Google Uncovers Ads by Russian Operatives

Google uncovers evidence of Russian interference ahead of 2016 US election

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. In September, the social network said it found $100,000 worth of spending on divisive political ads on its platform by hundreds of Russian-linked fake accounts and pages during a period that included the 2016 presidential election.

The Washington Post was the first to report Google's discovery.

Google has not said whether it will testify. It's not clear how many ads there were or how many times they were clicked on. "But the themes are consistent across platforms: the desire to help Donald Trump, to hurt Hillary Clinton and the desire to set Americans against each other".

The total ad spend by "Russian agents" identified was reportedly less than $100,000, and it's unclear whether some came from "legitimate Russian accounts".

The links were discovered by analysing Twitter data, reports the Post. There were also posts created to stoke cultural tensions in the country, such as anti-immigrant material, according to the Washington Post.

Google is the world's largest online advertisement platform. Users from Russian Federation engaged in spreading misinformation through such platforms as Google, YouTube, Google search, Gmail and advertising network DoubleClick. Google has yet to confirm whether it will also give evidence at the hearing. The ads were much more broad, aimed at English-language queries or any users in the United States, for example.

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A Google spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment.

"If Vladimir Putin is using Facebook or Google or Twitter to, in effect, destroy our democracy, the American people should know about it", Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal said Monday on MSNBC.

USA intelligence agencies have concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin directed a disinformation campaign aimed at helping Donald Trump win the presidential election.

The content of the ads that flowed through Google was not clear.

Google is working with Jigsaw, a think tank owned by its parent company, Alphabet. It said it will investigate how Russian operatives could have used its platform and how to prevent similar behaviour in the future.

The Trump campaign used the technology to "microtarget on a scale never seen before", according to Parscale, who also noted that he specifically requested Republican employees from these social media and digital companies to embed with the campaign.

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