NEW YORK – Russian operatives likely spent tens of thousands of dollars on ads across Google products, including YouTube and Google search, according to reports.
Accounts connected with the Russian government spent $4,700 on search and display ads, while another $53,000 was spent on ads with political material that were purchased from Russian territory, from Russian internet addresses, or with Russian currency, The New York Times reported. The Times cited an unnamed person familiar with the ongoing inquiry by the search giant.
The Washington Post earlier reported that the technology behemoth uncovered the Russian-backed disinformation campaign as it considers whether to testify before Congress next month, also citing anonymous sources familiar with the investigation. Social media companies Facebook and Twitter have already agreed to testify.
The reports said the company discovered the Russian presence by analyzing information shared by Twitter and Facebook, as well its own research and tips from outside researchers.
In a statement, Google said it has a “set of strict ads policies including limits on political ad targeting and prohibitions on targeting based on race and religion.”
“We are taking a deeper look to investigate attempts to abuse our systems, working with researchers and other companies, and will provide assistance to ongoing inquiries,” the statement continued.
Facebook recently shared about 3,000 Russian-backed ads with Congress.
U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin directed a disinformation campaign aimed at helping Donald Trump win the presidential election.