Google investigating $100000 worth of shadowy Russian-bought adverts

Posted October 10, 2017

The Washington Post is reporting that Google has for the first time uncovered evidence that Russian operatives used the Internet giant's platforms in an effort interfere in the 2016 US presidential election.

On Monday, Oxford University researchers said they have found that fake Twitter and Facebook accounts linked to Russians were used to target us active military personnel as well as veterans "mixing disinformation alongside other content already being read and shared widely among these communities".

The Russian-bought ads unearthed by Google are seemingly not from the same Kremlin-affiliated entity that was found to have purchased ads on Facebook.

Facebook shared some of the data from its probe with Twitter and Google, sources previously told Recode.

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The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, said it should not be surprising that Russians were using Google as well as Facebook and Twitter.

This news comes as Facebook's security executive Alex Stamos responded to critics of the company's reaction to the fake news narrative. Facebook provided Congress with details about those ads.

Meanwhile, Congress has initiated several investigations into the matter that Russian-bought ads were a planned attack to rig the election and sow discord in the United States.

Andrea Faville, a spokesperson for Google previously said no evidence of malicious ad campaigns had been found. The company said it found 450 accounts and about $100,000 was spent on the ads. Google runs the world's largest online advertising business and YouTube is the world's largest online video site.

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"We have a set of strict ads policies including limits on political ad targeting and prohibitions on targeting based on race and religion", said a spokesman for Google.

As of now, there have been no comments from Google or Alphabet on the development.

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 has announced changes to the way adverts are signed off, including "additional human review and approval" for some targeted ads.

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Google has been called to testify at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on November 1. As a result, Twitter identified about 200 related, Russia-tied accounts on its platform, though none of them had been registered as advertisers.