It’s not just Facebook and Twitter. You can now add Google — the world’s largest online advertising company — to the list of companies exploited by Russian fake news peddlers.
An internal investigation at Google has revealed Russian agents spent “tens of thousands of dollars” on fake ads while attempting to influence the 2016 U.S. election, according to the Washington Post. The dubious ads ran across several of Google’s platforms, including GMail, Search, and YouTube — the largest video site on the web.
In contrast to Facebook, Google’s ads appear to come from a different source than the pro-Kremlin troll farm that leveraged the social network. The number of times the ads were seen or clicked on across Google isn’t known.
Google’s investigation pulled data from Twitter to cross-reference if Russian accounts paid for fake ads. The company is looking at a set of ads that cost less than $100,000 in total, according to the report.
While Facebook, the company trailing Google in the online advertising race, has received scorn for its role in sharing disinformation leading up to last year’s election, Google has largely been unscathed. About $150,000 worth of fake Facebook ads, capable of reaching more than 10 million users, touched on hot-button issues like race, immigration and gun control.
Facebook has turned over 3,000 ads to a congressional committee looking into the 2016 election. The company is testifying before congressional investigators on Nov. 1, along with Twitter. There’s no word yet on if Google plans on doing the same — or if Congress will compel the Silicon Valley heavyweight to join in.