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Google takes action on China-linked YouTube channels that aim to influence Hong Kong protests


By Shawn Lim, Reporter, Asia Pacific

August 26, 2019 | 3 min read

Google has followed in the footsteps of Twitter and Facebook by preventing pro-China propaganda that wants to influence the Hong Kong protests from spreading on its platforms.


Google said it had disabled 210 channels on YouTube when it discovered channels that behaved in a coordinated manner.

In a blog post, Google said it had disabled 210 channels on YouTube when it discovered channels that behaved in a coordinated manner while uploading videos related to the ongoing protests in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong has been rocked over the last couple of months by citizens protesting over a controversial extradition bill and expressing their unhappiness with how China is governing the island.

The bill, if enacted, would allow local authorities to detain and extradite people who are wanted in territories that Hong Kong does not have extradition agreements with, including mainland China and Taiwan.

The protests have turned violent in nature. The country's chief executive Carrie Lam suspended the extradition bill on June 15 and declared it "dead" on July 9, but did not say the bill would be fully withdrawn. Police and protesters are engaged in street battles almost every week.

The protesters also managed to shut down the country’s busy airport after staging sit-in protests.

Concerned Hong Kong citizens have also recently taken out newspaper ads urging an end to the protests.

Google said it also found the use of VPNs and other methods to disguise the origin of these accounts and other activity commonly associated with coordinated influence operations.

“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,” wrote Shane Huntley, from the threat analysis group at Google Security.

“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.”

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