On Thursday Google announced that it had shut down 210 YouTube channels which seemed undermined the ongoing protests in Hong Kong. This comes three days after Twitter and Facebook reported pulling down accounts that posted similar controversial content.
Ever since the extradition bill was proposed by the government of Hong Kong, protests have never ceased. If the bill was passed, Hongkongers feared they would be under Chinese jurisdiction thus sparking protests in the region.
What started as a mere movement against the controversial law has spiraled into mass demonstrations with protesters demanding not only for the cancellation of the bill but also for greater democracy.
According to these social media giants, content posted by the suspicious accounts aimed to demoralize the pro-democracy protesters by disguising as either independent entities or news companies. On further investigation, Twitter and Facebook had established that the accounts had links to the Chinese Government.
Twitter had announced earlier on Monday the shutting down of more than 900 accounts that had links to China. The accounts were reported to perpetuate conflict through condemning the protests while discouraging the protesters’ political stand.
Some accounts went a notch higher and compared the protesters to Islamic State terrorists and cockroaches, which compelled Twitter to enact a new policy that bars advertisements from state-controlled media outlets. The policy only applies to news companies that are either financially or editorially controlled by the state.
In a blog post on maintaining its integrity, Google confirmed that their research on the 210 misleading channels were in line with Twitter and Facebook’s findings.
According to Shane Huntley from Google’s Threat Analysis Group, ‘The accounts used VPN and other techniques to hide their origin.’
Google further assured its users that it will continue to protect their security and privacy against attackers who tried to place unjustifiable demands on their accounts even if the perpetrator was the government.
Finally, Google announced the expansion of Advanced Protection Program to Chrome, which will protect users when they download files online.
It is through such technological advancement that the company promises to identify activities that go against universal and internationally accepted human rights, deleting their accounts and reporting to relevant bodies in a bid to secure their client’s privacy.