October 22, 2019

YouTube disables 210 channels tied to Hong Kong disinformation campaigns

Google’s YouTube is the latest digital platform to confirm it has been manipulated to spread disinformation about the Hong Kong protests.

In a blog post, the video streaming company said it disabled 210 channels after it determined they were engaging in coordinated efforts to spread anti-protest propaganda. Earlier this week, Twitter and Facebook also took down hundreds of accounts for engaging in what appeared to be a coordinated campaign against the Hong Kong protesters.

“This discovery was consistent with recent observations and actions related to China announced by Facebook and Twitter,” said Shane Huntley, one of Google’s security leaders, in the blog post.

Unlike Twitter and Facebook, YouTube stopped short of pointing the finger at China’s central government and state news agencies.

Still, the revelations are the latest in a series of black eyes YouTube has incurred over past couple of years.

Like its social media brethren, the company has been struggling to stem the tidal wave of hate-filled and racist content flooding its platform. It has taken steps to stop recommending conspiracy theory videos to viewers. But it is now under investigation for failing to protect kids from inappropriate content and harassment.

In general, this week has offered another brutal reminder of these tech giants’ fundamental inability to safeguard their platforms.

In addition to the China news, Facebook had to disable dozens of accounts in Myanmar, where it is still being used to incite ethnic violence. And Twitter is now battling a rising number of porn spam bots that are flooding its trending topics.