VPNs are often used to bypass China’s Great Firewall but Google recently banned 210 YouTube channels after it discovered that Chinese state authorities were suspected of using them to spread misinformation about Hong Kong protesters on its platform.
The search giant’s announcement comes after Twitter and Facebook said they would suspend almost 1,000 accounts on their respective platforms that were linked to a state-backed disinformation campaign which originated inside China.
The news also comes at a time when Google and its video platform are facing increased scrutiny from US lawmakers regarding its ability to control misinformation that spreads by going viral on its site.
Director of Google Security’s Threat Analysis Group, Shane Huntely offered further insight on the disinformation campaign the search giant discovered in a blog post, saying:
“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 related to the ongoing protests in Hong Kong. This discovery was consistent with recent observations and actions related to China announced by Facebook and Twitter.
“We found use of VPNs and other methods to disguise the origin of these accounts and other activity commonly associated with coordinated influence operations.”
While a VPN can be a useful tool for those trying to get around region blocks or protect their online privacy, it can also be used nefariously by those who want to disguise the origin of their posts online.