Google has found evidence that a Russian government campaign used the company’s platforms to spread propaganda, according to a new report from The Washington Post. The report follows investigations from Facebook and Twitter that uncovered similar ads, apparently designed to influence Americans around the time of the 2016 election.
Google’s investigation is still in its early stages, according to the Post, which reported that the company is in the process of separating troll ads from legitimate Russian sources. But the company reportedly found tens of thousands of dollars spent on ads across on array of Google-owned platforms, including YouTube, Gmail, and search.
“We have a set of strict ads policies including limits on political ad targeting and prohibitions on targeting based on race and religion,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement to The Verge. “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.”
Last month, Facebook disclosed that a company tied to the Russian government had purchased at least $100,000 in ads as part of a propaganda campaign, and later said the ads reached 10 million people. Notably, the Post reports that the company responsible for buying the Facebook ads was not the same entity that purchased the Google ads. Two weeks ago, Twitter also announced that it had also banned about 200 Russia-linked accounts. Google reportedly uncovered its problem by searching through Twitter data.
The disclosures have brought heightened scrutiny around the company’s ad practices, and Facebook has already announced changes. Congress is reportedly set to have representatives from Facebook, Twitter, and Google testify on the incidents.
Update, 10:56 AM ET: Includes statement from a Google spokesperson.[“Source-theverge”]