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Hong Kong: Twitter, Facebook and Youtube crack down on alleged disinformation campaign linked to ongoing protests

Twitter, Facebook and Youtube have all taken actions to crack down on an alleged disinformation campaign that was said to be originating in China and spread disinformation about the ongoing anti-government protests in Hong Kong.

Twitter announced on 19 August that it had suspended 936 accounts originating from within China that “were deliberately and specifically attempting to sow political discord in Hong Kong, including undermining the legitimacy and political positions of the protest movement on the ground.”

Facebook said on 19 August that it had removed seven pages, three groups and five accounts linked to “coordinated inauthentic behavior” on the Hong Kong protests.

Google said on 23 August that it had disabled 210 Youtube channels for uploading videos in a “coordinated manner” about the ongoing protests in Hong Kong.

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Article
1 September 2019

China’s disinformation on Hong Kong protests is on Twitter and Facebook

Author: Tripti Lahiri, Quartz

… Twitter… said it had found “a significant state-backed information operation focused on the situation in Hong Kong, specifically the protest movement.” It’s suspended 936 accounts originating from within China that “were deliberately and specifically attempting to sow political discord in Hong Kong, including undermining the legitimacy and political positions of the protest movement on the ground.” It also created an archive of the accounts for further research.

Twitter’s announcement came after a thread from Maciej Cegłowski, the outspoken developer behind the @Pinboard Twitter account, as well as news reports, which flagged promoted messages from Chinese state-run news media such as Xinhua showing up in users’ feeds. Twitter is blocked in China, but the platform said that some of the accounts were using unblocked IP addresses originating in mainland China.

Twitter also said it was updating its advertising policies to stop taking ads from state-controlled news media; the policy will not apply to publicly funded but independent news broadcasters…

Facebook also announced… that it had removed seven pages, three groups, and five accounts linked to “coordinated inauthentic behavior” on the Hong Kong protests…

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Article
1 September 2019

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

Author: Simone McCarthy, South China Morning Post (Hong Kong)

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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Article
1 September 2019

Google shuts down 210 Youtube channels posting ‘coordinated’ disinformation about Hong Kong protests

Author: Anthony Cuthbertson, Independent (UK)

Google has removed hundreds of YouTube channels for uploading videos in a “coordinated manner” about the ongoing protests in Hong Kong. The technology giant said 210 channels were disabled in order to protect the integrity of its platform, pointing to Chinese attempts to spread disinformation and manipulate the pro-democracy protests.

The move comes just days after Facebook and Twitter removed accounts linked to China that were being used to undermine the protests.

“Earlier this week, as part of our ongoing efforts to combat coordinated influence operations, we disabled 210 channels on YouTube when we discovered channels in this network behaved in a coordinated manner while uploading videos relating to the ongoing protests in Hong Kong,” Google said in a statement.

“This discovery was consistent with recent observations and actions related to China announced by Facebook and Twitter.”…

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Article
1 September 2019

Twitter cracks down on state media after unveiling Chinese campaign against Hong Kong protesters

Author: CNN

Twitter will no longer accept advertisements from state-controlled media outlets, the company announced… 

"We want to protect healthy discourse and open conversation," Twitter said in a statement posted on its website.

Twitter said the new policy would only apply to "news media entities that are either financially or editorially controlled by the state." While state media cannot pay for advertisements that would amplify their message, they will be allowed to continue posting on the platform. Twitter said the new restrictions do not apply to outlets funded by taxpayers, or independent public broadcasters.

The new policy was announced shortly after Twitter said it had identified a network of more than 900 accounts originating in China that "were deliberately and specifically attempting to sow political discord in Hong Kong, including undermining the legitimacy and political positions of the protest movement."…

It also came after BuzzFeed News and others reported that media outlets in China, most of which are funded by the state and tightly controlled by authorities in Beijing, had been buying advertisements on Facebook and Twitter that portrayed the protests negatively... 

... Geng Shuang, a spokesman for China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told reporters that "people will have their own judgments about what is happening in Hong Kong, and what the truth is."

"I think it is reasonable that Chinese media use overseas social media to communicate with local people, to tell stories about China, to introduce Chinese policies," he said… [Also referred to Facebook]

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