Google Bans Over 2,000 YouTube Channels for Pro-China Spam

Google has banned hundreds of Chinese YouTube channels that it says were involved in “coordinated impact operation campaigns”. Between April and June this year, the company’s division responsible for dealing with government-backed attacks, the Threat Analysis Group (TAG), took over 2,600 YouTube accounts, well above the 277 channels blocked in the first three months of 2020.

Most of these channels posted “spam, non-political content”, Google said in a blog post, but some of them were actively participating in a spam network and uploaded political content, mainly in Chinese .

“A subset posted Chinese content similar to the findings in a recent Graphica report, including content related to racial justice protests in the US. The campaign was in line with similar findings reported by Twitter.”

Graphica’s report titled “Return of the (Spamoflaze) Dragon: Pro Chinese Spam Network Tris Again” talks about a broad-scale pro-propaganda effort on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other social media that gained momentum earlier this year. Was established in .

“The network heavily used video footage taken from Chinese-Chinese government channels, along with memes and long texts from both Chinese and English languages,” the report said. “It spreads its political content with spam posts, typically visuals, basketball, models, and TikTok videos.”

In addition to these Chinese spam accounts, Google has banned several channels, which are linked to being affected by Russia and Iran campaigns.

We’ve reached out to Google for a comment about whether it’s developing any pre-emptive protections before the election and we’ll update the story when we hear back.

Earlier this year, TAG identified more than a dozen government-supported attacker groups, using COVID-19 themes as fodder for phishing and malware efforts. On top of that, Google stated that it was handling 240 million spam as well as 18 million malware and phishing Gmail messages per day related to COVID-19 and its systems were trained to block 99.9%.

Over the years, social media platforms such as YouTube and Facebook have struggled to deal with foreign political interference. While they have now begun to actively clamp down on these coordinated spam efforts, the issues are not yet over – especially with the growing presidential elections in the United States.

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