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Crackdown on Chinese accounts shows US social media giants becoming ‘more proactive’

Author: Simone McCarthy, South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), Published on: 1 September 2019

The swift crackdown on an alleged disinformation campaign linked to Hong Kong’s anti-government protests shows social media platforms Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are becoming more proactive about dismantling influence operations, according to analysts…

Pressure from the United States, the European Council and others to root out political disinformation, and the release of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report in April… had pushed the platforms to do more to monitor politically motivated and state-sponsored activities, they said.

“We haven’t seen this kind of speed and coordination before [from the platforms], it’s always been dragging and kicking social media companies to do something – here they seem to have been more proactive. The explanation has to be more than technical, and it has to be more than geopolitical,” said David Fidler, adjunct senior fellow for cybersecurity at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York…

… Twitter suspended 936 accounts and Facebook closed five accounts, seven pages and three groups.

YouTube’s parent company Google… said it had disabled 210 channels for “coordinated” uploads of videos relating to the Hong Kong protests…

Statements from Facebook and Google also noted coordination between the companies in their investigations. Facebook confirmed it had acted on a tip from Twitter, while Google confirmed exchanging information with “industry partners” when investigating threats.

That level of coordination was indicative of how the companies had “scaled up” their investment around security and detection of platform manipulation… according to Jake Wallis, senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s International Cyber Policy Centre…

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Related companies: Facebook Google (part of Alphabet) Twitter YouTube (part of Alphabet)