Google has discovered that Russian agents spent some tens of thousands of dollars on Google products including Google search, Gmail, YouTube and DoubleClick ads in order to spread false information during the 2016 presidential campaign, the Washington Post reported Monday.
The ads appear not to be from the same Russian trolls from the Internet Research Agency that advertised on Facebook. Google has launched an investigation into the ad-buying, which amounted to less than $100,000. It’s not yet known whether all the ads were bought by trolls or “legitimate Russian accounts,” according to the Post. Google did not comment on the matter to the Post, which cited people familiar with the company’s investigation.
According to the Post, Google found the Russian ads when it siphoned data from Twitter that enabled Google investigators to link Russian Twitter accounts to those using Google services to purchase ads.
The internal probe, reports the Post, is still in “early stages,” and Google is looking at its records and sharing its data with Facebook. Twitter and Google, the Post reports, “have not cooperated” in their investigations.
Tech giants Facebook, Twitter and Alphabet — the parent company of Google — have been invited to appear before House and Senate committees this month and in November as Congress investigates Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Facebook provided congressional investigators with the content of about 3,000 ads bought by a Russian agency, that aimed to sow divisiveness around political and social issues. Some of the ads included references to presidential candidates in the 2016 election.
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