Experts Say Russia's Meddling in 2016 Presidential Elections More Elaborate than Reported

Nichole Vega
October 10, 2017

Russian agents appeared to purchase search and display ads on Google valued at about $4,700 in a bid to spread disinformation during the 2016 USA presidential election, sources confirmed to Recode on Monday. Google did not comment on the matter to the Post, which cited people familiar with the company's investigation.

Meanwhile, Reuters reports that Google plans to have a more thorough investigation than Facebook or Twitter.

Russian operatives spent tens of thousands of dollars on ads across Google products, including YouTube and Google search, according to a report.

That includes efforts on Capitol Hill to study Russian attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election. According to the social network, the ads were bought by operatives linked with the Internet Research Agency, a troll farm affiliated with the Russian government.

Google found an advertisement, purchased by Russia, YouTube, Gmail and other platforms. The company said it found 450 accounts and about $100,000 was spent on the ads. In September, a spokesperson for Google said the company always monitors for any violations of abuse of its policies and has seen nothing to indicate there was an ad campaign run across its platforms. The only thing that is surprising, he said, is that it took so long for Google to find the activity. 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. Google reportedly uncovered its problem by searching through Twitter data. "In this part of our review, we found approximately $50,000 in potentially politically related ad spending on roughly 2,200 ads", Facebook said.

This is the first time Google has been reported to admit to evidence of this activity. The only location where Google allows ad targeting by political affiliation is the United States.

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.

Other social media giants, Facebook and Twitter, have already indicated that they discovered content financed by Russian interests. Those accounts bought advertising to promote those messages and reach a bigger audience within the Facebook universe, while promoting the incendiary posts to different locations or people with established political leanings for maximum impact.

Other reports by AllAboutTopnews

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