Google disables China-backed YouTube channels

Google found use of virtual private networks and other methods to disguise the origin of these accounts and other activity commonly associated with coordinated influence operations.

By Author  |  Published: 23rd Aug 2019  10:11 am

San Francisco: Google has disabled 210 YouTube channels that China used to sow discord among protesters in Hong Kong. The tech giant discovered that these YouTube accounts behaved in a coordinated manner while uploading videos related to the ongoing protests in Hong Kong.

“This discovery was consistent with recent observations and actions related to China announced by Facebook and Twitter,” Shane Huntley, Threat Analysis Group at Google Security said in a blog post on Thursday. Google found use of virtual private networks (VPNs) and other methods to disguise the origin of these accounts and other activity commonly associated with coordinated influence operations.

“Each month, our Threat Analysis Group sends more than 4,000 warnings to our users about attempts by government-backed attackers or other illicit actors to infiltrate their accounts,” said the company. Earlier this week, as pro-democracy protests gained momentum in Hong Kong, Twitter and Facebook suspended several accounts that were part of the Chinese government’s influence campaign and targeted protest movement in Hong Kong.

Twitter said it suspended more than 200,000 accounts involved in coordinated inauthentic behaviour — including 936 accounts originating from within China. Facebook said it removed seven Pages, three Groups and five accounts that originated in China and involved in posting fake news pertaining to the ongoing protests in Hong Kong.

Since June, Hong Kong has been rocked by a wave of protests because of the extradition bill, which would have enabled fugitives to be extradited from Hong Kong to mainland China. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said she was willing to create a platform for dialogue, but will not sanction an independent investigation into police actions during the political crisis that has rocked the city for almost three months.