Google removes 31,000+ Chinese YouTube channels for coordinated influence operations

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Google has released a new TAG Bulletin report. It shows all coordinated influence operations that it detected and shuttered across its apps in Q1 2022.

Some YouTube channels shuttered due to criticisms on Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir. An AdSense account had connections to influence operations in Turkey. 42 YouTube channels and 2 Ads accounts removed for coordinated influence operations related to Iraq.

Then, we have this:

“We terminated 4361 YouTube channels as part of our ongoing investigation into coordinated influence operations linked to China. These channels mostly uploaded spammy content in Chinese about music, entertainment, and lifestyle. A very small subset uploaded content in Chinese and English about China and U.S. foreign affairs. These findings are consistent with our previous reports,” says Google.

YouTube says this aligns with past TAG reports.

The most recent TAG updates removed the following:

  • 5,460 Chinese YouTube channels in December linked to coordinated influence operations
  • 15,368 Chinese YouTube channels in November
  • 3,311 YouTube channels in October
  • 1,217 in September
  • 1,196 in August
  • 850 in July

All of these linked into the same coordinated influence operations connected with China. All of these are described as “spammy content”. This sums up to more than 31,000 YouTube channels removed in the past seven months.

Google thinks the main reason for this is to build an audience in the app with engaging, light content. Then it uses this reach to scatter a pro-China sentiment. It seeds to a wider audience.

This opens the opportunity for China to sway public opinion through some means. It gently nudges viewers to a more positive view of China’s actions.

For instance, on Q and A platform Quora you will see a horde of examples of people asking questions about China, and you only see vividly positive replies from users.

With YouTube, Chinese-originated groups build audiences to start circulation and distribution chains with a pro-China propaganda.

Read the latest Google TAG report here.

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Author: Francis Rey

Francis is a voracious reader and prolific writer. He has been writing about social media and technology for more than 10 years. During off hours, he relishes moments with his wife and daughter.

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