As more facts continue to unfold regarding how external forces influenced last year’s US elections, Google has reportedly uncovered how Russia-linked accounts bought election ads on its network. Citing a person familiar with the matter, Reuters reports that Russian operatives invested tens of thousands of dollars on ads on Gmail, YouTube and Google Search products. This, according to the report, was done to meddle in the last presidential election in the US.
The report further adds that the ads do now seem to have any link with those bought from Facebook. Recall that Facebook also made a similar claim about how ads were bought by Russian operatives to influence the last US election. The source, who was not authorized to elaborate more on the matter, however, added that this may indicate a wider Russian online disinformation effort. The source adds that Google uncovered less than $100,000 were spent on ads by operatives suspected to be Russian actors.
One of the conclusions reached by US intelligence agencies is that Russia’s aim was to help President Trump emerge the winner of the last US election held in 2016. Events prior to the election were pretty controversial and revealed a country widely divided in terms of views. Russia apparently took advantage of controversies surrounding Hillary Clinton [the email scandal that rocked her campaign], and further dug in with the said ads bought from some Silicon Valley giants.
Last month, Facebook informed congress that it had unknowingly sold ads space to Russian operatives whose intention was to influence the last presidential election in the US. The company disclosed this after concluding investigation—tracing $100,000 to a “troll farm” in Russia.
The statement came on the heels of a white paper the social media company published in April where it outlined how “organized attempts” were made to misuse its platform. In an official statement issued by Alex Stamos, Facebook’s Chief Security Officer, the company elaborated on how the investigation went:
“In reviewing the ads buys, we have found approximately $100,000 in ad spending from June of 2015 to May of 2017 — associated with roughly 3,000 ads — that was connected to about 470 inauthentic accounts and Pages in violation of our policies. Our analysis suggests these accounts and Pages were affiliated with one another and likely operated out of Russia.”
According to Stamos, Facebook also looked for ads that might have had its origin in Russia in the current review. The company tagged this as broad search—extending its search to ads bought with from accounts having US IPs, but with different language set to Russian. Though, such accounts did not in any way violated the company’s policy or law. This part of the review, according to Stamos, uncovered “approximately $50,000 in potentially politically related ad spending on roughly 2,200 ads,” he said.