Making Science

Google closes over 200 YouTube channels for Hong Kong protest disinformation

Tyrone Stewart

YouTube bearGoogle has shut down 210 channels on YouTube for spreading “coordinated” content about the Hong Kong protests, following in the footsteps of Twitter and Facebook, which both also purged several accounts linked to the protests earlier this week.

Unlike Twitter and Facebook, Google hasn’t gone as far as saying the accounts may be linked directly to the Chinese government but did say its “discovery was consistent with recent observations and actions related to China announced by Facebook and Twitter”.

The network on YouTube is said to have “behaved in a coordinated manner while uploading videos” about the ongoing protests. Google found that the accounts were using “VPNs and other methods” to hide where the accounts were originating.

Google hasn’t said if it will follow Twitter in no longer accepting ads from state-controlled media organisations.

Earlier this week, Google also took action – along with Mozilla – to protect the security and privacy of web users in Kazakhstan, putting in place solutions to block the Kazakh government from trying to intercept things like account information and passwords.

“Protecting our users and the integrity of our platforms is essential to Google’s mission. My team works with others across Google to detect phishing and hacking attempts, identify influence operations and protect users from digital attacks,” said Shane Huntley, threat analysis group at Google Security, in a blog post.