Google said it took down ten influence operation campaigns in Q2 2020

Google said the influence ops were traced back to China, Russia, Iran, and Tunisia.
Written by Catalin Cimpanu, Contributor

Google has published today the second edition of its TAG Bulletin, a report that details all the coordinated influence operation campaigns that have been discovered taking place on Google-owned platform.

The report was authored by the Google Threat Analysis Group (TAG), a division inside Google's security department that tracks nation-state and high-end cybercrime groups, and was compiled based on Google's own investigations, but also tips and reports received from third-parties, such as social media analysis firm Graphika, cyber-security firm FireEye, the Atlantic Council investigation unit, and other social networks.

The latest TAG Bulletin covers influence ops takedowns that have taken place in the second quarter of this year, between April and June 2020.

Per Google, this quarter, the company had shut down multiple influence operation campaigns ran out of Russia, China, Iran, and Tunisia.

In total, Google said it tracked ten influence operations in Q2 2020, with some also taking place and being exposed by Twitter and Facebook as well. A summary of all is below.


Campaign #1

  • 16 YouTube channels, 1 advertising account and 1 AdSense account
  • Linked to the Iranian state-sponsored International Union of Virtual Media (IUVM) network
  • Network posted content in Arabic related to the US' response to COVID-19 and US' relationship with Iran.

Campaign #2

  • 15 YouTube channels and 3 blogs
  • Linked to Russia
  • Posted content in English and Russian about the EU, Lithuania, Ukraine, and the US
  • Content was similar to a years-long operation called Secondary Infektion

Campaign #3

  • 7 YouTube channels
  • Linked to Russia
  • Posted content in Russian, German, and Farsi about Russian and Syrian politics and the U.S. response to COVID-19

Campaign #4

  • 186 YouTube channel
  • Linked to China
  • Most accounts uploaded spammy, non-political content
  • A small subset posted political content primarily in Chinese, criticizing the US' response to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • More in this Graphika report

Campaign #5

  • 3 YouTube channels
  • Linked to Iran
  • Posted content in Bosnian and Arabic that was critical of the U.S. and the People's Mujahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), a militant organization fighting against the official Iranian government


Campaign #6

  • 1,098 YouTube channels
  • Linked to China
  • Connected/same as campaign #4

Campaign #7

  • 47 YouTube channels and 1 AdSense account
  • Linked to Russia
  • Posted content in a coordinated manner primarily in Russian about domestic Russian and international policy issues


Campaign #8

  • 1,312 YouTube channels
  • Linked to China
  • Connected/same as campaign #4 and #7

Campaign #9

  • 17 YouTube channels
  • Linked to Russia
  • Posted comments in Russian in a coordinated manner under a small set of Russian language videos

Campaign #10

  • 3 Google Play developers and 1 advertising account
  • Linked to Tunisian PR company Ureputation
  • Posted news content in English and French, targeting audiences in Africa
  • More in this DFRLab report

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