Google deletes 58 accounts linked to Iran for misinformation campaign

Google on Thursday said it has deleted 58 accounts linked to Iran for coordinated, state-sponsored efforts to spread misinformation on its platforms, including YouTube.

The tech giant said its cybersecurity team discovered evidence that the suspicious accounts had ties to the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) and had engaged in “state-sponsored phishing attacks.” Google shuttered a total of 39 YouTube channels that drew a combined 13,466 views in the U.S., as well as 13 accounts on its social platform Google+ and six blogs on the Blogger app.

“In recent months, we’ve detected and blocked attempts by state-sponsored actors in various countries to target political campaigns, journalists, activists, and academics located around the world,” Google said in a blog post. “When we’ve seen these types of attacks, we’ve notified users as well as law enforcement.”

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Google said it alerted some Gmail users earlier this week about “suspicious emails from a wide range of countries.” It’s unclear how many users received the warning messages. The company said its existing security measures block the majority of phishing emails from reaching inboxes.

Google identified cybersecurity firm FireEye as one of the consultants that helped identify the suspicious activity. FireEye shares rose more than 7 percent on the news.

The blog post came one day after social media companies Facebook and Twitter said they had suspended or deleted suspicious accounts linked to Iran and Russia. Microsoft also said earlier this week that it had prevented hacking attempts from Russian sources on U.S. conservative groups.