Google has shut down hundreds of YouTube channels that it claims were part of a coordinated attempt to spread disinformation about the ongoing protests in Hong Kong.
Google Disables 210 YouTube Channels
The technology company said it disabled 210 channels to protect the integrity of its video-sharing website, saying that the accounts were behaving in a coordinated manner when uploading videos related to the protests.
The search giant made the move just days after Facebook and Twitter removed accounts that they said were used to undermine the pro-democracy demonstrations.
Twitter and Facebook suspended nearly 1,000 active accounts they associated with a coordinated influence campaign. Twitter said it shut down 200,000 more before these accounts could cause any damage.
Both companies accused the Chinese government of backing a campaign on social media to discredit Hong Kong's democracy movement.
Google, however, did not say the Chinese government is behind the now-disabled accounts. It neither revealed further details on the nature or motivation of the materials that it removed from its platform.
VPNs Used To Disguise the Origin Of The Accounts
Shane Huntley, of Google Security's Threat Analysis Group, said VPNs and other methods were used to disguise the origin of the accounts. They also detected other activities commonly linked to coordinated influence operation.
The accounts taken down by Facebook and Twitter also used VPNs. The two companies are banned in China as part of the so-called Great Firewall of censorship. Twitter said that because of the bans, many of the fake accounts it took down were accessed using VPNs to hide the user's location.
Huntley said Google continues working to protect its users against online security threats.
"When identifying and preventing threats, we exchange information with industry partners and law enforcement, and also apply our own internal investigative tools as well as intelligence from third parties," Huntley said in a statement.
"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."