Google Finds Russian-Linked Ads on Gmail, YouTube and More

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.   Drew Angerer  Getty Images

Both Twitter Inc and Facebook recently detected and disclosed that suspected Russian operatives, working for a content farm known as the Internet Research Agency in St. Petersburg, Russia, used their platforms to purchase ads and post content that was politically divisive in a bid to influence Americans before and after the November 2016 presidential election. The company has already provided the information of 3000 ads purchased from Russian fake accounts, for which more than $100,000 was spent by the Russian agency to Congress. Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012, paying $1 billion in cash and stock.

Earlier reports said Russian operatives bought ads across several of Google's services without the company's knowledge, in the latest evidence that their campaign to influence U.S. voters was wide-reaching and sophisticated, deploying the technology industry's most powerful tools. Facebook also said the pages had placed 3,000 ads on its network at a cost of about $100,000. 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.

The source, who was not authorized to elaborate more on the matter, however, added that this may indicate a wider Russian online disinformation effort.

"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", a Google spokeswoman said yesterday. A study by the Oxford Internet Institute, which is affiliated with the British Oxford University, found that current and former U.S. military personal were especially targeted by the Russian disinformation campaigns.

Bob Corker Refers to Trump White House as 'Adult Daycare Center': Read
Corker aide Todd Womack also says Trump "reaffirmed that he would have endorsed" the senator, "as he has said many times". In so doing, Corker said publicly what many Republicans in Congress have largely limited to their private conversations.

"We have a set of strict ads policies including limits on political ad targeting and prohibitions on targeting based on race and religion".

Under fire for its response to Russian activity on its site before the presidential vote, Facebook last month agreed to hand over detailed information on thousands of Russian-backed ads to congressional investigators and said it would take steps to increase political transparency. This, according to the report, was done to meddle in the last presidential election in the US. Google and Twitter reportedly did not collaborate on the effort, which is supposedly still in its early stages.

The House intelligence committee will release copies of the election-related Facebook ads that were purchased by Russian-linked accounts, the committee leaders said Wednesday. Google is continuing to examine its own records and also is sharing data with Facebook.

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