Russian actors spent tens of thousands of dollars on Google ads meant to interfere with the 2016 US presidential election, the Washington Post reported on Monday. Citing employees “familiar” with Google’s internal investigations, the Post reports that these ads, which appeared on Gmail and YouTube, “do not appear to be from the same… troll farm that bought ads on Facebook”.
Facebook has received the brunt of the scandal regarding Silicon Valley’s role in Russia’s online disinformation campaign. CEO Mark Zuckerberg was initially dismissive of claims that Facebook may have had a role in the 2016 US election’s results, but, after an investigation, announced the company had found $US100,000 ($128,700) in ad buys linked to Russian agents. These ads reached as many as 10 million people.
Google is reportedly far from completing its own investigation, but it seems there were multiple Russian-linked troll farms separately purchasing online ads meant to swing to the election. Interestingly, Google uncovered the Russian ads on its platform by cross referencing Twitter’s firehose data. The microblogging platform has also banned about 200 accounts it said were linked to Russian actors.
Facebook and Twitter will testify before Congress on November 1 over Russia’s interference ads. Google has not said whether a representative will attend. We reached out to Google for comment but had not heard back at time of writing.