Google platforms 'used by Russian Federation to influence United States election'

Wednesday, 11 Oct, 2017

"We take reports of misuse of our platform seriously", the spokesman wrote to Gizmodo. So far Facebook has been attracting the most scrutiny, after it found $100,000 in advertising spending on some 3,000 ads linked to a Russian troll farm with ties to the Kremlin.

Microsoft Corp said today it was looking into whether Russians bought USA election ads on its Bing search engine or on other Microsoft-owned products and platforms, after rival Google said it had discovered such ads on its products.

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. Google will also meet privately with the Senate and House Intelligence Committees prior to next month's public hearing, a source at the company confirmed.

Google said the ads emanating from Russian Federation used the company's extensive advertising network which includes YouTube or Google's DoubleClick ad setup as well as ads that get displayed via Google search or Gmail. Some of those networks are based in the United States, the Washington Post reported, and can be highly lucrative. They supported then-candidate Donald Trump, Democrat Bernie Sanders and Green Party candidate Jill Stein during the campaign.

U.S. intelligence agencies said earlier this year that Russia had tried to sway the election in favour of Mr Trump but the Russian government and Mr Trump have both denied this. The discovery comes on the back of an earlier assertion from Google that had claimed its ad and monitoring policies to be robust enough to prevent a Facebook type misuse of its platform to run a similar campaign.

On Facebook, Russian accounts created groups and pages to push divisive posts about issues such as the Black Lives Matter movement, undocumented immigration and gun control.

Google had previously said it hadn't found evidence of Russia-linked ads on its platforms.

The sprawling inquiry into the extent of Russian attempts to purchase ads on the U.S. internet before the 2016 federal elections has expanded to yet another digital giant, with Microsoft confirming that it has launched an internal investigation into whether it sold such advertisements via its Bing search engine.

Now Facebook is telling advertisers that political and other types of ads will be reviewed by humans before they go live, according to Axios. Google matched Russian-linked Twitter accounts to those that had bought advertising on its own websites, the person said.