Google has disabled 210 YouTube accounts claiming that they were being used by China to manipulation opinions with regards to ongoing demonstrations in the city of Honk Kong.
Shane Huntley Threat Analysis Group, Google Security stated in a blog post that: “As part of our ongoing efforts to combat coordinated influence operations, we 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. This discovery was consistent with recent observations and actions related to China announced by Facebook and Twitter.”
Google say they found evidence of VPNs being used to mask the origin of the accounts and that this is consistent with how other coordinated influence operations are undertaken.
The firm states that each month its threat analysis group has to send out more than 4,000 warnings to users on its services that they may be subject to government-backed attempts to gain access to their accounts.
User affected by this type of attack will be given this warning;
Last year Google’s privacy team shut down access to search data crucial to the company’s ability to build a censored search engine for the Chinese market.
Google engineers were harvesting search queries from a Beijing-based website, 265.com, that the company bought in 2008, and comparing the results to those returned by a Google search for the same term, Ryan Gallagher for The Intercept reported.
This allowed them to help develop a prototype of “Project Dragonfly”, the controversial search engine for China which would censor out banned websites like Wikipedia, the BBC and Facebook, along with other blacklisted sites.