Staff Reporters
Aug 23, 2019

YouTube closes 210 accounts over Hong Kong 'influence operations'

Meanwhile, Facebook removed 89 Facebook accounts it said were engaged in “coordinated inauthentic behaviour” in Myanmar.

YouTube closes 210 accounts over Hong Kong 'influence operations'

Google announced that it as closed 210 accounts on YouTube involved in “coordinated influence operations” around the ongoing protests in Hong Kong

In addition, Facebook yesterday said it had removed 89 Facebook accounts, 107 Facebook Pages, 15 Facebook Groups, and five Instagram accounts for engaging in “coordinated inauthentic behavior” that originated in Myanmar.

Google said its actions were consistent with similar decisions made by Facebook and Twitter earlier this week.

“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,” Shane Huntley, director of software engineering at Google, said in a blog post.

“We found use of VPNs and other methods to disguise the origin of these accounts and other activity commonly associated with coordinated influence operations,” Huntley said.

On Tuesday, Twitter announced that it suspended or deleted 936 accounts, while Facebook said it removed seven Pages, three Groups and five Facebook accounts that engaged in “inauthentic use” of their platforms for “nefarious tactics” surrounding the ongoing protests in Kong Kong. Both companies asserted the activity was associated with the China government.

Facebook's Myanmar announcement used language identical to the earlier announcement regarding China and Hong Kong. “The people behind this activity used fake accounts—some of which had already been disabled by our automated systems—to promote their content, increase engagement, and manage Groups and Pages,” Facebook said. “They frequently repurposed legitimate news and entertainment content and posted about national and local topics, including crime, ethnic relations, celebrities, and the military.” The activity was linked to people related to the Myanmar military, Facebook asserted.

According to Facebook, a large amount of users were exposed to the “manipulation.” About 900,000 accounts followed one or more of these Pages, about 67,000 accounts joined at least one of these Groups, and around 400 people followed one or more of these Instagram accounts, it said.

The tech giants also faced criticism recently over the undisclosed use of human oversight of users’ audio conversations.

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