After Facebook and Twitter, Google has now reportedly come up with similar findings when it comes to Russian-bought ads on its platforms. Google found Russian operative purchased ads worth tens of thousands of dollars on YouTube, Google search, Gmail and its other products, according to a Monday report from The Washington Post.
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. This suggests that more operatives may have been involved in trying to rig the Presidential election.
As of now, there have been no comments from Google or Alphabet on the development. However, according to the Post, the search giant, who downplayed any such possibility on its platforms before, has now initiated an investigation into the matter. It seems the investigation was launched after pressure from Congress to identify how Russian operatives exploited various social media platforms and digital advertising to influence the 2016 presidential election.
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Previously, both Facebook and Twitter admitted to Russian-bought ads on their respective platforms. Since Google is the world’s largest online advertising business and YouTube is the world’s largest online video site, there were always good chances that Russian operatives exploited the platforms to forward their propaganda.
“Google discovered the Russian presence on its platforms by siphoning data from another technology company, Twitter, the people familiar with Google’s investigation said,” says the Post.
Citing people familiar with its investigation, the Post says the Russian-bought ads could be worth more than $100,000, and that Google is still investigating if the ads were from the troll accounts, or there were some legitimate Russian accounts involved. Some of these ads talk about the Green party candidate Jill Stein, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, while some promoted anti-immigrant sentiment and racial animosity to foster division in the United States, notes the report.
In September, Facebook found about 470 profiles, which were linked to the Russian operatives. According to the company, these profiles bought about 3,000 ads ahead of Election Day. Earlier this month, the company handed the copies of the 3,000 ads and other data to the concerned U.S. authorities. Later, Twitter also found that 200 accounts on its platforms were in some way linked to the profiles that Facebook flagged previously.
Other tech firms, however, are still to come up with their findings. So far, there has been no information from tech firms like Oath, formerly Yahoo, and Reddit. Snap, however, told Recode that it has searched its data and found no evidence of any Russian-bought 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. On November 1, executives from Google, Facebook and Twitter are expected to appear before both the House and Senate intelligence committees to detail about the Russian efforts to use their platforms for spreading anti-national propaganda.
In pre-market trading today, Alphabet shares were in the green. Year to date, the stock is up over 25%, while in the last three-months, it is up almost 6%.