May 2017.

"About half had fewer than 100 accounts interested in attending.

"The largest had approximately 4,700 accounts interested in attending, and 1,400 users said that they would attend."

The company's still reviewing the content and ads from these pages.

But it says they ran about 150 ads for approximately $11,000 on Facebook and Instagram - paid for in US and Canadian dollars.