Google the Latest Tech Giant to Uncover Ads by Russian Operatives

10 October, 2017, 00:35 | Author: Randy Kelley
  • Google uncovers evidence of Russian interference ahead of 2016 US election

This week, Google reported for the first time that Russian operatives may have exploited its various media platforms as part of an elaborate plan to hack into, manage and influence the US elections.

USA intelligence agencies concluded in January that Russian president Vladmir Putin intervened in the U.S. election to help Donald Trump win.

The Washington Post reports that Google found the Russian links to ads on its platforms by using data from Twitter accounts.

Facebook said last month that the ads appeared to have come from accounts associated with a Russian entity called the Internet Research Agency. Initially, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg publicly denied the platform had any role in spreading false information.

Russia's ad purchases on Google were first reported by the Washington Post. The company previously claimed that Russian election meddling wasn't a Google problem, telling WaPo that it's "always monitoring for abuse or violations of our policies and we've seen no evidence this type of ad campaign was run on our platforms". 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. 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 company announced Thursday that company executives are talking with congressional committees with respect to investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 USA election.

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At least one outside researcher has said that the influence of Russian disinformation on Facebook is much greater than the company has so far acknowledged and encompasses paid ads as well as posts published on Facebook pages controlled by Russian agents.

Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers have said Russian Federation meant to sow discord in the United States, spread propaganda and sway the election.

Facebook has announced changes to the way adverts are signed off, including "additional human review and approval" for some targeted ads.

Twitter, meanwhile, has been shown to be a dense thicket of easily faked accounts and news items that allowed alleged Russian operatives to pump out politically divisive and anti-Clinton tweets.

Like Facebook and Twitter, Google and its parent company Alphabet have agreed to testify at public hearings before the Senate and House Intelligence Committees on November 1, sources at all three companies told CNN.

Google is, however, assisting Facebook with their investigation and vice a versa.

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