Looks Like the Russians Took Advantage of Google, Too

Company finds 2016 election ads on YouTube, elsewhere, bought by Russians
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 9, 2017 8:21 AM CDT
Russians bought political ads on Google, too.   (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, File)

(Newser) – In the tech world, Facebook and Twitter have taken the brunt of the criticism for allowing Russia to meddle in the 2016 election. Now, we can add Google to the list. The company conducted its own investigation and found that tens of thousands of dollars worth of ads bought by Russians popped up on YouTube, Gmail, and elsewhere in the Google universe during the election season, reports the Washington Post. Precise details about the ads, including how many were seen by Google users, remain unclear, but the Post sees the discovery as noteworthy in one crucial way: The ads weren't bought by the same "troll farm" that bought ads on Facebook, suggesting that Russia's operation to influence the election was even broader than thought.

The discovery comes amid multiple investigations into Russian meddling, not just by Robert Mueller but by various congressional panels, explains Recode in a primer recapping what is known so far. Those following will want to circle November 1 on their calendars—that's when representatives from Facebook and Twitter will testify before Congress about how they failed to block or even notice the Russian-bought ads. (Federal law prohibits foreign nationals or their agents from buying political ads.) No word yet on whether Google will send anyone, but the new revelation raises the stakes. "Either way, it is not clear if those companies plan to send their chief executives or other representatives for the grilling, which could prove brutal," write Tony Romm and Kurt Wagner at Recode. (Read more Google stories.)

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