After analyzing data, Google has uncovered evidence that Russian operatives exploited its platforms to interfere in the 2016 election, one media outlet reports.
Sources tell The Washington Post that "tens of thousands of dollars were spent on ads by Russian agents who aimed to spread disinformation" across Google's products such as Gmail, Search, YouTube, and its DoubleClick ad network.
Google previously denied finding evidence of political ad-related interference on its platforms, but people familiar with the investigation say the company is looking at a series of ads that cost less than $100,000, which came from either trolls or legitimate Russian accounts.
Google did not confirm or deny the report, but rather pointed to "a set of strict ad policies including limits on political ad targeting and prohibitions on targeting based on race and religion."
A Google spokesperson wrote in an email to Search Marketing Daily that the company is "taking a deeper look to investigate attempts to abuse our systems, working with researchers and other companies, and will provide assistance to ongoing inquiries."
The alleged ads bought on Google were not from the same organization that purchased the 3,000 ads on Facebook, according to the report.
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. The ads were likely bought by people operating in Russia.
Twitter also found links to hundreds of Russian-backed accounts. The company announced Thursday that company executives are talking with congressional committees with respect to investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election. It's an ongoing process.
Based on Twitter's findings after analyzing three accounts related to Russia — @RT_com, @RT_America, and @ActualidadRT — these accounts spent about $274,100 in U.S. ads in 2016 promoting 1,823 tweets that "definitely or potentially targeted the U.S. market." The campaigns were targeted at followers of mainstream media and primarily promoted RT Tweets regarding news stories, according to Twitter.