TAG Bulletin: Q4 2021

This bulletin includes coordinated influence operation campaigns terminated on our platforms in Q4 2021. It was last updated on December 2, 2021.

October

  • We terminated 9 YouTube channels and 1 ads account as part of our investigation into coordinated influence operations linked to Vietnam. The campaign uploaded conspiracy theory content in English and Korean. We believe this operation was financially motivated
  • We terminated 4 AdSense accounts and blocked 22 domains from eligibility to appear on Google News surfaces and Discover as part of our investigation into a reported coordinated influence operation linked to India. The campaign uploaded a variety of news content in English to domains that were designed to look as if they were independent news outlets in various US states and European countries. We believe this operation was financially motivated. We received leads from the FBI that supported us in this investigation.
  • We terminated 37 YouTube channels and 4 blogs as part of our investigation into coordinated influence operations linked to Sudan. The campaign uploaded content in Arabic that was supportive of the Sudanese military. Our findings are similar to findings reported by Facebook.
  • We terminated 3 YouTube channels as part of our investigation into coordinated influence operations linked to Uganda. The campaign uploaded content in English that was critical of Ugandan opposition political parties. Our findings are similar to findings reported by Twitter.
  • We terminated 3,311 YouTube channels as part of our ongoing investigation into coordinated influence operations linked to China. These channels mostly uploaded spammy content in Chinese about music, entertainment, and lifestyle. A very small subset uploaded content in Chinese and English about China’s COVID-19 vaccine efforts and social issues in the U.S. These findings are consistent with our previous reports.

Making healthcare options more accessible on Search

Navigating the U.S. healthcare system can be quite challenging, so it’s no wonder three in four people turn to the internet first in their search for health information. By providing timely and authoritative health information, plus relevant resources and tools on Google Search, we’re always exploring ways to help people make more informed choices about their health. Here are a few new ways we’re helping.

New ways to find insurance information on Google

In the U.S., finding a doctor who accepts your health insurance is often a top priority. When searching for a specific provider, people can check which insurance networks that they might accept. And if they’re searching for a new provider overall, on mobile, they’re now able to filter providers nearby who accept Medicare — a health plan predominantly for people over the age of 65.

PrestaShop merchants can now display their products on Google

As the end-of-year holiday season is in full swing, our aim at Google is to help shoppers browse for inspiration, discover new products and ultimately find what they’re looking for. This is why we are building an open ecosystem that connects merchants and customers around the world.

To help merchants reach more customers online, we welcome PrestaShop merchants globally to more easily integrate their product inventory across Google. Starting today, “PrestaShop Marketing with Google,” a new add-on to the PrestaShop Essentials suite, is available in France and in countries where Shopping campaigns are available, allowing 300,000 PrestaShop merchants to feature their products across Google in just a few clicks. This collaboration with PrestaShop will enable their merchants to become discoverable by millions of people across Search, the Shopping tab, Image Search and YouTube.

This is the first partnership of this scale with a French and European e-commerce platform. We hope that this collaboration will give shoppers more choice online, and help merchants meet their customers more easily during the end of the year holiday season and beyond.

Google for Startups Sales Academy boosts Florida businesses

As a native Floridian — born, raised and currently building a business in West Palm Beach — I see the Sunshine State as a place bursting with possibilities. So many people want to be here, so why leave? As more entrepreneurs and investors relocate from traditional tech hubs to emerging startup ecosystems, Florida — with our tropical climate, diverse population and lack of state income tax — has suddenly become a business hotspot. While Florida’s tech industry isn’t as established as San Francisco or New York, Miami startups raised close to $1 billion in venture funding in 2020 alone — and shows no signs of slowing post-pandemic.

Although it was not always the case, there is now a great deal of support for entrepreneurs in my hometown and in my county. The first grant I ever received opened many doors for my company, and in turn I am doing the same for other small business owners.

Born out of my own losses, failures and successes, my company, The Leadership Haven Resource Center, has provided leadership and business development training in Florida and beyond for more than five years. To date, we’ve helped hundreds of small business owners develop leadership skills rooted in what I call the ABCDs: accountability, balance, consistency and determination.

One of the top challenges I hear from the entrepreneurs I work with — and have experienced myself — is how difficult it can be to acquire new customers and partners when you’re getting started. So I was thrilled to learn about Google for Startups Sales Academy in Florida, a seven-week program designed to equip founders with critical sales skills that they can use to drive business success. This fall, I joined 11 other founders from across the state for a series of weekly virtual lessons on customer growth and revenue topics facilitated by Google mentors and subject matter experts. The classes were based on Google for Startups’ signature “THRIVE” sales strategy, including how to ask better questions, how to handle objections and how to expand relationships and trust over time.

When the Sales Academy kicked off, I was in the midst of planning my company’s annual Reignite Florida Small Business Leadership Summit, I set a goal to learn ways to engage and connect with prospective partners for the summit, without giving in to my fears before I started. When I rolled out early bird ticket sales after the Google for Startups mentorship, I started selling out almost immediately, largely because I felt more assertive going into these conversations. To date, I have secured more than seven partners by using the skills I learned through Sales Academy.

As a coach and a consultant, it has been my job to help founders and entrepreneurs realize their full potential. Many business owners are used to seeing things and doing things one way, so I assist organizations and corporations with not just seeing the big picture but switching canvases and starting a whole new picture. Google for Startups Sales Academy turned on that switch for me and my business by helping me gain the skills I needed to achieve my own mission. Looking ahead to 2022, I hope to use these new tactics to secure a brick-and-mortar office to host workshops and to travel to different states beyond Florida to do what I love.

Sales Academy also inspired me to make a promise to myself: to never allow anyone to make me feel like an employee ever again. I am an investor, and a contributor, and tools like my newfound confidence ensure that I never allow anyone to diminish my gifts. Five years after deciding to dedicate 100% of my time to growing my business, I am starting to see all that me and my company can be.

Get festive this holiday season with new Android features

Family Bell helps you and your family stay on track with your daily schedules, wherever you may be. Whether you set up Family Bell on your Android phone, home speaker or smart display, bells and notifications will alert you and your family when it’s time for important moments throughout the day — helping you get out the door in the morning, pick up your kids from sports practice or get to bed on schedule. Family members will also be able to set bells on their own devices so they can stay on top of their individual goals too.

For the holidays, suggested bells for new activities include watering a tree, a family movie night or volunteering to support a local cause. Family Bell is always easy to edit, manage and customize from your selected device.

Get more out of your favorite Google apps with widgets

The path to Malaysia’s digital potential

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Mohd Zaid, from Kajang, Malaysia, felt the pressure of providing for his family in an uncertain environment. To bring in some extra income, he turned first to one of his personal passions — making soy wax candles infused with scented oils — and then he turned to the internet. After learning digital marketing skills through a Grow with Google course, Zaid was able to go beyond word-of-mouth sales and promote his candles online through Google Ads and Search. His revenue jumped 70%.

Zaid is one of a growing number of Malaysian entrepreneurs embracing a more digital economy. Technology has helped Malaysians through the economic effects of the pandemic, enabling people across the country to work, learn and run their businesses in new ways. According to the latest eConomy Southeast Asia report, 81% of all Malaysian internet users now use digital services — including three million people who’ve become new ‘digital consumers’ since the pandemic began. And business owners are adopting technology at a faster pace, using digital tools to serve their customers better. Over 40% of digital merchants in Malaysia believe their businesses wouldn’t have survived the pandemic without digital platforms (the highest proportion anywhere in the region).

Technology is equally important to Malaysia’s long-term future. According to a new report released by AlphaBeta, making the most of digital opportunities could create $61.3 billion in annual economic value for Malaysia by 2030. That’s the equivalent of about 17% of Malaysia’s GDP in 2020.

So the possibilities are enormous — but right now, Malaysia has some catching up to do. Only one-third of Malaysian businesses have a website, compared with 44% globally. The digital economy is also uneven. Some industries, like manufacturing, use technology far more intensively than others, like agriculture, while small businesses face a shortage of workers with the right skills.

Malaysia’s government has developed a Digital Economy Blueprint, aiming to position Malaysia as a regional technology leader by the end of the decade, and the AlphaBeta report sets out three priorities for getting there: digitalizing the public and private sectors, building the nation’s digital talent and promoting digital trade opportunities.

To help, Google Malaysia will continue to expand programs like Mahir Digital Bersama Google, which has already trained more than 36,000 Malaysian small businesses. We’ll keep working to close digital skills gaps through initiatives like Go Digital ASEAN (supported by Google.org and focused on marginalized communities) and AirAsia academy, which provides free digital courses for local small businesses. Through YouTube, we’ll expand our efforts to help Malaysian creators find global audiences and grow revenue for their businesses. And we’ll deepen our efforts with the Ministry of Education to improve digital learning in schools, laying the ground for the next generation of talent.

After a challenging period, I know we can look to the future with confidence — and technology is at the heart of the ambitions we share for our economy and society. We’re looking forward to playing our part in advancing Malaysia’s exciting digital potential together.

Machine learning to make sign language more accessible

Google has spent over twenty years helping to make information accessible and useful in more than 150 languages. And our work is definitely not done, because the internet changes so quickly. About 15% of searches we see are entirely new every day. And when it comes to other types of information beyond words, in many ways, technology hasn’t even begun to scratch the surface of what’s possible. Take one example: sign language.

The task is daunting. There are as many sign languages as there are spoken languages around the world. That’s why, when we started exploring how we could better support sign language, we started small by researching and experimenting with what machine learning models could recognize. We also spoke with members of the Deaf community, as well as linguistic experts. We began combining several ML models to recognize sign language as a sum of its parts — going beyond just hands to include body gestures and facial expressions.

After 14 months of testing with a database of videos for Japanese Sign Language and Hong Kong Sign Language, we launched SignTown: an interactive desktop application that works with a web browser and camera.

SignTown is an interactive web game built to help people to learn about sign language and Deaf culture. It uses machine learning to detect the user’s ability to perform signs learned from the game.

Project Shuwa

SignTown is only one component of a broader effort to push the boundaries of technology for sign language and Deaf culture, named “Project Shuwa” after the Japanese word for sign language (“手話”). Future areas of development we’re exploring include building a more comprehensive dictionary across more sign and written languages, as well as collaborating with the Google Search team on surfacing these results to improve search quality for sign languages.

Do even more with your Chromebook camera

And coming soon…

Starting early next year, you’ll be able to create GIFs on the Camera app. Just record a five-second video dancing around with friends, hugging your loved ones, or playing with your favorite pet, and it will automatically turn into a shareable GIF.

If you’re interested in getting a sneak peak and providing feedback on Chromebook features before they launch, join our Chrome OS Beta Community. Sign-up here to be a Chrome OS Beta Tester Product Expert. Currently in Beta is a feature that integrates the Camera app with the Google Assistant. Just say “take a photo,” “record video” or “take a selfie” – you can even use Google Assistant to open the Camera app, so you don’t have to lift a finger.

We’ll be back in the new year to share more new Chromebook features.