The Latest: Google acts against Iranian influence operation
NEW YORK (AP) — The Latest on tech companies and election interference (all times local):
Google says it has disabled dozens of YouTube channels and other Google accounts linked to a state-run Iranian broadcaster for a political influence campaign.
The company said Thursday that it disabled 39 YouTube channels, as well as six blogs on Blogger and 13 Google Plus accounts. Some of them were sharing English-language political material in the United States.
The security firm FireEye says the overall operation originates from Iran but is aimed at audiences in the U.S. and elsewhere to promote Iranian interests.
Google says its own forensic research shows the accounts were set up by actors associated with the state-run Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, or IRIB.
The broadcaster didn’t immediately respond to an emailed request for comment Thursday.
Tech companies want to protect U.S. political candidates from Russian hackers ahead of the midterm elections, but could that free help count as an illegal campaign contribution?
That’s the question Microsoft asked the Federal Election Commission this week.
The company is requesting the FEC’s advisory opinion to make sure Microsoft’s new free package of online account security protections for “election-sensitive” customers doesn’t count as in-kind campaign contributions.
Microsoft says it’s offering its AccountGuard service on a nonpartisan basis to candidates, party committees and certain nonprofit groups.
Obtaining the FEC’s opinion could take a few months, but Microsoft says that won’t stop it from moving ahead with the service.
The company tells FEC it might also work with others such as Facebook and Twitter on coordinated election security efforts.