Google said on Thursday that it had disabled more than 200 channels from video platform YouTube that appeared to be conducting “coordinated influence operations” related to the Hong Kong protests, just days after Facebook and Twitter took down similar disinformation campaigns.
Earlier this week, Facebook and Twitter moved to curb what they said was a Chinese state-backed disinformation campaign that targeted pro-democracy Hong Kong protesters. This marked the first time the social media groups had linked covert propaganda operations on their platforms to Beijing, prompting accusations of censorship from some authorities in China.
On Thursday, Google said it too had taken down 210 YouTube channels after finding the network had “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 said in a blog post, adding that those who uploaded the videos used virtual private networks, or VPNs, as well as other methods to disguise their location.
The takedowns come after weeks of demonstrations by anti-government protesters in Hong Kong sparked the Asian financial hub’s biggest political crisis in decades.
YouTube, together with Twitter and Facebook, has come under pressure this week to stop hosting adverts paid for by Chinese state-run media, after several appeared to spread misinformation about the Hong Kong protesters.
While Twitter said it would no longer accept advertising from “state-controlled news media entities”, apart from taxpayer-funded groups, YouTube did not address the issue in its statement or respond to a request for comment.