Google uncovers 'Russia-backed' ads Gmail

The operation could point to a wider Kremlin disinformation campaign than was previously suspected as the ads do not appear to have come from the same troll farm that bought ads on Facebook.

Google's headquarters in Mountain View, California.

Sources tell The Washington Post that "tens of thousands of dollars were spent on ads by Russian agents who aimed to spread disinformation" across Google's products such as Gmail, Search, YouTube, and its DoubleClick ad network. Google had previously said it had seen no evidence of Russian-bought election ads on its platforms.

In Google declined to comment on this information.

Google has found evidence that a Russian government campaign used the company's platforms to spread propaganda, according to a new report from The Washington Post.

Google to date has avoided for the most part scrutiny that has hit its biggest rival Facebook. Some of these ads talk about the Green party candidate Jill Stein, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, while some promoted anti-immigrant sentiment and racial animosity to foster division in the United States, notes the report.

It is unclear if some of the same ad buyers on Facebook also purchased ads on Google. The social network recently turned over evidence to Congressional investigators about thousands of alleged Russian-bought ads that were created to throw the presidential election into chaos.

The posts were shared hundreds of millions of times, said Jonathan Albright, research director of the Tow Centre for Digital Journalism at Columbia University.

Schrage, Facebook vice president for policy and communications, said in the blog post that the ads included "political messages across the ideological spectrum".

Facebook said last month that the ads appeared to have come from accounts associated with a Russian entity called the Internet Research Agency. As a result, Twitter identified about 200 related, Russia-tied accounts on its platform, though none of them had been registered as advertisers.

Facebook has turned over 3,000 ads to a congressional committee looking into the 2016 election. The Washington Post reported Monday that Google products also saw Russian campaign ads make buys a year ago during the presidential campaign. Even so, the technology behemoth agreed to testify before the Senate in late September alongside representatives from Facebook and Twitter.

  • Rogelio Becker