Russia’s involvement in last year’s US presidential election is becoming clearer by the day. Earlier in the week, Google revealed that Kremlin bought some ads worth about $100,000 from YouTube, Gmail and Google Search to influence the election won by Donald Trump. Visual bookmarking site, Pinterest has also come out to explain how its website was used by Russia to influence the election.
Apparently Pinterest had inadvertently helped spread Russia-linked political posts on its platform. Per CNET, the visual bookmarking site had become a vault for political posts sponsored by Russia-backed operatives. This, according to the report, was used to influence public opinion thereby promoting division and tension before, during and even after the last US election. While the Russian operatives didn’t not actually post directly to the bookmarking site, their messages did find their way to the site after members saved messages on Twitter and Facebook to their boards.
“We believe the fake Facebook content was so sophisticated that it tricked real Americans into saving it to Pinterest,” a Pinterest spokesperson said in a statement, per CNET. “We’ve removed the content brought to our attention and continue to investigate.”
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.
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 accounts having US IPs, but with different language set to Russian. Though, such accounts did not in any way violate 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.
As more facts unfold regarding how external forces influenced the 2016 US elections, Google 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 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.
Events prior to the election were pretty controversial and revealed a country widely divided in terms of views.