Friday 23 October 2020

Google removes 2,500 China-linked YouTube channels for misinformation

Google did not identify the specific channels, provided few other details, except to link the videos to similar activity spotted by Twitter

Apparently under the pressure of the Donald Trump administration that has repeatedly been flagging the concern of social mediums behaving in a politically biased manner, Google says it has deleted more than 2,500 YouTube channels tied to China as part of its effort to weed out disinformation on the video-sharing platform.

The Alphabet-owned company said the channels were removed between April and June “as part of our ongoing investigation into coordinated influence operations linked to China.”

The channels generally posted “spammy, non-political content,” but a small subset touched on politics, the company said in a quarterly bulletin on disinformation operations.

Google did not identify the specific channels and provided few other details, except to link the videos to similar activity spotted by Twitter and to a disinformation campaign identified in April by social media analytics company Graphika.

The Chinese Embassy in the US didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment. Beijing has in the past denied allegations of spreading disinformation.

Disinformation seeded by foreign actors has emerged as a burning concern for American politicians and technologists alike since the 2016 presidential election, when Russian government-linked actors pumped hundreds of thousands of deceptive messages into the social media ecosystem.

Many have spent the past four years trying to avoid a repeat of 2016, with companies like Google and Facebook issuing regular updates on how they’re combating online propaganda.

The bulletin also mentioned activity tied to other countries, including Iran and Russia.

When Google was pandering to China

Not so long ago, users had figured that YouTube was automatically deleting comments containing certain phrases of the Chinese language that indicate they are critical of the Communist Party of China (CCP) even as the world struggled to fight coronavirus that originated by design or accident from the country.

If a comment contained the words “共匪” (“communist bandit”) or “五毛” (“50-cent party”), it will hardly stay on YouTube for long, users have found.

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