The US-China trade war has started rearing its ugly head. Both sides are now turning to extreme measures on the digital front to get back at each other. After a Chinese firm was reported to be filing a patent infringement lawsuit Apple Inc, a new strike-back from the U.S is making the headlines today!
The Alphabet-owned tech giant Google has revealed that they have recently deleted a whopping 2500 YouTube channels that were allegedly tied to China.
According to Google, this action was carried out in order to strip away misleading disinformation from the popular video-sharing platform. All these channels received the axe from anywhere between April and June as part of the tech giant’s ongoing investigation into ‘coordinated influence operations linked to China.’
Generally, these Chinese channels were observed to be posting content that was spammy but non-political. However, a small subset of them did touch on political subjects according to the company’s statement in a quarterly bulletin on disinformation operations.
Currently, no information regarding the specific channels has been provided by Google. Nonetheless, they did, however, provided some few details which link to the videos that were being posted by the now taken down channels to a similar disinformation campaign being carried out on Twitter in the month of April.
As of now, there have been no comments on this matter from the Chinese Embassy in the U.S. However, it should be noted that Beijing, in the past, has denied several allegations of spreading disinformation in foreign countries.
Disinformation Dispute To Further Divide The US-China Relationship?
By now it is well known that the US-China relationship is currently at a very fragile state. Multiple reasons such as the global COVID-19 pandemic, China building its military camp in the South China Sea, their increasing control over Hong Kong and so on have contributed very heavily to the divide. Now, it begs the question if this particular disinformation allegation against China will further add to the already tumultuous situation amid two countries.
Yesterday, the White House, in a statement, announced that they were going to be upping the ante against all ‘untrusted’ Chinese apps and purge them from the US digital networks. They also called Chinese origin apps TikTok and WeChat ‘significant threats’.
A campaign called ‘Clean Network’ has been started by the U.S Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wherein he mentioned he will be focusing on including various steps to prevent Chinese apps along with Chinese telecoms companies from accessing sensitive information on American citizens and businesses.
In a response to it, the foreign minister of China Wang Yi, in an interview with state news agency Xinhua accused that Pompeo is trying to create newer and more divisions among their countries and called the actions being taken against TikTok in the U.s ‘a textbook case of bullying.’
He also added that the United Stated clearly aims to monopolize its position in technology by rob other countries of their right to develop and deploy their own technological products in other countries.
Since the 2016 presidential election, foreign actors seeding disinformation in the U.S has emerged as a burning threat for both American politicians and technology companies alike.
Everyone is aware of how the Russian government-linked actors leveraged the social media ecosystem to pump hundreds of thousands of deceptive messages which ended up influencing the 2016 elections wherein Trump was elected president.
Tech giants such as Google and Facebook surely do not want that incident to be repeated by any other country this time and thus they are aiming to combat online propaganda in every way possible. They also issue updates on how they are doing it on a regular basis on public forums so that they can be as transparent as they can.
Now it remains to be seen how China responds to this particular counter-punch by Google. We will keep you updated on all future developments. Until then, stay tuned.