SAN FRANCISCO — Google has removed dozens of YouTube channels it says are linked to an influence operation run by Iran's state broadcaster.
The disclosure comes just days after Facebook, Instagram and Twitter purged hundreds of accounts that originated in Iran that were spreading disinformation in the United States and abroad.
In all, Google says it shut down 58 accounts on its video service YouTube and other sites. Each of the accounts had ties to the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, or IRIB, according to Kent Walker, Google’s senior vice president for global affairs.
"We identified and terminated a number of accounts linked to the IRIB organization that disguised their connection to this effort, including while sharing English-language political content in the U.S.," Walker wrote in a blog post.
Google removed 39 channels on YouTube, which had more than 13,000 views in the United States, 13 accounts on the social networking service Google Plus and six accounts on blogging service Blogger, the company said.
Google also said it took down 42 additional channels on YouTube linked to the Internet Research Agency, which has ties to the Kremlin.
Cybersecurity firm FireEye tipped off Google, which says it has briefed law enforcement officials and shared its findings with lawmakers.
This week, Facebook disclosed it had uncovered a network operated by Iranian state media and removed 652 pages, groups and accounts for "coordinated inauthentic behavior" on Facebook and Instagram.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg hinted more revelations of nation-state disinformation campaigns may come to light in coming months. "I think it's safe to say we have a number of investigations going on, and we'll update you when we know more," he said.
Twitter said it removed 284 accounts for engaging in “coordinated manipulation.” The accounts in question also appeared to originate from Iran. Microsoft disclosed it had foiled a Russian military intelligence-backed effort to hack visitors of the websites of conservative think tanks which had broken with President Donald Trump and were advocating tougher policies with Russia.
A 2018 report from the Oxford Internet Institute found disinformation campaigns on social media in 48 countries, up from 28 in 2017, despite efforts to combat the spread of false information.
Lawmakers plan to question executives from Facebook, Google and Twitter at a hearing next month.
In his blog post, Walker said Google recently took similar actions to block state-sponsored actors from targeting political campaigns, journalists, activists and academics around the world and notified Gmail users who had received suspicious emails from a "wide range" of countries.