According to the Threat Analysys Group for Q1, Google took out almost 3000 YouTube channels and accounts. The decision came as YouTube considered that those were linked to influence operations from China and Russia.
YouTube channels, used for political influence
According to Shane Huntley, Google’s Threat Analysis Group director, most of them where part of a Chinese influence operation. ”We terminated 2,946 YouTube channels as part of our ongoing investigation into coordinated influence operations linked to China,” he mentioned.
So, Huntley explained that the channels used to upload mostly spammy content about lifestyle, entertainment and music. Still, just a few uploaded content “about the US response to COVID-19 and growing US political divisions.”
But the rest of them had to do with Russia. Thus, YouTube terminated three channels that uploaded content about US events, but also about the rallies of Alexei Navalny’s supporters.
Two other were uploading videos about events in Ukraine, Afghanistan and Armenia, while other five came with videos on the Syrian civil war and the annexation of Crimea, by Russia.
The action hit the Russian opposition
Most of the accounts blocked in Russia came with videos that showed Kremlin’s attempts to influence public opinion in the country.
Thus, the decision might seem to favour president Vladimir Putin, who is bothered by Navalny’s influence. However, most of the Russian’s opposition movies are still online, on the video platform.
But YouTube’s decisions also affected channels and accounts that belonged to governments and their proxies. Those were from Ukraine, Kyrgystan, Brazil, Morocco and Egypt, as Google considered them as parts of coordinated influence operations.
Still, Google’s video platform new decision might seem both legitimate and oppressive. On the one hand, the giant called the influence operations as the main reason. But its actions might raise discontent, as it seems to be, itself, a coordinated influence operation.
You may find the entire report, here.