Google

Google removes 2,500 China-linked Youtube channels over disinformation

Camille Elemia
Google says it removed the channels 'as part of our ongoing investigation into coordinated influence operations linked to China'

Google has deleted more than 2,500 China-linked Youtube channels for spreading disinformation, according to its quarterly threat analysis bulletin posted on August 5.

The tech company said they deleted these channels between April and June “as part of our ongoing investigation into coordinated influence operations linked to China.”

Google did not identify these channels. It only said that these mostly posted “spammy, non-political content,” with a small subset that posted about politics.

In April and May, it removed a total of 1,284 channels linked to China. A small subset posted content, primarily in Chinese, relating to the United States’ response to the coronavirus pandemic. The same findings, Google said, were identified by social media analytics firm Graphika.

In June, the company terminated 1,312 channels, a portion of which posted content related to the racial justice protests in the US following the killing of George Floyd. Google said this was consistent with similar findings by Twitter.

These actions came as tensions between the US and China worsened a few months before the presidential election in November. Disinformation is among the primary concerns of American voters, following Russian interference in the 2016 polls.

On Thursday, August 6, US President Donald Trump announced sweeping restrictions against Chinese-owned social media giants TikTok and WeChat, his latest explosive move aimed at countering China’s rising global power.

Trump has taken an increasingly heavy hammer to US relations with China, challenging it on trade, military, and economic fronts, and Thursday’s effort provoked more outrage in Beijing.

Beijing slammed the move as “arbitrary political manipulation and suppression” and said it would come at the expense of American users and companies. – with reports from Agence France Presse / Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com