YouTube blocks 'Chinese influence operation' related to Hong Kong protests

22 August 2019, 22:35 | Updated: 23 August 2019, 09:19

YouTube has disabled 210 channels appearing to engage in a coordinated influence operation around the Hong Kong protests, days after similar campaigns on Twitter and Facebook were dismantled.

Shane Huntley, a security leader at Google - which owns the video streaming platform - said the discovery of the channels was "consistent with recent observations and actions related to China announced by Facebook and Twitter".

The social media sites removed accounts on Monday that they said had engaged in a state-backed campaign to undermine demonstrations in Hong Kong.

Protests began in June as opposition to a bill which would have allowed suspects to be extradited to mainland China for trial.

The bill has since been suspended but protests have continued to swell into wider calls for democracy.

China's government has banned Twitter, Facebook and YouTube in the mainland but the platforms are available in Hong Kong.

Users have hit out at the three firms for showing adverts from state-controlled media such as China Central Television (CCTV) that criticised demonstrators.

Twitter has since said it will no longer accept advertising from state-controlled news outlets.

Facebook and YouTube said they did not have any plans to modify their policies on adverts.

Some Twitter and Reddit users from Hong Kong have been sharing screenshots showing anti-protest CCTV adverts appearing on YouTube.

The streaming site said it would be expanding its labelling of China-backed outlets but did not give any further details.

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YouTube currently places a disclaimer on content from government-funded stations including CCTV, Xinhua and CGTN but does not include one for content from Chinese newspapers like the People's Daily, Global Times and China Daily.