Google reportedly finds Russian-linked ads on YouTube, Gmail, more


Citing people familiar with its investigation, the Post says the Russian-bought ads could be worth more than $100,000, and that Google is still investigating if the ads were from the troll accounts, or there were some legitimate Russian accounts involved.

This is the first time Google has discovered any evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election. Even so, sources indicate Google's investigation is still ongoing, and while they have determined less than $100,000 was spent on ads during the election, they can not yet determine if the purchasers were legitimate Russian accounts or associated trolls. Google discovered potential Russian ads by linking Russian Twitter accounts to those used to purchase ads on its own services, reportedly without Twitter's permission. In the report, the Russian affiliated group that bought ads on Facebook, Inc. were different than the team that purchased ads on Google.

The discovery marks the first time the Silicon Valley behemoth has confirmed Russian-linked ads were distributed across its many products - including YouTube, Gmail and DoubleClick - the Washington Post reported.

While Facebook, the company trailing Google in the online advertising race, has received scorn for its role in sharing disinformation leading up to last year's election, Google has largely been unscathed. In September, a spokesperson for Google said the company always monitors for any violations of abuse of its policies and has seen nothing to indicate there was an ad campaign run across its platforms. Facebook's ads were turned over to the House and Senate intelligence committees and the Senate Judiciary Committee. According to the social network, the ads were bought by operatives linked with the Internet Research Agency, a troll farm affiliated with the Russian government.

Interestingly, Google discovered the Russian Federation ad buys by using Twitter.

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Facebook, Twitter and now Google.

It is unclear if some of the same ad buyers on Facebook also purchased ads on Google. Almost $275,000 worth of ads on Twitter were bought by RT, a Russian government-linked news outlet, during 2016.

Google officials are expected to testify in front of Congress on November 1 on the issue, along with representatives from Facebook and Twitter.

In a blog post, Facebook wrote it is also looking at an additional 2200 ads that may have not come from the Internet Research Agency.