A Russian-linked operation different from the Kremlin-linked troll farms that spent bank on Facebook ads, dropped tens of thousands of dollars placing ads on YouTube, GMail, and other Google platforms. Their goal? Presumably to interfere in the 2016 election.
Google remains tight-lipped about the details of their initial findings, but has said they used data from Twitter (without Twitter’s express consent) to investigate the ad buys. As of yet, Google is unsure (at least publicly) whether the ads were purchased by legitimate Russian accounts or troll accounts.
From the WaPo:
The Silicon Valley giant has found that tens of thousands of dollars were spent on ads by Russian agents who aimed to spread disinformation across Google’s many products, which include YouTube, as well as advertising associated with Google search, Gmail, and the company’s DoubleClick ad network, the people said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss matters that have not been made public. Google runs the world’s largest online advertising business, and YouTube is the world’s largest online video site.
The discovery by Google is also significant because the ads do not appear to be from the same Kremlin-affiliated troll farm that bought ads on Facebook — a sign that the Russian effort to spread disinformation online may be a much broader problem than Silicon Valley companies have unearthed so far.
Google previously downplayed the problem of Russian meddling on its platforms. Last month, Google spokeswoman Andrea Faville told The Washington Post that the company is “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.”
Up until now, Facebook has been running a full-blown crisis PR campaign, promising to buckle down on political ad buys after it was revealed Kremlin-linked troll farms ran ads on the social media behemoth just before and after the 2016 election. Last week, Facebook handed some 3,000 ads over to federal lawmakers investigating Russian interference.
Shortly after the Facebook revelations, Twitter had their turn in the hot seat after they found about 200 accounts that were used by Russian-linked groups.
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