Google uncovers Russian-bought Trump ads

Google began the investigation after Congress asked tech companies to help determine how Russian agents used social media to influence the election.

Facebook's blog post outlined what the company shared with Congress as part of its investigation into Russian interference in USA elections.

According to the Post, Google found the Russian ads when it siphoned data from Twitter that enabled Google investigators to link Russian Twitter accounts to those using Google services to purchase ads. Notably, the Post reports that the company responsible for buying the Facebook ads was not the same entity that purchased the Google ads.

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. The tech giants are scheduled for a double-header on November 1: They have been asked to testify before both the Senate and House intelligence committees. A source told the paper that the investigation is still ongoing and it is not yet clear whether the ads were all from trolls or whether some were from legitimate accounts.

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Meanwhile, Congress has started multiple investigations into the Russian interference in the 2016 election, with lawmakers on both political sides saying Russia meant to sow discord in the United States, spread propaganda and sway the election to elect President Donald Trump. As the article notes, the company has previously downplayed its involvement in Russia's potential election interference.

In response to the television segment, Facebook tried to distance itself from the Trump campaign, telling 60 Minutes in a statement that although Facebook teams offer insight into how the company's products work, "campaigns make their own strategic decisions about how to use the Facebook platform". Even so, the technology behemoth agreed to testify before the Senate in late September alongside representatives from Facebook and Twitter. Similar pages had been taken down by Facebook and Twitter, according to a report Monday by The Daily Beast.

Facebook revealed last month that the company had found $100,000 in spending by the agency and has since pledged to become more transparent about their ad transactions. This was perhaps easiest because Russia-linked accounts purchased as much as $270,000 on the social network in 2016.


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