Google has found evidence that Russia used its platforms to spread propaganda in an effort to influence the 2016 presidential election according to a report by The Washington Post.
Citing people familiar with the company’s investigation, the Post reports: “The Silicon Valley giant has found that tens of thousands of dollars were spent on ads by Russian agents who aimed to spread disinformation across Google’s many products, which include YouTube, as well as advertising associated with Google search, Gmail, and the company’s DoubleClick ad network, the people said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss matters that have not been made public.”
Apparently, Google is still early in its investigation due to the need to separate troll ads from those purchased by legitimate Russian sources.
The investigation is in addition to the one being conducted by Congress to find out the extent to which Russian operatives used social media, online ads and other platforms to disrupt the election.
Facebook recently announced that it sold $100,000 worth of ads to the Russian-linked Internet Research Agency. The ads, viewed by up to 10 million people, were targeted at those who have interests in issues such as gun rights and immigration and were potentially used to foment discord and anger across the ideological spectrum.
Google was able to discover the Russian activity on its platforms by acquiring data from Twitter (the social networking service allows developers to access every tweet dating back to 2006). Google simply downloaded this data and used it to link Russian Twitter accounts to those used to buy Google ads.
It's worth noting that Google has not worked with Twitter in their investigation although the company is sharing data with Facebook.