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Google removes YouTube channels linked to Iran

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Susan Wojcicki
YouTube CEO Susan
Wojcicki

Justin Sullivan / Getty
Staff


  • 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 nearly 100 YouTube channels that are accused of
being connected to attempts by Russia and Iran to spread
misinformation, 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 a total of 13,466 views.
  

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. 

Get the latest Google stock price here.

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