Google found evidence of RF interference in USA elections

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Google's headquarters in Mountain View, California.

Google has discovered that Russian operatives spent tens of thousands of dollars on ads on YouTube, Gmail, Google search and other products, The Washington Post reported today.

On Sunday's 60 Minutes, President Donald Trump's digital campaign manager, Brad Parscale, revealed that employees from Google, as well as Facebook and Twitter, embedded with the Trump campaign to teach campaign staff how to use the platforms to target voters. In September, a spokesperson for Google said the company always monitors for any violations of abuse of its policies and has seen nothing to indicate there was an ad campaign run across its platforms. There were also posts created to stoke cultural tensions in the country, such as anti-immigrant material, according to the Washington Post.

A Google investigation has found evidence for the first time that Russian operatives attempted to interfere in the 2016 presidential election by exploiting the company's platforms, the Washington Post reported on Monday.

Other ads appear to have been aimed at fostering division in the United States by promoting anti-immigrant sentiment and racial animosity.

As part of a broad internal inquiry - which also spans sites like YouTube - Google also identified about $53,000 in ads that are connected to Russian Federation, through markers like a local billing address, but may not be explicitly tied to the Kremlin, the source said.

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 announced last month it had unearthed $100,000 in spending by the Internet Research Agency and, under pressure from lawmakers, has pledged to be more transparent about how its ads are purchased and targeted. This was perhaps easiest because Russia-linked accounts purchased as much as $270,000 on the social network in 2016.

It is possible that numerous accounts are not tied to the IRA, and that the scope of Russian meddling extends beyond what Facebook and Twitter have identified so far.

Twitter declined to comment for this story.

It's early days for Google, and it remains to be seen whether it will testify before U.S. congress on 1 Nov, along with Facebook and Twitter executives. US intelligence agencies have concluded that Moscow's goal was to help elect Donald Trump.

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