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Google: Russian Operatives Exploited Our Platforms And Bought Ads To Interfere With The 2016 Election

10 October 2017, 8:31 am EDT By Carl Velasco Tech Times
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After Facebook admitted that Russians bought ads and distributed them via the social networking platform to meddle with the 2016 election, another major tech firm has now uncovered the same thing.

Google Discovers Russian Ad Spending On Its Own Platform

Google has found evidence that Russian operatives leveraged the company's platforms to interfere with the 2016 election, says reports citing anonymous sources familiar to Google's investigation.

Google, which runs the world's largest online advertising business, has found that Russian agents spent tens of thousands of dollars to buy ads and attempted to spread them across many of Google's products such as Gmail, Search, YouTube, and its DoubleClick ad network, sources say.

As per The Washington post, which first reported Russia's ad purchases on Google, the agents are apparently different from the troll farm Facebook uncovered from its own network, which perhaps suggests that the efforts to spread misinformation and cause a political divide among Americans during the 2016 election may be a much broader problem than tech firms in Silicon Valley care to admit.

U.S. Intelligence Agencies have already confirmed that Moscow's goal was to help Donald Trump win the election, which did indeed happen.

Other companies are beginning to look into their own platforms to determine if there's been any sort of Russian interference during the election period on their turf. Microsoft, for one, said on Monday, Oct. 9, that it was investigating if Bing or any of its other platforms were used by Russian operatives.

Silicon Valley: Russian Interference Enabler?

Google's admission adds more fuel to the scrutiny Silicon Valley is getting for the role it may have played in the 2016 election. It's certainly a highly complex subject matter, if for the fact that people have grown to rely on social networks for their news.

Russian Troll Farm

Twitter and Facebook both admitted recently that suspected Russian operatives worked from a Russian content farm to use their platforms, buy ads, and distribute them to divide people even further during the election — a time of toxic political ordeal. This farm employed hundreds of trolls to post pro-Kremlin content, most of it fake, under European or American accounts, according to researchers.

Google issued a statement on Oct. 9 saying it has a set of strict policies on advertising, imposing limits on ad targeting based on politics, race, and religion.

"We are taking a deeper look to investigate attempts to abuse our systems, working with researchers and other companies, and will provide assistance to ongoing inquiries," the company said.

Sources privy to Google's investigation say it's still trying to look for ads that cost less than $100,000 and it is still trying to determine whether all those originate from trolls or if some are from authentic Russian users.

The House and Senate intelligence committees have invited Google to testify publicly on Nov. 1 about attempts by Russian operatives to influence the outcome of the 2016 election. Facebook and Twitter will attend; Google has yet to confirm if it will.

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