YouTube has taken down almost 3000 channels and accounts deemed to part of separate Chinese and Russian state coordinated influence operations.
The vast majority of the work involved the removal of 2946 YouTube channels deemed to be part of a Chinese influence operation, according to Google’s Threat Analysis Group director, Shane Huntley.
“These channels mostly uploaded spammy content in Chinese about music, entertainment and lifestyle,” he explained in a TAG bulletin for Q1 2021. “A very small subset uploaded content in Chinese and English about the US response to COVID-19 and growing US political divisions.”
Much of the rest of the TAG’s work so far this quarter has been focused on Russia.
It includes the termination of three YouTube channels, two accounts and one mobile developer account as part of campaigns which uploaded content on US current events and political rallies held by opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
A further two channels and one advertising account were removed for uploading content about historical events in Afghanistan, Armenia and Ukraine, while five more channels published videos on the annexation of Crimea and the Syrian civil war.
Another channel was taken down for uploading content about current events in Ukraine, deemed to be part of coordinated influence operations.
All of these channels and accounts broadcast content in Russian, highlighting that the Kremlin’s attempts to influence public opinion focus not only on geopolitical foes but also its own people.
The Putin regime is particularly anxious about the influence of popular politician Navalny, who was recently jailed on trumped up charges after surviving an apparent state-backed assassination attempt, and returning to the motherland to face his tormenter.
Google also took action against a handful of channels and accounts run by governments and their proxies in Brazil, Morocco, Kyrgyzstan, Egypt and Ukraine which were deemed to be part of coordinated influence operations.