Google bans more than 2,500 Chinese YouTube channels for publishing disinformation

Google has ended multiple coordinated influence campaigns from different countries. The company did this by banning thousands of YouTube channels, among other things. Such accounts were mainly from China.

Google announced this in the bulletin of its Threat Analysis Group for the second quarter of 2020. During the past quarter, Google said it banned 2,596 Chinese YouTube channels from the platform, among other things for spreading disinformation. Many of these channels, according to Google, mainly shared ‘spam-like, non-political content’, although a ‘small subset’ also posted political content in Chinese, including about the protests against racism and the approach to covid-19 in the US. .

This is in line with an earlier report from Graphika. According to that company, which analyzes social networks using artificial intelligence, among other things, Chinese spam accounts posted disinformation about the political situation in Hong Kong and the Chinese approach to covid-19. That happened not only on YouTube, but also on Twitter and Facebook. For this they used video images from pro-Chinese media and Chinese and English memes. The accounts alternated political content with ‘regular’ spam posts about, for example, basketball, models and TikTok videos. These spam posts were supposedly published to disguise political content. Graphika calls this influence campaign ‘Spamouflage Dragon’.

Furthermore, Google removed 86 Russian YouTube channels during the past quarter. Three blogs and an AdSense account originating from this country have also been banned. These accounts posted content about Russian and international policy issues, but also content about the American approach to the corona virus and about the EU and countries such as Ukraine, Lithuania and the US. The accounts also responded to some Russian YouTube videos.

Several Iranian Google accounts have also been banned. These accounts were linked to the International Union of Virtual Media, an internet group that tries to gain influence online, for example by publishing disinformation. The accounts in question posted content about the political relationship between the US and Saudi Arabia, among other things.

Some Google accounts believed to belong to a PR agency in Tunisia have also been banned. This includes three Google Play developer accounts and an advertising account. These accounts posted news stories in English and French, targeting an African audience.