Google uncovers evidence of Russian interference ahead of 2016 United States election

Oct 10, 2017, 00:22

Google nevertheless launched its own investigation, as Congress pressured tech companies to determine how operatives from Russian Federation used online advertising, social media and other tools to help influence the presidential election of 2016 and create discord across society in the U.S. It's not yet known whether all the ads were bought by trolls or "legitimate Russian accounts", according to the Post. The company did not immediately comment on The Washington Post's story.

Google's investigation pulled data from Twitter to cross-reference if Russian accounts paid for fake ads. Google and Twitter reportedly did not collaborate on the effort, which is supposedly still in its early stages. These Russian, or Russia-affiliated agents apparently purchased tens of thousands of dollars' worth of ads on Google platforms like YouTube, Gmail and Google search.

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.

Those ads focused on "amplifying divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum - touching on topics from LGBT matters to race issues to immigration to gun rights", Facebook's Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos said in a statement.

The ads did not seem to originate from Internet Research, a Russian company that bought ads on Facebook, indicating a possibly broader Russian online-disinformation campaign, the paper reported. 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.

Pic: Getty ImagesFacebook has confirmed that around 5% of the adverts it has identified as having been bought by Russian Federation around the time of the United States presidential election also appeared on Instagram.

You can read the Washington Post's report here.

Executives from Twitter and Facebook have said they will testify before Congress on November 1 regarding Russia's attempts to sow dissent on the social media platforms.

Meanwhile, Twitter said that it shut down 201 accounts associated with the Internet Research Agency. As a result, Twitter identified about 200 related, Russia-tied accounts on its platform, though none of them had been registered as advertisers.

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