Following similar decisions by Twitter and Facebook, Google announced on Thursday (Aug 22) that YouTube has suspended more than 200 channels that are revealed to be behaving in a coordinated and inauthentic manner.
In a blog post, Google explained that they “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.”
The company did not provide additional information about the content in question or how they identified the accounts besides the following:
“We found use of VPNs and other methods to disguise the origin of these accounts and other activity commonly associated with coordinated influence operations.”
Additionally, they declined to directly attribute the coordinated attacks to the Chinese government.
According to a report by The Washington Post, “The announcements by the tech giants this week also illustrate the reach and pervasiveness of China’s attempts to steer the online conversation about the demonstrations in Hong Kong.”
Chinese officials, however, argued that the suspended social media accounts were created by “students and others living overseas who are free to express themselves.”
YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook are banned in China as part of the government’s “Great Firewall” of censorship.
Objecting to the suspension of the accounts, Chinese foreign minister Geng Shuang said that “I believe people around the world will come to their own judgment about what happens in Hong Kong and what is the truth… Why do you think what is described by the Chinese state-run media outlets must be negative or wrong?”
Tech platforms and social media giants are under pressure to combat disinformation and online deceptions. However, tech companies also face accusations of “over-policing” certain content from state-supported conservative groups who argue for “free speech.”/TISG