Google shuts down YouTube channels in expansion of state-directed online censorship
25 August 2018
In a further expansion of state-directed Internet censorship, Google announced Thursday that it had deleted 58 accounts from its social media platforms YouTube, Blogger and Google+. The technology monopoly claimed, without meaningful substantiation, that the accounts it removed were part of a worldwide effort by “bad actors,” “influence operations” and “state-sponsored hacking” linked with the Iranian government.
In a safety and security blog post, Google executive Kent Walker wrote that 39 YouTube channels, 6 blogs on Blogger and 13 Google+ accounts were identified and removed due to their supposed connection with Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), the primary Iranian media organization with close ties to the country’s Supreme Leader.
Walker provided no detailed facts supporting the claims of Iranian influenced social media activity. Instead, he wrote: “We can’t go into all the technical details without giving away information that would be helpful to others seeking to abuse our platforms …”
Much of the information used by Google as the basis of its assertion that the Iranian government was behind the accounts was provided by FireEye, a cyber-security firm managed by former military intelligence officers with close ties to Wall Street and the US State Department.
On August 21, FireEye released a report that has been used to bolster a series of censorship moves, first by Facebook and Twitter and now Google, over the past week. The title of the report, “Suspected Iranian Influence Operation,” shows that the new campaign against “coordinated inauthentic activity” is following the pattern of the previous “Russian…