Google uncovers Russia-backed ads on YouTube and Gmail

Violet Powell
October 10, 2017

"Google is conducting a broad internal investigation to determine whether Russian-linked entities used its ads or services to try to manipulate voters ahead of the USA election", media reports said.

The Post reported that Google used data from Twitter to link Russian Twitter accounts with those who had purchased the Google ads.

Although Google has made no official statement since its earlier denial, The Washington Post reports company sources describing new evidence.

The Washington Post noted that until now, Google has "mostly avoided the scrutiny" that's focused on Facebook, which recently provided Congressional investigators with about 3,000 Russian-bought ads.

Russian operatives spent tens of thousands of dollars on ads across Google products, including YouTube and Google search, according to a report. Facebook and Twitter have previously stated Russian agents spent money to push paid ads on their platforms to create disarray ahead of the election, that was eventually won by current U.S. president Donald Trump. It previously told the Post that it is "always monitoring for abuse or violations of our policies and we've seen no evidence this type of ad campaign was run on our platforms".

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The three companies have been asked to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on November 1. According to the estimates, $ 100,000 invested would have enabled Russian Federation to buy ads Facebook views by 23 million Americans, primarily in States crucial such as MI and Wisconsin, won with 10,000 and 20,000 votes ahead by Donald Trump.

Congressional committees have launched several investigations into the Russian interference in the US presidential elections. Google reportedly uncovered its problem by searching through Twitter data. The ads were likely bought by people operating in Russian Federation.

It's early days for Google, and it remains to be seen whether it will testify before United States congress on 1 Nov, along with Facebook and Twitter executives. According to the social network, the ads were bought by operatives linked with the Internet Research Agency, a troll farm affiliated with the Russian government.

Facebook revealed last month that the company had found $100,000 in spending by the agency and has since pledged to become more transparent about their ad transactions. Almost $275,000 worth of ads on Twitter were bought by RT, a Russian government-linked news outlet, during 2016.

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