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Home / Technology / Google took down 39 YouTube channels linked to Iranian impact campaign

Google took down 39 YouTube channels linked to Iranian impact campaign



Google today announced details of its ongoing efforts to combat campaign-induced campaigns from foreign authorities and other forms of election interference. The company outlines the recent ban on 39 YouTube accounts linked to the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting. Google's announcement comes on the heels of Facebook's permission earlier this week that it identified and deleted more than 600 accounts linked to both Iran and Russia as coordinated impact campaigns on the platform by posting politically charged content.

Kent Walker, Google's Senior Executive Director of Global Affairs, said that Google's Threat Analysis Group worked with the Trust & Safety team and the Jigsaw Department, its political tank-tank-turned ideology focused on cyber attacks and other geopolitical problems to identify Iranian impact campaign .

They did it with the help of FireEye, an independent cyber security consultant who first revealed information about Iran's campaign against American social media earlier this week. In addition to the United States, Iran seems to be targeting citizens in Britain, Latin America and elsewhere in the Middle East, according to FireEye. The company's full report on this specific Iranian influence operation was also published today. FireEye was instrumental in helping both Facebook and Twitter identify Iran and Russia's linked state sponsored accounts that were banned earlier this week.

According to Walker, Google collects evidence that linked the operators to 39 YouTube accounts ̵

1; as well as six blogs on their own publishing platform Blogger and 13 Google+ accounts – to IRIB. YouTube accounts generated just over 13,000 views. Although Google says that it can not share concrete evidence with the public because it works closely with law enforcement, it describes the information that links these operations to Iran as related to domain ownership and account metadata. Google states that the operation has been launched since January 2017.

In addition to the Iran-related social media impact campaigns, Google also discovers state-supported phishing attacks against political campaigns, journalists, activists and academics, not just in the United States, but globally. Walker says that Google's automated systems help reduce the volume of phishing attacks that ever make it an unsuspecting user's Gmail inbox. Earlier this week, Google sent a notice to the security blog's discussion about state-aid phishing attacks. The company says that it also regularly notifies users and law enforcement about suspicious emails that appear to be part of a coordinated campaign.

Walker also outlined efforts by the Russian government Internet Research Agency (IRA), one of the primary misinformation peddlers on Facebook who also engaged in the spread of misinformation on Google-owned websites last year as part of a broader election campaign.

"Since then, we have continued to monitor our systems and expand the scope of IRA-related actors against whom we've been doing," Walker writes. "We have specifically discovered and removed 42 YouTube channels, which had 58 English-language political videos (these videos had a total of less than 1800 U.S. views). We also identified and canceled the account associated with a blogger on Blogger." [19659009]
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