Google Takes Down 50,000 Situations of Professional-Chinese language DRAGONBRIDGE Affect Operation

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Jan 26, 2023Ravie LakshmananRisk Evaluation

Google on Thursday disclosed it took steps to dismantle over 50,000 situations of exercise orchestrated by a pro-Chinese language affect operation often called DRAGONBRIDGE in 2022.

“Most DRAGONBRIDGE exercise is low high quality content material with no political message, populated throughout many channels and blogs,” the corporate’s Risk Evaluation Group (TAG) said in a report shared with The Hacker Information. “Nevertheless, a small fraction of DRAGONBRIDGE accounts additionally submit about present occasions with messaging that pushes pro-China speaking factors.”

DRAGONBRIDGE was first uncovered by Google-owned Mandiant in July 2022, calling out its unsuccessful efforts in focusing on uncommon earth mining firms in Australia, Canada, and the U.S. with the objective of triggering environmental protests towards the corporations.

Additionally identified by the identify Spamouflage Dragon, the spammy affect community is understood to have a presence throughout a number of platforms, together with YouTube, Blogger, Fb, and Twitter, primarily disseminating narratives crucial of the U.S. and favorable of China.

A number of the narratives embody claims that the U.S. was interfering within the home affairs of different nations, whereas additionally highlighting themes of political discord, racial inequality, and inflation in an try to indicate the nation in a unfavourable gentle.

The criticism of the U.S. however, DRAGONBRIDGE’s pro-China content material options narratives praising the nation’s COVID-19 pandemic response, condemning pro-democracy protests, and intensifying assist for the unification of Taiwan with China.

As a part of its efforts to disrupt the risk actor’s exercise, Google mentioned it terminated 100,960 accounts throughout YouTube, Blogger, and AdSense. It additional famous that regardless of the profuse content material manufacturing, DRAGONBRIDGE failed to draw an natural viewers.

That, nevertheless, hasn’t stopped the group from persistently tweaking its strategies by creating animated political cartoons and producing greater high quality content material with the intention to lure actual customers, TAG researchers cautioned.

In all, 56,771 YouTube channels created by DRAGONBRIDGE had been disabled in 2022, with 58% of them having zero subscribers and 42% of the movies posted in these channels having zero views. On prime of that, roughly 95% of the Blogger blogs obtained 10 or lesser views.

“Within the uncommon circumstances the place DRAGONBRIDGE content material did obtain engagement, it was nearly completely inauthentic, coming from different DRAGONBRIDGE accounts and never from real customers,” TAG mentioned. “Remark exercise was principally from different DRAGONBRIDGE accounts.”

The coordinated inauthentic conduct is facilitated by leveraging Google Accounts bought in bulk from account sellers who create and promote such accounts for revenue, in some circumstances even reusing dormant accounts that had been beforehand utilized by different actors for mounting financially motivated campaigns.

“Regardless of their failure to achieve traction with an genuine viewers, DRAGONBRIDGE generates excessive volumes of content material throughout a number of platforms, is persistent and continues to experiment of their ways and methods,” TAG mentioned.

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