Google deletes accounts tied to Iranian influence operation
Google said on Thursday that it has removed 58 accounts linked to Iranian misinformation efforts across its platforms like YouTube, Blogger and Google Plus.
The search giant’s disclosure of Iranian accounts attempting to influence foreign politics on its platforms is the third such announcement this week after Facebook and Twitter also deleted Iranian accounts from their sites.
Google booted 39 accounts from YouTube, six from Blogger and 13 from Google Plus.
Kent Walker, the company’s senior vice president of global affairs explained in a blog post that the accounts were linked to the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), which is linked to Iran’s ayatollah, but noted that the accounts had “disguised their connection to this effort.”
“Actors engaged in this type of influence operation violate our policies, and we swiftly remove such content from our services and terminate these actors’ accounts,” Walker said in the post.
Google’s actions come just days after Facebook and Twitter both removed hundreds of Iranian accounts on their platforms that they found to be linked to efforts to influence global political issues.
Google said that it worked with the cybersecurity firm FireEye to detect and ultimately remove several of the accounts. FireEye also worked with Facebook in helping it spot and take action on its most recent batch of accounts it linked to foreign misinformation campaigns.
The company said it has briefed U.S. lawmakers and law enforcement on its investigation of the accounts and misinformation efforts.
It believes that the IRIB’s efforts have occurred since at least January 2017.
Walker, alongside Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey, is set to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Sept. 5 to testify on how foreign actors have tried to manipulate their platforms to spread misinformation and influence other countries’ politics.