YouTube disables over 200 accounts amid protests in Hong Kong

Google announced Thursday that it had taken down 210 YouTube channels as part of the company's effort to counter Chinese-backed groups trying to undermine the recent pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

The channels were removed after Google determined that they "behaved in a coordinated manner while uploading videos related to the ongoing protests in Hong Kong," the company said in a post.

Google said the "discovery was consistent" with Twitter and Facebook's identification Wednesday of similar China-backed disinformation campaigns.

Twitter found 936 accounts displaying "deliberately and specifically attempting to sow political discord in Hong Kong."

The platform will no longer accept advertising from state-controlled media outlets, specifically those that are either financially or editorially controlled by a nation-state.

Facebook removed removed seven pages, three groups, and five accounts that more 15,000 users were estimated to follow.

Hong Kong has been wracked with protests for months which started in opposition to a bill that would allow criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China.

The semi-autonomous city's chief executive Carrie Lam suspended the bill, but that has failed to stem the protests, with many locals expressing fear it could be revived and expand China's control over the city.

The city was guaranteed a legal system independent of Beijing when it was transferred from British rule under a "one country, two systems" order.

China's disinformation campaign across multiple social media platforms, all of which are banned on the mainland, has prompted concern from U.S. lawmakers from both parties.


"Twitter and Facebook acted appropriately in quickly discovering a substantial disinformation operation linked to China targeting protestors in Hong Kong, disclosing the activity and accounts to the public and removing those networks from their platforms," House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said in a statement to The Hill prior to Google's announcement. 


"We know from experience that social media platforms can be powerful engines for spreading false information online with real world consequences," Schiff added.