Google Finds Russia-backed Ads Aired On Its Platforms

Pauline Gross
October 12, 2017

Sandberg's meeting in Congress came as the world's largest social media network, joined by a growing list of other major internet firms, finds itself on the defensive in Washington amid renewed scrutiny about how Moscow sought to use their platforms to influence the 2016 presidential election.

"I think we should seek to facilitate when the intelligence community identifies the Russians are using this platform in the same way that when the intelligence community finds that ISIS or Al Qaeda is using the platform for recruitment, there ought to be a dialogue through Federal Bureau of Investigation or DHS", he explained, per a transcript shared with Recode on Wednesday.

But after launching a review, the company found around $100,000 (£76,000) in ad spending potentially linked to Russian sources, according to a source. On Sunday, the Daily Beast news website reported that the Kremlin recruited at least two black video bloggers to post clips on YouTube during the campaign. However, Twitter's analysis did not conclude whether RT's ad buys were related to attempts to influence the USA election.

Google found that tens of thousands of dollars were spent on ads by Russian agents whose vehicles included Google's YouTube and gmail services, along with the company's signature search engine and its DoubleClick ad network, said the people familiar with the internal investigationwho spoke to WP. However, Google's investigation has not found any evidence that the Russian ads used these categories or geographic parameters to target specific groups, the person said. He also promised to hire 1,000 more people to the ad monitoring team.

One of Facebook's top executives met Wednesday with House members investigating the company's Russia-linked ads and told them the social media giant is serious about dealing with the issue. "The extent of the Russian presence just continues to grow and grow, and I don't think we yet have any kind of full understanding of just how expansive this presence may have been".

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The discovery may indicate a broader Russian online disinformation effort. The goal was to influence voting behaviour, in some cases by suppressing turnout.

The public will soon be able to see the approximately 3,000 Facebook ads a Russian company is believed to have purchased during the 2016 election.

Targeted advertising rules on Facebook are about to get a lot more stringent.

Amid calls for more transparency from the companies on this matter, some lawmakers are proposing legislation that would require Facebook, Twitter, Google and others to publicly disclose information about political ads on their platforms.

Other reports by GizPress

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