Last week, the Senate Intelligence Committee confirmed Russia had interfered with the 2016 election through various means, including ad buys on social media sites like Facebook. Like the ill-informed among us, the political ads helped spread disinformation, the effects of which are still being studied by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who’s heading up the Russian investigation. Facebook turned over the 3,000 ads to Mueller right away, but held off on sharing them with Congress until late September.
Now it looks like a Russian troll farm also got the better of Google, as The Washington Post reports that the tech giant recently discovered evidence that “Russian operatives exploited the company’s platforms in an attempt to interfere in the 2016 election.” WaPo’s sources are people familiar with Google’s internal investigation on the political ad buys, which found that “tens of thousands of dollars were spent on ads by Russian agents who aimed to spread disinformation across Google’s many products,” including Gmail and YouTube. The investigation centers on a group of ads that was purchased for under $100,000, whose exact origins—troll or not-trolls—Google is trying to determine. .
Before launching its own investigation, Google tried to downplay the possible “meddling,” but it looks like the issue could be worse than even the Facebook revelation led us to believe. The new evidence suggests that this isn’t the same troll farm that snapped up all those ads on Facebook, which points to a “much broader problem than Silicon Valley companies have unearthed so far.”