Google Shuts Down Misinformation

Google, one of the world’s largest technology companies and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Alphabet, took an important step in combating misinformation among its products by investing $6.5 million in the fight against fake news.

The takedowns are the latest developmnet in the  battle between Google and a campaign it has named “Dragonbridge”  in which Google's Threat Analysis Group (TAG) has terminated thousands of accounts which were linked to a pro-Chinese group that spread disinformation across social media.

To date, TAG has deleted more than 50,000 fake news stories and other content posted by the Chinese  'Dragonbridge' gang promoting pro-China disinformation in 2022 that focused on Taiwan, COVID-19 and US politics. 

Dragonbridge ran disinformation campaigns across Google-owned platforms YouTube, Blogger and AdSense. In 2022, TAG took down more than 50,000 accounts used by Dragonbridge across its platforms. In total, 100,960 accounts have been shut down since the influence network was first spotted.

According to Google, the group known as Dragonbridge gets new Google Accounts from bulk account sellers, and, in some instances, they’ve even switched to accounts previously used by financially motivated actors repurposed for posting disinformation videos and blogs.

The investment  pf $6.5 million toward fighting the spread of misinformation around the coronavirus pandemic and the will support fact-checkers, news organisations and non-profit organisations around the world. The money will also help certain news outlets expose and track misinformation about Covid-19.

“Most Dragonbridge activity is low quality content without a political message, populated across many channels and blogs. However, a small fraction of Dragonbridge accounts also post about current events with messaging that pushes pro-China views,” TAG representatives told reporters. “In 2022, the overwhelming majority of Dragonbridge content Google disrupted never reached a real audience. Among the 53,177 channels we disabled in 2022, 58% had zero subscribers and 42% of their videos had zero views. 83% of those videos had fewer than 100 views.”

Despite its lack of engagement from authentic viewers, the Dragonbridgedisinformation operation is exhibiting persistence and adaptability.

The group, which has been monitored by Google TAG analysts since 2019, has consistently switched tactics and experimented with new formats and higher-quality content, showing that there is still a risk that the group’s activity will eventually land on the radars of real users, which would likely boost the overall impact of its content criticising the US and pushing pro-China messages.

While Dragonbridge is the most prolific, it's not the only information-operations group that TAG tracks. In its fourth-quarter bulletin published recently, the threat hunters reported that they also took down more than 1,600 YouTube channels, Blogger blogs and AdSense accounts linked to Russia, Iran, Brazil, Azerbaijan and other countries between October and December 2022.

Google have also said in their TAG Bulletin, “We terminated 76 YouTube channels as part of our investigation into coordinated influence operations linked to Brazil. The campaign was sharing content in Brazilian Portuguese that was supportive of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro... The campaign was linked to the Internet Research Agency (IRA) and was sharing content in Russian that was supportive of Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin and critical of Ukraine and the West.”

Google:      New America:     I-HLS:    The Hill:     The Record;    The Register:     

Understanding Fake News:

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