Google Bans Dozens of Iran-Tied YouTube Channels

Move follows Facebook and Twitter removing hundreds of Iranian trolls earlier in the week

Google has deleted dozens of accounts tied to Iranian state media from YouTube and its other platforms, the company announced on Thursday, signaling the latest attempt by foreign adversaries to spread fake news in the U.S.

The removed accounts were all linked to the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, Kent Baker, Google’s senior VP of global affairs, said in a blog post. The channels “disguised their connection” to the Ayatollah-backed media outlet while pushing content aiming to sow political dissent.

Altogether, 39 channels were booted from YouTube, along with 13 accounts from Google Plus, its social networking site, and six from Blogger. Another 42 channels tied to the Kremlin-sponsored Internet Research Agency have been banned since last fall when Google testified before Congress, the company said on Thursday.

“In recent months, we’ve detected and blocked attempts by state-sponsored actors in various countries to target political campaigns, journalists, activists, and academics located around the world,” added Baker.

The announcement comes two days after Facebook shared that it banned hundreds of accounts associated with “Liberty Front Press,” another Iranian-funded misinformation campaign. Twitter suspended 284 accounts that it believed came from Iran for “coordinated manipulation” on Tuesday.

Google said in the blog post that it received a tip from FireEye, the same cybersecurity firm that alerted Facebook to its own Iranian bad actors.

Facebook, Google, and Twitter have vowed to be more proactive in fighting fake news ahead of the 2018 U.S. midterm elections. After facing heavy criticism for their inability to stop Russian trolls during the 2016 presidential race, the companies have adopted more stringent advertising policies and beefed up their moderator teams. However, according to Alex Stamos, Facebook’s former head of security, the efforts are still “too late” to prevent foreign interference this year.