Google reportedly finds Russian-linked ads on YouTube, Gmail, more

Posted October 10, 2017

The Google ads do not appear to be bought by the same Russian-government linked "troll farm" that bought $100,000 worth of ads on Facebook in the run-up to the 2016 election, the Post reports, suggesting that Russia's efforts to spread false information was a multifaceted effort.

Facebook released more details about ads bought by Russian operatives previous year with the intent of influencing the USA presidential election, per a report from Recode. Those familiar with this investigations said the company was looking at a group of ads with a cost of under $100,000 and that it continued to sort out if all those ads were from trolls or if some originated from legitimate accounts in Russian Federation.

Google has uncovered evidence of a large-scale Russian operation to exploit its platforms as part of attempted interference with the 2016 United States election.

The ads were purchased on many of Google's products, including YouTube, which is the world's largest video sharing site, and Gmail, The Washington Post reported on Monday.

The Washington Post was the first to report Google's discovery. The company is looking at a set of ads that cost less than $100,000 in total, according to the report.

Facebook earlier admitted it found over 3,000 fake accounts linked to Russians.

In late September, Zuckerberg used his Facebook Live feature to outline steps the company is taking to make its platform less vulnerable to political issues like selling ads to foreign operatives looking to influence USA elections.

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According to The Post, the Google ads tried to "spread disinformation" and were a multipronged approach.

Google, owned by Alphabet Inc GOOGL.O , did not deny the story, and in a statement pointed to its existing ad policies that limit political ad targeting and prohibit targeting based on race or religion.

Twitter also found links to hundreds of Russian-backed accounts.

The company had previously said it had found no evidence of this kind of activity.

Though the videos were only viewed hundreds of times, they demonstrated for the first time that Russian Federation allegedly deployed real people, not just fake online accounts or bots, to further spread propaganda. Facebook was reported last week working with Twitter and Google on these matters.

Both Facebook and Twitter have agreed to appear for a public hearing before one of the Senate committees probing Russia's interference in the 2016 election on November 1.