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YouTube spoils Chinese propaganda party further; disables 210 channels

YouTube joins Twitter and Facebook in removing Chinese government-backed propaganda from their respective platforms by disabling 210 channels that were uploading coordinated videos related to the Hong Kong protests.

Earlier this week, on Monday, it was found that the Chinese government was running a propaganda campaign via Twitter ads aimed at discrediting the protesters in Hong Kong. These ad campaigns were being run by several state-owned media outlets, including Xinhua News.

Later, Twitter changed its advertising policy, stating that they won’t accept advertisements from government-sponsored media outlets moving forward and also suspended 936 accounts that originated in China, where the social media platform is banned. Facebook also followed suit and removed seven pages, three groups and five accounts that were found to be a part of this state-backed attack on protesters in Hong Kong.

Similar to Twitter, YouTube also found that VPNs were being used to mask the origin of these channels.

Also read: What is a Watering hole attack and how is it carried out?

“As a part of our ongoing efforts to combat coordinated influence operation, we disabled 210 channels on YouTube when we discovered channels in this network 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, Google Security, said in an announcement.

The main cause of protests in Hong Kong is the bill introduced by China earlier this year in April that allowed the government to deport people accused of crimes against mainland China. This bill, according to many, would be a deathblow to activists, journalists and any dissenter in Hong Kong as the Chinese government is not known for its tolerance of critics.

The bill was later suspended in July as protests erupted with around 2 million citizens taking to the streets but the Chinese government still intends to get that bill back and is using advertisement and coordinated attacks against the protesters on various social networks, out of which three have acknowledged it and taken steps to curb the attacks.

On Wednesday, Google, Mozilla and Apple blocked Kazakhstan government’s attempt to intercept internet traffic for scores of websites including popular social networks such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and search engines like Google, among others.

Also read: What is Differential Privacy and does it keep user data anonymous?

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