Google Discovers Russia-Backed Ads on YouTube, Gmail

Posted October 10, 2017

Google has not identified how numerous accounts and ads are associated with the Internet Research Agency, the Kremlin-linked troll farm that bought ads on Facebook and Twitter.

Google has found evidence its platforms were exploited by Russian operatives seeking to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, The Washington Post reported on Monday. 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.

"We are taking a deeper look to investigate attempts to abuse our systems, working with researchers and other companies, and will provide assistance to ongoing inquiries", the statement continued.

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

US Congressional investigators have recently focused on the spread of false news stories and propaganda on social media, and have pressured Facebook, along with Twitter and Google, to release any Russia-linked ads.

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

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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. Both Twitter Inc and Facebook have said that Russian Federation bought ads and had accounts on their platforms.

The company declined to comment to the Washington Post in October. That means ads on services like Gmail, Google Search, and YouTube may have been paid for by Kremlin-connected accounts, much like at Facebook and Twitter.

"This was a broad search, including, for instance, ads bought from accounts with US IP addresses but with the language set to Russian - even though they didn't necessarily violate any policy or law".

This is the first time Google has been reported to admit to evidence of this activity.

Google has avoided the intense scrutiny Facebook has been subjected to over the response to alleged Russian electoral interference, however this could change as the investigation continues. Associated accounts are confirmed to have purchased ads on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. The tech giants are scheduled for a double-header on November 1: They have been asked to testify before both the Senate and House intelligence committees.