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Google uncovers evidence of Russian interference ahead of 2016 United States election

10 October 2017

An internal investigation at Google has revealed Russian agents spent "tens of thousands of dollars" on fake ads while attempting to influence the 2016 USA election, according to the Washington Post.

Google has uncovered evidence of a large-scale Russian operation to exploit its platforms as part of attempted interference with the 2016 USA election. It was not clear whether the ads appeared on YouTube or the Gmail email service, the person said.

Google's discovery is significant as well because the advertisements do not seem to be from the same farm of trolls affiliated with the Kremlin that bought Facebook ads, which is a sign that the effort in Russian Federation to spread online disinformation might be far broader of a problem than first thought by companies in Silicon Valley.

The U.S. Congress has opened multiple investigations to determine the level of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The sources added that the company ascertain whether this ad bought a "Troll" or some of them were paid from ordinary Russian accounts.

Google also has two different sets of policies for dealing with who can create accounts and who can buy advertising, making it harder for the company to police accounts that simply created YouTube pages without paying money to advertise or have those pages promoted.

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The company had previously said it had found no evidence of this kind of activity.

The company apparently discovered the presence by accessing data from Twitter, which is something Twitter charges for if the user wants to mine all the way back to 2006, but is free of charge up to a certain point.

Lawmakers have summoned Facebook, Twitter and Google for public hearings on the matter.

Though the videos were only viewed hundreds of times, they demonstrated for the first time that Russian Federation allegedly deployed real people, not just fake online accounts or bots, to further spread propaganda.

Twitter, meanwhile, has been shown to be a dense thicket of easily faked accounts and news items that allowed alleged Russian operatives to pump out politically divisive and anti-Clinton tweets. The tech giants are scheduled for a double-header on November 1: They have been asked to testify before both the Senate and House intelligence committees. It said it will investigate how Russian operatives could have used its platform and how to prevent similar behaviour in the future. "In this part of our review, we found approximately $US50,000 in potentially politically related ad spending on roughly 2200 ads".

Google uncovers evidence of Russian interference ahead of 2016 United States election