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Google shuts down 50,000 accounts spreading Chinese disinformation

Google’s threat analysis team has shut down tens of thousands of accounts linked to a group known as “Dragonbridge” or “Spamouflage Dragon” that spread pro-Chinese disinformation across multiple online platforms. According to Google, Dragonbridge is acquiring new Google Accounts from mass account sellers, and in some cases they have even moved to accounts that were previously redesigned to post disinformation videos and blogs by actors acting for financial purposes.

Last year, the company removed more than 50,000 accounts used by Dragonbridge on its platforms, including YouTube, Blogger and AdSense. A total of 100,960 accounts have been shut down since the network of influence was discovered. This shows Google’s focus on this coordinated information operation regarding China, which has been described as “the most productive TAG path of the IO actor”.

However, despite the large size of the Chinese influence operation and large volumes of content production, there is minimal actual audience engagement. For example, the vast majority of YouTube channels had no subscribers when it was shut down last year, and more than 80% of the videos had less than 100 views. Dragonbridge blogs on Blogger also had very low engagement with less than 10 views on about 95% of posts when they were shut down in December.

“Most of DRAGONBRIDGE’s activities are low-quality, non-political content distributed over multiple channels and blogs. However, few DRAGONBRIDGE accounts also post about current events with messages supporting pro-Chinese views.” — Zach Butler and Jonas Tege of Google TAG.

“The vast majority of DRAGONBRIDGE content destroyed by Google in 2022 never reached a real audience. Of the 53,177 channels we deactivated in 2022, 58% had zero subscribers and 42% of their videos had zero views. 83% of these videos were 100 Less than .

Dragonbridge YouTube channel views

Despite the lack of real audience participation, the pro-Chinese disinformation operation shows persistence and compliance. Watched by Google TAG analysts since 2019, the group constantly changed tactics, trying new formats and higher quality content. This shows that there is still a risk that the group’s activities will eventually fall under the radar of real users and possibly increase the overall impact of its content criticizing the US and promoting pro-Chinese messages.

“Despite failing to capture an authentic audience, DRAGONBRIDGE produces massive volumes of content across multiple platforms, persisting and continuing to experiment with its tactics and techniques,” Google said. “Therefore, we have stepped up our efforts to prevent coordinated, unrealistic DRAGONBRIDGE activity across our platforms.”

Source: Port Altele



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