Google has discovered evidence that Russian operatives purchased ads on its services to meddle with the 2016 US presidential election, according to a new report.
The Washington Post, citing unnamed sources "familiar with the company's investigation," on Monday reported that the Web giant discovered that Russian agents bought "tens of thousands of dollars" worth of ads to "spread disinformation" on its platforms like YouTube, Gmail, and search.
Google did not immediately respond to PCMag's request for comment and declined to offer a statement when contacted by the Washington Post.
The ads in question appear to be from a different Russian outfit than the "Kremlin-affiliated troll farm that bought ads on Facebook," the report notes, suggesting that "the Russian effort to spread disinformation online may be a much broader problem than Silicon Valley companies have unearthed so far."
News of Google's discovery comes after Facebook last month revealed that 470 "inauthentic" accounts and Pages that "likely operated out of Russia" spent approximately $100,000 between June 2015 and May 2017 on 3,000 ads on its platform.
Those ads focused on "amplifying divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum — touching on topics from LGBT matters to race issues to immigration to gun rights," Facebook's Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos said in a statement. Facebook provided Congress with details about those ads.
Twitter, meanwhile, also "proactively" shared with Congress a "round-up of ads" that Russia's state-run TV network Russia Today (RT) targeted at US users in 2016. Twitter stated that RT — which the US intelligence community in January said played a role in Russia's efforts to interfere in the 2016 US presidential election — spent $274,100 running ads in the US last year.
Twitter, Facebook, and Google parent company Alphabet have been invited to testify publicly before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Nov. 1.