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Google 'discovers Russia-linked ads' on YouTube and Gmail before USA election
10 October 2017, 12:25 | Tara Lloyd
Google uncovered Russia-backed ads on YouTube, Gmail, reports Washington Post
Google began the investigation after Congress asked tech companies to help determine how Russian agents used social media to influence the election. Both Facebook and the other social-media giant, Twitter, have said that Russian entities bought ads and had accounts on their platforms.
"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", a Google spokeswoman said on Monday.
Facebook published a blog post on September 6, 2017, revealing that the company found about $100,000 in ad purchases between June 2015 and May 2017 - associated with roughly 3,000 ads connected to about 470 inauthentic accounts and pages in violation of it policies. However, the Google ads were reportedly not purchased by the same Vladimir Putin-affiliated group that bought ads on Facebook, meaning the problem could be more widespread than thought. Facebook and Twitter have previously stated Russian agents spent money to push paid ads on their platforms to create disarray ahead of the election, that was eventually won by current USA president Donald Trump. Last week, the Senate Intelligence Committee reaffirmed the intelligence community's assessment that Russian Federation attempted to influence the election.
Facebook reportedly unearthed $100,000 (£76,000) in spending from a single Russian group, the Internet Research Agency. As the article notes, the company has previously downplayed its involvement in Russia's potential election interference.
Twitter stated that RT - which the United States intelligence community in January said played a role in Russia's efforts to interfere in the 2016 USA presidential election - spent $274,100 running ads in the U.S. a year ago.
Twitter, meanwhile, also "proactively" shared with Congress a "round-up of ads" that Russia's state-run TV network Russia Today (RT) targeted at US users in 2016.
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Facebook found roughly 3,000 ads adverts linked to Russian Federation - but it has refused to publicly release them despite calls from congressional investigators.
As The Washington Post noted: "The campaign poured money into Facebook, sending thousands of versions of tweaked ads to maximize response".
Google officials are expected to testify in front of Congress on November 1 on the issue, along with representatives from Facebook and Twitter.
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Without the new evidence, they likely would not have been able to convince a jury of Keen Warren's guilt, they said. Information from the Sun Sentinel , Washington Post and Associated Press was used in this report.