Google uncovers trove of ads bought by Russians during USA election


Pic: Getty ImagesFacebook has confirmed that around 5% of the adverts it has identified as having been bought by Russian Federation around the time of the U.S. presidential election also appeared on Instagram.

U.S. intelligence agencies concluded in January that Russian president Vladmir Putin intervened in the USA. election to help Donald Trump win.

Meanwhile, Twitter announced last month that it suspended more than 200 accounts it believes were linked to the same Russian actors who bought the Facebook ads, which were aimed at creating division and dissent among Americans leading up to the election. It was also pressure from Congress to determine the extent to which Russian operatives use social media and buy ads across internet platforms that sparked Google's own investigation.

"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", the Post report said.

Facebook reportedly unearthed $100,000 (£76,000) in spending from a single Russian group, the Internet Research Agency.

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In a statement, Google said it has a "set of strict ads policies including limits on political ad targeting and prohibitions on targeting based on race and religion". Google and Twitter reportedly did not collaborate on the effort, which is supposedly still in its early stages. The Washington Post reported Monday that Google products also saw Russian campaign ads make buys previous year during the presidential campaign. The news about the Instagram ads was released last Friday in a blog post from Facebook's VP of policy and communications Elliot Schrage and was the first notification that Russian-bought ads ran on more than Facebook's signature platform. They posed as Black Lives Matter sympathizers who were sharply critical of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

It has turned the ads over to congressional panels investigating Russian involvement in the election. Reports indicate the Russians using Google's sites are a different group than those involved with Facebook, so the problem appears to be wider spread than many originally anticipated.

Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers have said Russian Federation meant to sow discord in the United States, spread propaganda and sway the election.

In late September, Zuckerberg used his Facebook Live feature to outline steps the company is taking to make its platform less vulnerable to political issues like selling ads to foreign operatives looking to influence USA elections. When Facebook revealed the extent of its problem, it talked about $100,000 in ad buys from almost 500 affiliated accounts "likely operated out of Russia". While Facebook and Twitter have confirmed plans to attend, Google has not.