An investigation by Google has uncovered signs that the Russian government purchased ads on Google-owned platforms to spread fake news to American citizens during the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign.
The probe revealed that tens of thousands of dollars were spent on ads to spread false information on YouTube, Google search ads, Gmail, and Google’s DoubleClick ad network, sources told The Washington Post.
The news comes after Facebook and Twitter discovered similar ads were purchased by Russian groups with the same aim: to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election in a bid to ensure Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton was not elected. Interestingly, the ads discovered by Google appear to be from different government-backed groups than those that purchased ads on Facebook.
“We have a set of strict ads policies including limits on political ad targeting and prohibitions on targeting based on race and religion,” Google said in a statement to the media. “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.”
Google launched its investigation after Congress applied some pressure to technology companies, asking them to determine how Russia may have used their platforms for its own ends.
Google, Facebook and Twitter representatives have been asked to testify on Nov. 1 in front of a House Intelligence Committee that is looking into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The companies must also appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee that day to answer questions on the same issue.
The Senate and House intelligence committees are both investigating suspicions that Russia actively interfered in the U.S. presidential race in a bid to get now-president Donald Trump elected. There have been whispers as well about Trump’s people working together with Russia to make his presidency happen — accusations both parties have denied.