- Acting on a tip from web security firm FireEye, Google pulled down 39 YouTube channels it said were connected to Iran or Russia, according to a blog post by Kent Walker, Google’s chief of global affairs.
- Google said that the channels booted from the video-sharing site were connected to Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), or those with ties to Russia’s government.
- Google’s moves come a day after Facebook suspended hundreds of accounts across the social networking site and its photo-sharing app, Instagram, for the same reason.
- Big tech companies have been asked to safeguard their sites from foreign agents who have used them in attempts to spread false information and sway elections.
Google has banned more than 80 YouTube channels that are accused of being connected to attempts by Russia and Iran to spread misinformation in the United States, the company said in a blog post on Thursday.
Kent Walker, Google’s senior vice president for global affairs, wrote that 39 channels with ties to Iran and 42 connected to Russia were booted from the video-sharing service.
“We’ve updated U.S. lawmakers and law enforcement about the results of our investigation,” Walker said in his post, “including its relation to political content in the United States.”
The large tech companies have been under pressure to safeguard their sites from future attempts by foreign agents to mislead the public, cause chaos or sway elections. It is believed that Russia used the big social networks to try and affect the 2016 US presidential election.
While all this sounds scary, the sites hardly seemed very influential. Walker wrote that the total number of views acquired by the 42 Russian-connected channels was 1,800. The videos available on the IRIB-linked channels acquired a total of 13,466 views. Videos posted to YouTube by news groups, such as CNN and Fox, frequently accumulate views in the hundreds of thousands.
The news about the purged channels comes a day after Facebook announced that it had suspended hundreds of accounts it said were linked to the governments of Russia and Iran.
Both Google and Facebook were acting on information supplied by web security company, FireEye. According to Walker’s post, some of the sites removed from YouTube were connected to the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB). Others were linked to the Internet Research Agency, allegedly a front for Russia’s web trolls.
After receiving the tipoff from FireEye, Walker said Google launched its own investigation.
Microsoft earlier this week warned that Russia was trying to spoof key web sites in a possible attempt to hack visitors to those sites.